CHAPEL HILL (August 18, 2021) – The first time Lauren Kiefer arrived at Carrington Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing, she got lost.
It’s two buildings – an older one and a younger one – mashed against one another, and the hallways can indeed be confusing.
“I was a little bit surprised by the state of the building, ‘cause I had an impression that everything would kind of be modern – new technology and all of that,” Kiefer, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in nursing in an accelerated program, says in the accompanying video.
Yet ceiling tiles are stained by water leaks. Wires hang from the ceilings in some places. And some office doors are blocked by yellow hazard tape that says “Caution” due to mold or asbestos inside.
University officials have sought funds to renovate Carrington Hall, the home of the School of Nursing, for several years. In Raleigh, state legislators approved $2.5 million last year to plan the $45 million project.
The NC House’s proposed version of the state budget for 2021-23 would provide $13.75 million in the first year of the budget for renovation and expansion of Carrington Hall and $18 million the second year.1 The Senate’s budget proposal doesn’t include anything for the project.2 So the difference will be resolved in a joint House-Senate conference committee in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the School of Nursing says it simply wants to provide the most modern, up-to-date instruction for nurses – nurses who are in short supply. The state faces projections of a shortage of as many as 10,000 registered nurses by 2033.3
“Clearly we need to modernize our building so that students do have access to the latest technologies – to the technologies they’re going to be using when they go work in a hospital, or in a public health setting,” says Dr. Cheryl Jones, a professor at the school.
“We need to be able to emulate those environments here in our School of Nursing.”
Dr. Cheryl Giscombe, another professor at the school, says classrooms don’t provide space for team-based care – an increasingly important element in health care today.
Another emerging aspect of nursing is tele-health, where patients have learned during the pandemic that they can visit their doctors online.
“I think this whole world of tele-health is a new frontier,” says Jones. “I think we need to be better training nurses how to use tele-health, because I think it’s going to be one of the features of the pandemic that does remain.”
Giscombe recounts how water leaks from rain and snow have led to mold in the current building, which can cause problems for students with asthma or allergies. And Jones describes how she was repeatedly moved out of her office in Carrington Hall for asbestos remediation.
“That’s not congruent with our mission in terms of promoting health around the globe,” says Giscombe. “We want to have an inviting space. People have high expectations when they come to UNC School of Nursing, because of our reputation.”
1 https://webservices.ncleg.gov/ViewNewsFile/54/SB_105_House_Committee_Substitute_CommitteeReport_X_2021_08_10, p. H12/625, Item 64.