University of South Florida administrators and students donned hardhats and shovels Tuesday to mark the start of construction on a new, long-planned student wellness center.
The three-story, 47,000-square-foot building will be four times the size of the existing Student Health Services building on the Tampa campus. It will be built using $27.4 million from a student-paid fee for capital improvements.
Dr. Joseph Puccio, executive and medical director of USF Student Health Services, said when he first came to the university in 2011, he had a five-year plan to expand medical services offered on the growing campus and better train students entering the medical field. But the former building, constructed in 1980, made that difficult to accomplish.
The new building, he said, will allow multiple health services to be housed under the same roof and better serve students. “This past year we showed how desperately we needed this,” Puccio said.
The new facility, located in what is now a parking lot off Genshaft Drive near the recreation center and the Yuengling Center, will offer general medical and urgent care services. Students also will have access to psychiatry, behavioral health, nutrition, dermatology and gynecological and sexual health services. In addition, the building will house a laboratory and pharmacy.
USF president Steve Currall said the pandemic brought added attention to the importance of health. The new center, he said, would better equip the university to support the physical, mental and emotional health of students.
Alexis Roberson, the Tampa governor for the university’s student government, said the new center places emphasis on total well-being. After “an emotionally and mentally taxing year,” she said, “we have learned we must prioritize our well-being when no one else will.”
The building will include design features based on lessons learned from the pandemic: an exterior overhang for potential outdoor clinical services, an air handling unit with upgraded filters and an urgent care suite that prevents any used or expelled air from recirculating. It was designed by Cannon Design and will be constructed by Barr&Barr/Horus.
Construction is expected to be complete by fall 2022.