March 8, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 10



Community leaders visit RAHC construction site in Harlingen

PHOTO Dr. Leonel Vela (second from right), dean of the RAHC, shows Harlingen Chamber of Commerce members (left to right) Danny Buttery, Warren Kininimonth, Ann Shepard, Linda Wade and Cheryl LaBerge around the RAHC construction site.

Covered in bright yellow insulation panels, the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) is drawing more attention in Harlingen as its April 2002 completion date nears.

"I have never come across the level of local interest like I have seen on this project," said Douglas Jowell, University of Texas resident construction manager for the RAHC.

Dr. Leonel Vela, regional dean of the RAHC, has led the Harlingen mayor, city commissioners and Chamber of Commerce board members on inspection tours of the RAHC. Among the highlights of the tour are the medical library, which anchors the south wing of the ground floor, and the four-story central atrium, which will be enhanced with a medically- themed mural.

"My first impression was, 'Wow!' It's an awesome building," said chamber board member Michael Harris. "I was very impressed with the attention paid to details, particularly the communications connectivity." Dr. Vela said the RAHC will be one of the most connected buildings in regard to telecommunications options in the Health Science Center system.

Along with classrooms, faculty offices and support services, the RAHC has several uncommon features. On the second floor, clinical simulations areas will use computer-programmed symptoms to allow medical students to practice their diagnostic skills. The RAHC's 280-seat, state-of-the-art auditorium can be used for video conferencing, lectures and community health education forums.

"Although the facility still lacks interior walls, the Harlingen building is on its way to being the flagship of the RAHC," Dr Vela said. "But more than the building itself, what is going to put us on the map in a significant way, is how our students perform once they leave here."