Health education, research center opens

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Dr. Allan Bach is the medical director of the Julie Penrose Health Education and Research Center, the only center of its kind in Southern Colorado

Dr. Allan Bach is the medical director of the Julie Penrose Health Education and Research Center, the only center of its kind in Southern Colorado

The only nonprofit center in Southern Colorado to focus on education and research in the health sciences opened this week in Colorado Springs.The Julie Penrose Health Education and Research Center, located at 6071 East Woodmen Road at the St. Francis Medical Center campus, is a community-based, state-of-the-art medical center that will focus on health sciences education and research.

Both local hospitals, Memorial Health System and Penrose-St. Francis Health Centers, are participating in the new venture, which is located on the second floor of the Northcare building.

“This is for everyone,” said Dr. Allan Bach, medical director for the center. “Anyone who needs a place for research, for education.”

The $1.8 million center features a conference room, a lecture hall that is capable of sending lectures via the Internet, and a wet lab for study of tissue and organs.

“The wet lab is a flexible teaching and research area that can support the examination, dissection and manipulation of hard and soft tissue anatomy samples and anatomical models,” Bach said.

Currently equipped with seven research stations, doctors can use robotic models to teach students in the nearby classrooms, and the surgery is broadcast over two flat screen televisions in the lab.

“WE can use the robotics – those cost $40,000 each,” Bach said. “Or companies who need to can bring in cadavers for research as well.”

The facility is on par with other university medical centers, he said.

“This has the potential to build joint education and research programs with regional hospitals, universities and health agencies,” he said. “The technology is state-of-the-art, and will allow distant learning all over the country.”

Bach said the closest similar facility is at the University hospital system in Denver. Bach will work part-time at the center, and already has programs and meetings set up for local health education groups.

“We’re focusing on the education right now,” he said. “Because that’s the low hanging fruit. Once we get research grants, and other opportunities, this place will be full of people, working.”

The construction of the center was paid for with a grant from the El Pomar Foundation.