Regents approve improvements for Academic Health Center

by Latasha Webb

The Board of Regents approved a 20-year plan Thursday to improve the Academic Health Center.

The plan will update space for research, education, and clinics; improve access to the AHC; replace older facilities; create a more eye-pleasing environment and clarify circulation routes.

Congestion on Washington Avenue, outdated buildings and the lack of parking are issues AHC officials brought to the board’s attention.

“We have facilities that are functionally inappropriate. Access to the Academic Health Center is limited,” said Harvey Turner, director of planning and programming.

Speeds on Washington Avenue are averaging 8 miles per hour, he said.

AHC officials said they want a more patient-friendly center with smaller clinics and convenient access.

Frank Cerra, AHC vice president, said there is a real need for research space and access is a problem.

“What looks good today, next year we’ll be revisiting this,” Regent Anthony Baraga said. “This is too dynamic at this time.”

Cerra said the plan will evolve throughout the 20-year period.

“(The plan is) what could happen. What are the choices?” Cerra asked.

“This becomes the framework within which to think about it. They are the right goals, the right objectives,” he said.

Construction dates aren’t set, but under the plan the current hospital would stay, the board would review fiscal options for clinics, service options would expand and parking options would improve.

The regents discussed the usefulness of large “intimidating” hospitals in comparison to more efficient smaller clinics.

“How do we create new facilities and at the same time transform? We looked at renovation. We brought forward a plan,” Turner said.

“We studied the whole Mayo complex,” Cerra said. He said this plan will make the clinic more accessible and help deal with traffic flow.


Latasha Webb welcomes comments at [email protected]