News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 19, 2013

RHIC members remain optimistic about plan to transform the near-northside into a thriving health education zone

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A now five-year old project to transform the near-northside of Terre Haute into a thriving health education zone is still on track, organizers said Monday.

Members of the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, or RHIC, said they remain optimistic about the overall plan during a presentation Monday night in the Landsbaum Center on the Union Hospital Campus.

The RHIC is a vision to transform the neighborhood between Indiana State University and Union Hospital into a rural health care training and education center.

Broadly speaking, it aims to attract investors and partners to educate health care providers to work in rural areas, including the city of Terre Haute.

“We have an opportunity to create a city within a city,” said Mayor Duke Bennett, one of nine speakers at the presentation, which was part of the ISU “Community Semester” series. “It is a very important thing to our community,” he added. “What we’ve seen so far is just a drop in the bucket.”

RHIC is a collaboration among ISU, Union Hospital, the Indiana University School of Medicine, Ivy Tech, the City of Terre Haute and other partners. The organization has its headquarters in the former west building of Union Hospital and now has its own Simulation Center, which uses animated, high-technology mannequins to help train health care specialists. The Center also boasts an Anatomage table, which provides 3-D images of the human body for anatomy and virtual dissection labs.

“It’s a wonderful tool for any kind of anatomy class or health class,” said Jack Jaeger, simulation center director for the RHIC, who was demonstrating the equipment Monday.

The RHIC remains largely in the vision phase, but very recently the organization sent requests to developers for what they could imagine doing in the area.

A “request for information” was sent to 15 different developers recently, said Stephanie Laws, executive director of the RHIC. Eight answered the request with their own visions for the area, she said. It will now be up to the RHIC partners to decide what, if anything, to do with those ideas.

Health care training is a rapidly growing part of Indiana State University’s mission, said C. Jack Maynard, provost of ISU and a speaker at Monday night’s event. “There’s no place that has greater potential than what we have here,” he said.

At the March 7 Terre Haute City Council meeting, Cliff Lambert, executive director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment, called on the council to help move along plans for a unified zoning ordinance for the entire county. If such a plan included a new zoning “overlay” for the RHIC neighborhood, that could encourage private investors to put millions of dollars into the area, he told the council. Such an “overlay” would provide insurance to investors, Lambert told the council.

“They want some protection,” Lambert said of potential investors. They don’t want a “strip club” or something akin to that opening nearby.

For more information on the RHIC, visit the organization’s website at www.therhic.org.



Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com