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Academic Health Center after hours

Medical campus always on call

by Dama Ewbank

If you have ever been truly sick, you know that it did not come on your time or your terms. You can’t pencil in the flu. That is why UC’s Medical Campus is always open. Even snowstorms that bring the city to a halt are no match for the essential functions of the university’s four health colleges and UC Health’s hospitals.

But it’s not just the clinical and education missions of the medical campus that require 24/7 attention. Research is a $443 million enterprise at UC, and many projects require constant care and monitoring — some, even a little ingenuity to work around the schedules of all-important research subjects.

Students, researchers, patients and clinicians keep things moving at all times of day and night, studying, discovering, caring or needing care. The UC Medical Campus is always on call.


  • Barely after sunrise, it’s evident that work has already begun inside the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies. The building with multi-storied windows fitted into curved walls was designed in the late 1990s by the world-renowned Frank Gehry. Inside, researchers delve into genetic and molecular mechanisms that contribute to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, as well as brain and nervous system disorders.

    photo/Dan Davenport

  • Medical professionals whose shifts start and end at all hours are the main people likely to catch a sight like this — a blanket of early-morning fog wrapping itself around the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, where many UC faculty physicians practice.

    photo/Dan Davenport

  • Since 1984, Air Care has been providing rapid critical-care transport to the community with a helipad on the roof of University Hospital. In 2004, a remote base was added at UC Health’s West Chester campus (pictured here). Nearly 60 percent of its total 1,000-plus runs last year occurred between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.

    photo/Dan Davenport

  • More than 600 residents and fellows at UC Health’s University Hospital work in rotations to cover all shifts, including these residents shown in the Internal Medicine Resident Lounge during third shift.

    photo/Dan Davenport

  • Air Care’s helmet-mounted goggles amplify light up to 50,000 times, allowing crews to see light invisible to the human eye. Flight nurse Dennis Schmidt describes their effect as turning the night environment into “green daylight.” The goggles are vital in helping pilots land in the dark and avoid wires and other hazards near highway accident scenes.

    photo/Dan Davenport

  • For additional hands-on nursing experience, senior Kasha Durniat nabbed one of the sought-after, year-long co-op positions at University Hospital. She often assesses babies in the newborn nursery, which also includes comforting them when needed, as she does here with Pace Christenson.

    photo/Dottie Stover

  • Having 24/7 research is a hallmark of a university like UC, ranked among the country’s top public research universities by the National Science Foundation. But it’s not just late nights and weekends that make research a “round-the-clock” function. On UC’s Reading Campus, obesity researchers often operate around the schedules of nocturnal research subjects. Daytime must be turned into nighttime — or dinnertime, that is — for the mice and rats who offer clues about metabolism. At 1 p.m., Kathi Smith, research associate and lead animal technician in the lab of Randy Seeley, works in the dark under a red light so that the rodents feel inclined to eat as they normally would.

  • The College of Nursing moved into Procter Hall in 1968, and although it looks picturesque at sunset, it is currently undergoing an exterior renovation — removing asbestos-containing materials, replacing the outer shell, developing a new main entry and creating a “green” second-floor roof with vegetation. Completion is scheduled for May 2012. Founded in 1889, the college was the first in the country to offer a baccalaureate program, grant academic credit for clinical work, offer a nursing co-op program and receive a nursing endowment, as well as one of the first to offer a master’s degree.

  • A night in the emergency department at University Hospital is never predictable. On a Tuesday in January 2010, the lobby is filled with more than 50 patients who must be moved through quickly. Sprains, strains, pulmonary patients and obstetrics emergencies are all triaged, and the 11 p.m. shift change (shown here) calls for a bedside briefing with doctors and residents — a “changing of the guard” for each patient’s care.

  • Opened in 2008, the Center for Academic and Research Excellence (CARE)/Crawley Building (at right) is one of the largest health-science research complexes in the country and one designed to encourage interactivity between faculty scientists and students through open spaces. Erik Sueberkrop, DAAP ’72, STUDIOS Architecture principal and lead designer on the project, won the Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award for the building design in 2009.

    In 2009, the CARE/Crawley Building was awarded LEED Gold certification, emblematic of excellence in sustainable building practices. UC has five other LEED-certified projects — Van Wormer Hall, Teachers College, the Steger Student Life Center, the Campus Recreation Center and Lindner Varsity Village. In addition, UC is Ohio’s only public university listed among Princeton Review’s “green universities,” a nod to the LEED buildings, UC’s 3,700-ton annual recycling program and its research on sustainability issues.

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