CF debuts Allied Health Sciences Building

The former gymnasium has been transformed into a state-of-the-art training facility.

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Posted March 3, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore
Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

College of Central Florida staff and faculty joined local and state dignitaries Friday for a ribbon-cutting at the revamped campus gymnasium, now redefined and outfitted as the Allied Health Sciences Building.

The 24,000-square-foot former gymnasium was revamped in a $7.8 million project in less than 12 months and will serve as a state-of-the-art training facility for up to 200 students annually who are seeking an Associate in Science degree in the fields of Cardiovascular Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography Technology, Respiratory Care and Surgical Technology.

Student Rebecca Roe, a former certified nursing assistant, will complete her Surgical Technology studies in July. She worked with fellow student Julia Corl on a mock leg surgery to treat a blood clot on Friday in one of the building’s labs. Roe said students learn the uses of at least 270 surgical tools and explained that she will get exposure to an actual operating room at one of several area hospitals.

Another student, Carlos Duran, said the facility will provide him “hands on” experience.

Uvonda Wilkerson, CF Program Manager of Surgical Services, worked as a surgical technologist at the former Munroe Regional Hospital (now AdventHealth Ocala) for 21 years. She said program graduates will work “hand in hand” with surgeons in operating rooms.

“(The technicians) need to know as much as the surgeons about the procedure,” she said.

Wilkerson said studies at the facility cover all types of surgeries from “head to toe.”

The building contains a surgical services lab, respiratory lab, sonogram lab, cardiovascular labs, classrooms and four mock operating beds with special mock patient mannequins. The rooms are stocked with training tools such as an electronic surgery simulator with monitor screen and an array of surgical tools.

The project was made possible by state and local funds, including a $1.4 million commitment from the Marion County Hospital District, CF President Jim Henningsen said.

Henningsen said “75% of our graduates stay in our community.”

He said the facility was “well-received by the Florida Legislature and Governor’s office” and that CF was asked to present our “innovative and cost-effective solution to the Florida House Education and Workforce Subcommittee as a best practice for Florida.”

Henningsen called the facility a “game changer” for the college.

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn called the facility “wonderful.”

Speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony included Rusty Branson, on the CF District Board of Trustees, and Kevin Sheilley, President and CEO of the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership.

Dr. Stephanie Cortes, Dean for Health Services, recognized members of the CF staff “who made the project possible,” including Associate Dean for Health Sciences Rod McGinnes, Director of Facilities Katie Hunt and Manager of Facilities Justin Mayer.

HuntonBrady Architects, Ausley Construction, Mitchell Gulledge Engineering, Kimley-Horne Engineering and Siemens Engineering were involved in the project.

Dr. Jennifer Fryns, Associate Vice President of Career and Professional Programs, provided details about the expected need and pay rate for trained technicians:
* Cardiovascular Technology – $49,000 average yearly salary; 14% job increase by 2028
* Diagnostic Medical Sonography Technology – $58,000 average yearly salary; 23% job increase by 2028
* Respiratory Care – $60,000 average yearly salary; 20% job increase by 2028
* Surgical Services -$45,000 average yearly salary; 15% job increase by 2028

To learn more about all of the program available at the College of Central Florida, go to

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