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May 17, 2011
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Cancer patients in the Maryville area will soon undergo their treatments at an updated facility thanks to the planning and work of students in Northwest Missouri State University's merchandising of furnishings and accessories course.
During the spring trimester, students in the course taught by Northwest Assistant Professor of Merchandising Dr. Jean A. Memken began remodeling the Cancer Treatment Center housed in a former office building on the St. Francis Hospital campus.
The students are taking the project from initial assessment all the way through implementation. Last month, they took their plans to the St. Francis Hospital Foundation which gave a conditional approval to the students' proposal.
"Through this project, the students have been able to not only learn about various ways to make an environment more peaceful and conducive to healing, but they have had a chance to do a little fund-raising in the community," Memken said. "They secured donations of design materials and professional services from many of the home improvement vendors in Maryville."
Teri Harr, nurse liaison for the breast cancer program at St. Francis, called the project exciting and said it gives her goose bumps to see the students' passion for the project.
"I think it says a lot for our community that the university and the community and the hospital can come together to work on a project to help our cancer patients," Harr said. "I think that is a phenomenal thing. I never imagined we'd have design boards and they'd come out here and actually do the physical work, which I think is a great learning experience for them, too."
Currently the facility is designed to meet the needs of up to 25 patients who visit multiple times per week for treatments that may last up to six hours. During their planning, students interviewed staff, patients and cancer survivors about how they thought the facility could be improved. The students eventually drew up plans calling for an environment that is more vibrant, comfortable and timeless.
"We had to keep in mind that the materials had to be easy to clean and durable," said Alison Jones, a senior merchandising major from Omaha, Neb. "It's a really good learning experience, and even the smallest changes will make a difference."
The trimester-long project challenged the students to develop their design and merchandising skills in addition to fundraising. The students sought individuals and businesses to donate goods or help improve the existing furniture.
Additionally, Northwest Manager of Design and Construction Mark Galbraith provided expertise on design and engineering issues. Students and faculty in Northwest's Department of Art have expressed interest in contributing artwork when the renovation is complete.
The renovation work could begin sometime this summer. The project is estimated to cost between $30,000 and $35,000. Expenses include redoing the floors, ceilings, walls as well as purchasing new chairs and making improvements to the bathroom so it is handicapped-accessible.
"It's good to know a lot of people will benefit from it," said Emily Homan, a junior merchandising major from Lee's Summit. "It's not just redoing one person's house. It's redoing something that will help the whole community."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468