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Unique JU-Dolphin Pointe Landing collaboration signals first step in multi-faceted healthcare sciences education for First Coast

Students helping and learning from older individuals in a healthcare setting, and vice versa, as they both  move through crucial phases of their lives. It’s a vision coming to reality through Dolphin Pointe Landing, a skilled nursing facility opening next to JU’s North campus as part of a unique alliance to create a powerful academic and intergenerational healthcare experience.

With a goal to uplift Arlington with much-needed healthcare services, bring real-world learning experiences for Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences students, and lead economic benefits for the entire region, the development was kicked off Thursday, Dec. 15, with a groundbreaking and celebration. (See gallery of renderings and photos below.)

“We are an academic institution and also a $220 million economic engine in our community, providing jobs, 30,000 hours of annual volunteer service and, at our core, teaching,” said JU President Tim Cost. “As we have said before, we’re either going to do things very well, with high quality, or we won’t do them.”

JU’s agreement with Nelson Holdings, developer of the $18 million, 120-bed skilled nursing center just north of campus overlooking the St. Johns River, will link undergraduate and graduate students and older individuals in a mutually beneficial co-learning experience to a degree unlike any in higher education.

It accentuates JU’s commitment to healthcare sciences in the community — an effort Cost mentioned will soon bring greater innovation to the area in academic programming and partnering, community outreach, and new university venues.

For example, around the corner in 2017 for JU are an occupational therapy doctorate program in the former president’s house just north of the nursing facility; a satellite campus in downtown’s SunTrust tower for undergraduate and graduate students; and partnering with Rimrock Devlin Development on the new JU HealthCare Science Institute. The latter will be adjacent to campus on University Boulevard near Dolphin Pointe, and will provide learning experiences for JU students as well as clinical access for the community.

“This is the exciting direction in today’s healthcare education, providing an innovative path that leverages our ability to respond to the needs of the market and our partners, while providing outstanding educational outcomes for our students,” Cost said at the event attended by local dignitaries and members of the JU community at the University’s River House.

Dolphin Pointe’s location near campus means JU’s full range of healthcare students will practice in Florida’s first teaching skilled nursing facility, much as in a teaching hospital, where they can complete their clinical rotations and directly apply what they’ve learned in class to real-life situations. They will also conduct on-site research valuable for building community health initiatives that benefit industry and support the overall Dolphin Pointe wellness ecosystem for its residents.

From left, Nelson Holding’s Greg Nelson, Dr. Christine Sapienza, Mayor Lenny Curry and President Tim Cost.

The benefits of on-site learning offer the potential to encompass all academic disciplines at JU, from fine arts to computing science to the humanities and more, as students create real-world projects and conduct research with the particular needs and challenges of age 60+ individuals in mind.

“This is exciting from an economic development perspective. We are always excited when we can talk about job creation in Jacksonville. The new Arlington CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) is about revitalizing the commercial corridors in and around Arlington, and this is a catalyst for what is yet to come,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

“I’ve been on this campus a number of times since I was sworn in, and it’s because things are happening here, things are getting done, and a difference is being made.”

As part of their learning for undergraduate-level, masters and doctoral degrees, JU students will connect across generations at an unprecedented level in Florida. Building an intergenerational environment has been shown in numerous studies to provide clear benefits to all, and JU will be one of only a few universities in the Southeast with such a deliberate approach to creating this type of integrated community.

In addition to nursing majors, other JU students to be trained in the health care setting include speech language pathology, health informatics, kinesiology, mental health counseling, orthodontics, and pre-professional studies, gaining the latest evidence-based experience in rehabilitation techniques for acute and chronic care patients.

“Dolphin Pointe provides a foundation to build more access to care for Arlington residents as well, along with the experiential learning for our students,” said Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences Dean Dr. Christine Sapienza.

Envisioned for the future to complement Dolphin Pointe are a student and community wellness center that combines the academic and service components of nursing, speech language pathology, mental health counseling and occupation therapy, Sapienza added. In addition, new healthcare academic programs will be built as part of an emerging JU Healthcare Science Institute.

As demand for healthcare services professionals such as nurses and nurse practitioners has skyrocketed, higher education has been challenged to provide the deepest, most robust training possible, so that students are job-ready immediately upon graduation,” Sapienza said. “This is a key component of our answer to that challenge.”

“The training and education provided at Dolphin Pointe for our students is critical to producing these exceptional graduates, and we will strive toward even more relevant clinical experience as we expand the opportunities with the Dolphin Pointe community.”

The two-story, 100,000-square-foot Dolphin Pointe Landing is a premier, exclusively private suite health care and rehabilitation center overlooking the historic St. Johns River. It is the result of years of planning and coordination by Nelson Holding’s Greg Nelson, a 1972 JU alumnus with four decades’ relevant experience. The entire three-phase project as envisioned to eventually include assisted and independent living is expected to provide as many as 500 new long-term jobs in the Arlington community.

“We could have built this anywhere in Jacksonville, next to a hospital, out in the suburbs …  but we chose Arlington for a reason: it’s what Tim Cost and Dr. Christine Sapienza are doing here, and how well they are doing it,” Nelson said. “The nursing home is the catalyst for much more, and this couldn’t happen without JU and the credibility they bring to the table.”

Aligned with leading skilled nursing provider Clear Choice Health Care and Jacksonville University, the resort-style Dolphin Pointe is the first of the three phases that will eventually provide a continuum of care.

The leaders of Dolphin Pointe Health Care are helping reimagine care for seniors by shifting away from an institutional environment to an approach that centers on individual needs and active aging in place. Less moving from community and home combined with more choice allows the opportunity to age gracefully in a family of caring medical professionals.

The nursing center will also include cutting-edge therapy amenities offering physical, occupational and speech therapy with state-of-the-art equipment. It will feature many indoor sitting areas, outdoor gardens and courtyards to create varying levels of engagement and interaction and foster improved health and well-being.

Dolphin Pointe Landing