The Munroe-Meyer Institute works out of a 60-year-old building, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center plans to give it a new home.
The UNMC program for people with disabilities and complex health needs won the go-ahead from the NU Board of Regents last week to move to the former First Data building at 6902 Pine St.
Dr. Karoly Mirnics, director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute, said the transition is less about the building and more about having the space and chance to establish new programs, expand existing ones and fulfill the institute’s mission.
“It’s about who we are and what we want to achieve” at the institute, Mirnics said late last week.
Munroe-Meyer, or MMI, cites lofty goals of becoming “world leaders in transforming the lives of all individuals with disabilities” and their families, according to regents material.
UNMC will renovate the First Data building in Aksarben at a cost of $85.1 million, including about $68 million in private money and $10 million in state money. Clinical revenue and cash from a UNMC parking fund are expected to cover the rest.
Mirnics said he hopes his institute can move into the new space in two years. He said the MMI wants to be bold in designing the building’s interior so it aligns with the latest thinking about developmental disabilities.
That thinking includes the belief that experts should seek not to treat a disabling “handicap.” Now, Mirnics said, the aim should be to promote achievement, strengths and the importance of family, fitness, fun, friendships and functionality. He said the institute will maximize new techniques in communication, mobility and transportation.
Patients and their families will have a role in designing the facility, he said.
Further, the institute now focuses on outpatient programs rather than inpatient care and has shifted from solely pediatric patients to providing care throughout a person’s life, UNMC documents say.
He said the MMI’s placement in the Aksarben area will help it maximize collaboration with University of Nebraska at Omaha programs such as biomechanics and the Kiewit Institute.
At the building on Pine, renovation will enable the facility to accommodate program needs, education, research collaboration and office space. Parking will be plentiful at the new spot. Design is expected to start in August, with construction to begin in late spring or early summer of 2019.
The NU Foundation purchased the First Data building for $30 million two years ago.
UNMC calls the current MMI facility at 44th Street and Dewey Avenue “physically and functionally outdated to adequately support” the institute’s mission. The current facility has deferred maintenance, safety and code compliance concerns, the med center says.
Documents submitted to the regents said the renovation project will include a new entrance lobby, indoor and outdoor therapy and play areas, an indoor pool, a dedicated drop-off area and other features. The exterior is in good condition, a UNMC report says.