In an effort to show they are sincerely dedicated to comprehensive care, many hospitals undergoing construction today are designed with space for community health programs. Not only do today’s hospitals want to care for patients in the hospital beds, but also improve the health of the surrounding communities at large. Barrie, Ontario’s Georgian College has a similar goal for its new Centre for Health and Wellness.
When the centre opens in fall 2011, it will have space for community healthcare clinics. The goal for the centre is to not only be an educational resource for students and the community, but also improve the area in other ways.
“The first phase of the college’s new Centre for Health and Wellness will address a number of vital healthcare priorities in our region,” Georgian President and CEO Brian Tamblyn said in a statement. “It will help us meet the continuing demand for enrollment growth in both diploma and degree Health Sciences programs at Georgian and our University Partnership Centre [UPC]. These highly qualified healthcare professionals are urgently needed in our growing communities.”
Construction on the 172,000-square-foot centre began in summer 2009 and the first phase is scheduled for completion in March 2011, so students will be able to begin classes in September 2011. The second and final phase will be completed in 2012. The new centre will allow the college’s UPC to grow; the UPC >> >> offers expanded degree opportunities in the Barrie area. The college expects its enrollment to grow by 1,800 students in diploma programs and graduate and degree studies through the UPC when the first phase of the new centre is completed, and another 1,200 student spaces will be added after the second phase.
Funding is provided by the provincial and federal governments, in addition to contributions from the city of Barrie, Simcoe County and donors to Georgian’s Power of Education fundraising campaign. The total price of the new construction is estimated to be $65 million, and economic impact of the construction alone will be approximately $98 million, the college says.
“Working at the federal and provincial levels with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges and Colleges of Ontario, we have collectively communicated the urgent need for significant investment in our centres for higher learning,” Tamblyn said. “At Georgian, the Centre for Health and Wellness will be a huge asset. It will provide immediate construction jobs during these difficult economic times, 400 new jobs for staff and faculty when it opens, and will provide more healthcare professionals in our communities for years to come.”
This is the largest expansion in Georgian College’s history, and will include high-tech laboratories, technology enhanced classrooms and “will facilitate a collaborative, interprofessional, team-based approach to health sciences education,” the college says. As a result, students from a variety of health programs will be able to work together on patient care.
“Students from nursing, dental hygiene, dental assisting, opticianry, paramedic, pre-health sciences and massage therapy programs will all learn and work together for the benefit of the patients,” said Dr. Cassandra Thompson, dean of the School of Health and Wellness and the School of Child Studies. Georgian College also says the new Centre for Health and Wellness will allow students to practice real-life scenarios and improve students’ success in jobs immediately after graduation.
“Along with the access to state-of-the-art equipment and high-tech classrooms, the expansion also means that we’ll have the opportunity to work as part of a team,” said Beverly Halliday, a paramedic student. “The new building will bring us together physically and allow us to practice basic scenarios in paramedicine in a realistic environment. This will help us become more employable when we graduate.”
Approximately $40 million in funding for the Centre for Health and Wellness came from Canada’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP). The federal and provincial governments are working together to help modernize facilities and boost long-term research and skills training capacity at colleges and universities. This is part of $780 million in capital funding the Ontario government allocated from its 2009 budget.
KIP is a two-year, $2 billion economic stimulus measure to support infrastructure enhancement at post-secondary institutions across Canada. The federal government is providing nearly $800 million to post-secondary schools in Ontario under this program.
Projects under KIP were awarded support based on their ability to quickly and effectively generate economic activity and support job creation, as well as their ability to enhance research capacity, attract new students and improve educational experiences.
“I thank both governments sincerely for this investment,” Tamblyn said. “The new Georgian Centre for Health and Wellness will allow us to educate thousands of additional highly qualified healthcare professionals who are urgently needed in our growing communities.”