University Hospital of Northern BC to get New Learning Center.
By Michelle Cyr-Whiting (From Opinion 250)
Future Learning Centre will go next to Jubilee Lodge, covering one row of parking
Prince George, BC - The BC Liberal Government has made good on a long-promised Learning and Development Centre at the University Hospital of Northern BC - approving $9.9-million dollars in funding for the facility, which will go up at the hospital.
The project has been on the books for almost a decade now, as a key pillar in the Northern Medical Program. The centre will include a library, seminar rooms, a simulation lab, video conferencing suites, and common areas. (Photo above shows Dr. Paul Winwood, NH COO Michael McMillan, MLA Shirley Bond, NH Board Chair Dr. Charles Jago, UNBC President George Iwama, and NH CEO Cathy Ulrich)
Northern Health's Board Chair, Dr. Charles Jago, admits the centre has been a long time coming, saying it's been in the plans for the NMP since about 2002. "And then when they built the medical program in Kelowna, they had a learning facility, so we were feeling a bit left out and now it's being done."
Jago says he's not sure why the project took so long to come to fruition, but says, "I'm glad, frankly, in hindsight, that it did take so long because I think we have a better sense of the kind of facility we need."
UNBC's Vice-Provost of Medicine, Dr. Paul Winwood, says the centre will be critical in retaining and recruiting physicians in the north. Dr. Winwood says having a medical program is just part of that solution, "If we have a modern, state-of-the-art education centre with up-to-date facilities for video conference learning; for small group learning; new IT-based learning, it will go a long way to making people want to come and work here."
"And it's not just about bringing our own students back, which of course, I'm very keen to do," says Winwood. "But it's also about recruiting new physicians from outside of Prince George because if they see something like that - and I can speak to that because that's one of the reasons I came to Prince George. I went to UNBC, I saw the medical program, I saw the 5th floor here (at UHNBC) the clinical teaching space and I was bowled over by it. I thought it was amazing - but we don't have that for medical education as a whole here."
The original education centre at the hospital had been housed in a portable on the spot where the new Cancer Centre now sits. Since construction began on that facility, Northern Health's Chief Operating Officer, Michael McMillan, says, "We actually are squeezing teaching space in all over the place - little nooks and crannies all over this building - but we don't really have any large space that we can bring 30 or 40 or 50 people together in decent space."
McMillan says, "This is transformative for the organization, in terms of really living up to the name of a teaching hospital."
The new centre will be built parallel to Jubilee Lodge, just outside the hospital's main entrance, and is expected to eat up one row in the existing parking lot. However, McMillan says, "We're actually going to re-create that (parking) in the back of the campus, where the Nechako Building is - that building is coming down."
In a seperate project, Northern Health has determined the old nurses' residence has outlived its usefulness and does not warrant a capital investment. It's slated to be demolished.
A tender for the Learning and Development Centre will be issued this summer, with the project set to be complete by the summer of 2014.