It’s about to get a whole lot more exciting for health care professionals at Okanagan College.
The college unveiled a new $5 million fundraising campaign on Wednesday to help support the completion of a 30,000 square-foot health sciences centre being built on its campus. The majority of the $18.9 million project is being funded by the B.C. government.
When completed next spring, the four-story building will feature early childhood education, fidelity, home care, simulation and dental labs for perspective students in the health care fields. The college’s older health care building built in 1963 will be demolished after the new health care building is up and running in the fall of 2020.
Okanagan College associate dean Lisa Kraft said the new centre will have new medical equipment installed that’s not available in the existing building.
“One of things we will have in the new building that we couldn’t put in the older facility is an opportunity for an overhead lift to lift the patient and help take them into a washroom setting and onto a toilet,” she said.
“That’s a very common practice in health care now”.
In terms of construction material, the college is using Penticton-sourced lumber to help build the steel and wood-frame building. Calgary-based GEC Architecture is the main company helping to design the project.
Coral Russell, a first year student in the college’s therapy assistant diploma, said she’s ecstatic to be one of the first students to study in the building when it opens to the public.
“It’s really exciting and it’s a huge privilege being able to study in it. In comparison to my lab space now, it’s going to make a huge difference,” she said.
Russell also said having more space in the new facility will be make it easier for her to complete her studies.
“Right now in the old building, we don’t have a dedicated lab space for the therapist assistant program since it currently doubles as a lab and our lecture room. Right now, we often have to push tables out of the way to practice more and sometimes we have to do physio-exercises out in the hallway on little gym mats,” she said.
“The new facility will be way different since we’ll have that dedicated area (to learn). Having to set up and take down equipment in the current facility is just taking that learning time away.”
Of the $5 million fundraising goal, $3.5 million from fundraising efforts will go to complete construction of the facility while the remaining $1.5 million will go towards programming and students support.
To help donate to the project, you can visit the Okanagan College website.