Health Sciences North got a huge boost in their journey towards building a brand new Learners' Centre, thanks to a one-time capital grant of up to $21,626,100 from the provincial government.
Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault made the announcement Friday at Health Sciences North. When completed, the 28,000 sq. ft. facility will include classrooms, lecture space, work stations, and on-call rooms.
The new facility will be built at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre and will accommodate 2,000 medical students, nursing students and allied health learners each year. The centre will also allow existing HSN staff and physicians to advance their skills.
"The creation of this centre will bring numerous benefits to our community," said Thibeault. "The next generation of medical professionals will be educated using cutting-edge training and techniques, (and) will create a future with better health care by ensuring that students of today have the best classroom possible."
Front and centre at the Learners' Centre will be the Simulation Lab which is currently temporarily housed at the Sudbury Outpatient Centre. The lab is designed to replicate medical settings such as an emergency or operating room. It provides training for procedures such as intubation, suturing and medical scoping.
While it was Thibeault who had the honour of announcing the funding, he was quick to praise his predecessor, Rick Bartolucci, for getting the ball rolling on the project.
"We've been working on this project for a long time, back in 2011, I also want to acknowledge under the former McGuinty government, Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci began the hard work that made this day possible," said Thibeault.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided approval for the construction contract of the project with a total cost of $26,289,800. Friday's funding announcement, in addition to a $5-million commitment from Health Sciences North Foundation (HSNF) will cover the projected price tag.
A number of major investments have been made into healthcare in Greater Sudbury recently, including:
- $500,000 planning grant to help with the expansion of HSN's NEO Kids and Family Program;
- $750,000 investment in the creation of an Integrated Chronic Pain Management Program at HSN;
- $221,713 in support of the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences;
- $4,990,000 for the construction of the HSNRI Walford Facility.
In addition to providing some of the most modern training tools for healthcare workers in Sudbury, the Learners' Centre is expected to be a key recruiting tool in not only bringing physicians to Northern Ontario, but retaining them as well, according to HSN board chair Nicole Everest.
"This is a monumental announcement and we're very pleased to see this project materialize," said Everest. "Over the last decade and more, HSN has experienced one of the best physician recruitment successes in its history. It's no coincidence this happened at a time where we accelerated our development as an academic sciences centre."
Dr. Nicole Ranger is one of many physicians who have passed through the doors of the simulation lab. The second-year family medicine resident was on-hand for the funding announcement, and shared her experiences on her journey to becoming a physician.
"I'm a proud alumnus of Northern Ontario School of Medicine, as an undergraduate learner I spent many a day and night at HSN," said Ranger.
"One of the most highly valued aspects of my training thus far is the opportunity to undertake simulation learning. Simulation learning strengthens our ability to handle high-stress situations in a safe learning environment."
With the construction of the new Learners' Centre, HSN will be able to relocate their simulation lab, as well as add 10 new classrooms for learners of all disciplines.
The tendering process has been completed for the project, HSN said, with shovels expected to be in the ground in March. Construction is expected to take about two years, with a completion date sometime in mid-2019.