Georgian College: Centre for Health and Wellness to Provide State-of-the-Art Health Sciences and Clinical Facility

Member Spotlight

Students, staff, and the entire Barrie community have a lot to look forward to this fall at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, as construction progresses on the Centre for Health and Wellness. The college is focusing on providing first-rate health-care education to its students, along with access to health-care clinics for community members. Set to open in September, the Centre for Health and Wellness will feature community health clinics such as speech, language, and hearing services; oral health; massage therapy; vision; esthetics; and a Nurse Practitioner-led clinic. These clinics will provide a hands-on learning environment for students and much-needed health-care support for Simcoe County. An estimated 30,000 residents of Barrie are without a family doctor.

All teaching and learning in the classrooms, labs, and clinics will support interprofessional education, allowing students from a variety of health programs to work together on client care. "The new clinics will facilitate a collaborative team approach. Students from each program will all learn and work together for the benefit of patients," said Cassandra Thompson, Dean of the School of Health and Wellness.

Each of the health laboratories and classrooms will provide state-of-the-art equipment that resembles a real-life clinic environment. Students will have the opportunity to apply what they have learned at the community health- care clinics offered at Georgian or at another clinical placement. The education that the students will receive will be second to none.

The largest expansion in Georgian history, the Centre for Health and Wellness spans 172,000 square feet and will comprise one-third of the building space of the entire campus. Its $65 million price tag is funded by federal and provincial contributions from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, as well as municipal, corporate, and individual donors to the college's Power of Education campaign. The new building will eventually enable enrollment in Health and Wellness programs to double, allowing 3,000 students to be accepted for Health and Wellness programs. With the Royal Victoria Hospital literally next door, many Georgian graduates will stay and provide care in the area.   

"The college's new Centre for Health and Wellness will address a number of vital health-care priorities in our region," said Georgian College President and CEO Brian Tamblyn. "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. These highly qualified health-care professionals are urgently needed in our growing communities."

The Centre for Health and Wellness will also feature a new Aboriginal Resource Centre, as well as a tipi that will be situated on the northeast side of the building. The tipi will be used as a culturally supportive teaching space for students where Aboriginal culture is embraced and celebrated.

The experience that Health and Wellness students will receive in the new Centre will bring them to the forefront as far as job opportunities are concerned. There is a great need for health-care providers in Simcoe County, and Georgian is working closely with local clinics, long-term care homes, hospitals, and community care agencies to help meet the needs of health-care institutions and the surrounding communities.  

"Being a student while the Centre for Health and Wellness comes to life is truly amazing," said second-year Practical Nursing student Lisa Buchanan. "The experience that I'm going to gain here in the labs and health clinics is going to open so many doors for me."

Two new programs being introduced for the fall 2011 academic year are Esthetician and Pharmacy Technician. They will join existing programs from Opticianry and Paramedic to Personal Support Worker, Massage Therapy, Practical Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing collaborative program with York University, and many others.

The future is bright for students who will be part of the Health and Wellness programs this fall. "The new building makes me feel proud to be a Georgian College nursing student," said Lisa. "The investment into new health sciences facilities will keep us on the pulse of the future of health-care education for years to come."