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Okanagan College showcases new health sciences centre

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Okanagan College opened the doors for the media to tour its new health sciences centre on Tuesday morning.

The centre opened earlier this year.

It cost $19.4 million with most of the funding — $15.4 million — coming from the province.

Okanagan College had to raise $5 million for the state-of-the-art building in Kelowna. To date $4.2 million has been raised with the college looking to raise $750,000 more by March 31.

Read more: Okanagan College opens doors to new health sciences centre on its Kelowna campus

Campaign Ambassador Maxine DeHart said the health sciences centre will not only teach the next generation of health and social development professionals, “but it’s for the current and future people of our city.”

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Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman said the province typically provides three-quarters of the funds needed to complete educational projects.

“And we have to go to the community to support the level of excellence that we want for our community,” Jackman told Global News.

The exterior of Okanagan College’s new health sciences building. Global News

“We’re hoping to do that by the end of March, and that will allow us just to make sure we’ve got the very best equipment and that we’ve reached that capital goal.”

Jackman added that health care has really been highlighted during the pandemic, and “we know everyone working on the frontline plays a critical role, not least our health care professionals. So the students that will graduate from this building are going to go on to work in long-term care, in hospital settings, in pharmacies, in dental clinics.

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“These are the future generations that are going to care for us.”

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Yvonne Moritz, interim dean for science, technology and health at Okanagan College, said the building will host a wide range of programs, including:

  • Healthcare assistants
  • Practical nursing
  • Dental assisting
  • Early childhood education
  • Therapist assistant
  • The first two years in the bachelor of science nursing program.

“In this building, we’ve had the opportunity to really use the technology that is used in our healthcare systems,” said Moritz.

“So that is really an update for us. And it really gives those students that kind of that hands-on opportunity to practice their skills in the labs.”

Moritz said B.C. has a shortage of various health professionals “and the pandemic has kind of put a highlight on that shortage and that need for those critical care kind of frontline workers. And so our students here have really been kind of part of the solution.”

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For more about donating to the Centre, visit the Okanagan College Foundation website.

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