Donors and local dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of Lambton College's new NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre. May 15, 2019. (Photo by Melanie Irwin, Blackburn News)

New college health & research centre ‘just like a hospital’ (GALLERY)

Donors, industry partners, health sciences students and Lambton College community supporters gathered to officially open the new NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre Wednesday afternoon.

The 60,000 square foot facility has a 40-bed nursing lab, two intensive care unit rooms, two simulated advanced care suites, a paramedic lab, amphitheatre and three classrooms.

College President Judy Morris said it’s a significant investment in the future of education and healthcare in Sarnia-Lambton.

“Our students will receive an exceptional education which will empower them to provide healthcare for our families, friends and loved ones in our community…and that is certainly worth celebrating,” said Morris.

The labs and training spaces are outfitted with advanced simulation technology.

Clinical and Simulation Lab Technician Lee Ann Fraser said it’s a game changer for learning.

“We have medium fidelity mannequins and we also have high fidelity mannequins, and these mannequins can simulate heart attacks, they can simulate respiratory distress, so that really gives the student a real life experience,” said Fraser.

Bluewater Health President and CEO Mike Lapaine said the new facility will help address the need for healthcare to grow in the community.

“The ability to recruit qualified staff is always an issue, for any facility,” said Lapaine. “Having a facility like this here means we can do a lot more hands-on training, we do a lot of placements at Bluewater Health from here and actually when we look at this facility, it will be great for training for our own staff.”

Lapaine said the facility could even provide overflow support in the event of an emergency.

“We were so excited to see a 40 bed unit. We know that if there was a catastrophe in the area where our backup beds would be. It’s a really great facility, it’s just like being in a hospital! The quality of the simulation space is exactly what you would see in a hospital.”

The $30 million dollar project was funded through the college’s Envision Tomorrow Capital Campaign.

The federal and provincial governments provided a total of $20 million in joint funding, Lambton County committed $5 million and NOVA Chemicals donated $2 million.

Additional contributions from industry and partners made up the remaining $3 million.