Alistair Waters/Capital News                                Okanagan College student Maran Kokoszka (left) and OC dean Yvone Moritz join Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark (centre) OC president Jim Hamilton and Susan Brown of Interior Health Thursday at the ground-breaking of the new OC health sciences building.

Alistair Waters/Capital News Okanagan College student Maran Kokoszka (left) and OC dean Yvone Moritz join Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark (centre) OC president Jim Hamilton and Susan Brown of Interior Health Thursday at the ground-breaking of the new OC health sciences building.

New health sciences building for Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus

The new $18.9 million, 2,800-square-metre building is expected to be complete by the fall of 2020

Ground has been broken on the latest construction project at Kelowna’s Okanagan College campus—a new $18.9 million health sciences centre.

B.C. Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark was on hand Thursday to deliver $15.4 million of the total cost of the new 2,800-square-metre building, which will house all the colleges health-related programs.

“Students will get the skills and training in a modern building for a range of health-care and social-development careers,” said Mark.

“Nurses, pharmacy technicians and early childhood educators are in-demand jobs that people rely on every day in communities around the province to keep families safe and healthy.”

OC president Jim Hamilton said construction of the new building is a milestone in the college’s long tradition of educating students in the health field.

He estimated that OC has produced more than 10,000 graduates through its health programs over the years.

“The health centre has been a high priority for us, and will be welcome news for thousands of students who will go on to become an important part of our province’s workforce.”

The new building will be built to LEED gold standard, carrying on the environmental tradition OC has developed in construction of its facilities in recent years.

As an integrated learning centre, it will offer diploma and certificate programs in professional training in areas such as practical nursing, dental assistants, special needs workers and health-care assistants.

The building is expected to be complete by the fall of 2020.

According to the Labour Market Outlook, 917,000 job openings are expected in B.C. by 2027, including more than 75,000 in health-related and applied science fields.

“Having access to the skilled graduates coming out of Okanagan College is incredibly important for Interior Health,” said Susan Brown, vice-president and chief operating officer of hospitals and communities for IH. “We hire as many OC graduates as we can, as we’ve found them to be well-prepared for helping us to provide the highest quality of care to our patients, residents and clients.”

Pharmacy technician student Maran Kokaszka welcomed news of the new building, even if she will have graduated before it is complete.

“This new building is going to provide an amazing state-of-the-art space for students to learn in, which is going to enhance the great instruction we receive at the college,” she told a group of about 50 people on hand for the ground breaking ceremony.

“Technology is always changing in this field, so having a bright new space and the latest equipment is really going to enrich the learning experience, and fill students with confidence as they train to become health-care and social-development professionals,” she added.

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