North Island College is broadening its horizons to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox.
For the 2019/20 academic year, NIC will be using the former surgical day care space on the first floor to deliver the Health Care Assistant (HCA), and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programs.
“We’re happy and proud to be here,” college president John Bowman said Friday at a ceremony at St. Joe’s. “The ministry (Advanced Education, Skills & Training) has provided NIC with $600,000 to renovate and furnish and equip this space, and they’re also funding the annual lease costs.”
The new learning space includes two classrooms, study areas, meeting rooms and skill labs, making it easy for students to remain in one community for theory and lab components of the HCA program.
“St. Joseph’s has always been a comforting fixture in our town,” Comox Mayor Russ Arnott said. “The hospital component may be gone, but with an excellent opportunity such as this, you’re breathing new life into our community. I would like to welcome you to the neighbourhood, and wish you much success.”
The Views at St. Joe’s, and the Providence Residential and Community Care Services Society are other crucial partners, Bowman said.
“There is such a dire shortage of health care aide assistants in this province, and I think across this country,” said Michael Aikins, senior operations lead at The Views. “The Province stepped up to address this need because a lot of advocates were trying to declare a crisis. How are we going to look after the frail elderly in our communities? We don’t have enough employees to meet the emerging need.”
HCA students began their program in August. A second program begins in January – one of eight additional HCA certificate programs NIC is offering in 2019-2020.
ECCE students will also start at the new space in winter 2020.
Feasibility studies are being conducted to determine if other programs can be delivered on site in future years.
Applications are open for the January starts for both HCA and ECCE certificates.