The $1 million renovation, paid for out of the hospital's own capital budget, created four sleep rooms for medical residents who are on call, as well as three classrooms and three meeting rooms.
The addition came about partly because of comments made by the officials conducting the Northern Ontario School of Medicine's accreditation process, the hospital's senior vice-president explains.
“They said you're not meeting the accreditation standards, because you don't have enough sleep rooms, so we built some additional sleep rooms,” Joe Pilon said. “They said you don't have enough classrooms, so we built some additional classrooms.”
The hospital's new Ramsey Lake Health Centre, completed a three-and-a-half years ago, was designed before the creation of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, he said.
Rather than go back and redesign it — thus creating more delays — the hospital decided to go ahead with the project as it was and add on space for the medical learners at a later date.
The Ramsey Lake Health Centre addition should meet the needs of medical learners until the hospital is able to secure funding for a multimillion dollar learners centre on its campus, Pilon said.
Right now, the need for medical learners space is growing each year, he said. Because NOSM is so new, the complement of its graduates completing their residencies out in the field is still growing each year, Pilon said. It usually takes several years for a newly-minted doctor to complete a residency.
The province approved the learners centre project in principle two years ago, with the understanding the funding wouldn't be available until the 2015-2016 financial year.
Pilon said he doesn't want to talk about how much the building will cost in advance of the tendering process, but said it will be in the millions of dollars.
Once the funding is awarded and the contract is handed out, it should only take about a year to put up the building, which will be about 28,000 square feet in size, he said.