New Zealand’s University of Otago to develop Education Centre at Southland Hospital

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Mumbai: The University of Otago is developing a new $1.5 million education and research centre at its Southland campus in Invercargill, in partnership with the Southern District Health Board.

The Health Sciences Southland Education and Research Centre will be developed on the ground floor of Southern District Health Board’s education building on the hospital campus, directly below the board’s new $2.5 million Clinical Education and Skills Centre, which officially opened in November 2016.

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Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine, Professor Barry Taylor, says currently there are inadequate facilities to support staff and students on placement or based at Southland Hospital. He is delighted that after significant planning the University Council has given the green light to funding for the facility.

“We have been planning this for several years and I’m delighted that health sciences students and staff based in Southland will have the necessary facilities to support their learning, teaching and research facilities,” Professor Taylor says.

The University of Otago and Southern District Health Board have an on-going partnership across a number of areas including joint clinical staff, research, student placements and shared space. The board has approved a long-term lease arrangement for the centre and construction is expected to begin next week.

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming says the University’s investment in the Southland campus illustrates a shared vision of maximising the linkages between the DHB and the university across the region.

Professor Barry Taylor
Credit: Education New Zealand
“This new centre, which is a perfect fit with the existing education centre, reflects the importance of Southland Hospital in the southern health system,” Mr Fleming says.

“We’re delighted to be able to partner with the university in this venture. Investing in the health professionals of the future can only help improve outcomes for patients.”

The Invercargill project comes on top of the University of Otago’s recently announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art building to grow its Christchurch Health Science campus at a projected cost of $150 million, and then to redevelop the campus’ existing Riccarton Road building on the Christchurch Hospital campus.

The University also announced in August it would construct a new dental facility for Counties-Manukau in Auckland, the first time the University will have a bespoke health science teaching facility in that city.

Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Surgical Sciences and Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon at Southland Hospital, Konrad Richter, says currently they train and teach more than 250 students in Invercargill annually, with numbers increasing.

Up to 28 medical students are based at Southland Hospital at any one time, together with up to 50 other student placements annually, including allied health, pharmacy, dental and radiology students. Both of these programmes plan to increase the number of placements. Two medical laboratory science students also undertake placements at the hospital each year.

In addition to students, 19 Health Sciences staff across a range of positions and disciplines are based in Invercargill, 17 of these onsite at Southland Hospital. Currently, there is one room available to cater for all learning, teaching, research and administration activities for the students and staff.

Associate Professor Richter says the development of University facilities at the Southland campus demonstrates the good relationship between the University and the academic teaching hospital in Invercargill and will foster high-quality teaching and cooperative research projects throughout Southland and Otago.

The additional modern teaching and research facility will provide study space, tutorial and research rooms as well as modern video-conferencing facilities to enable the health professional programmes to extend student placements and increase research activity in Southland into the future, he says.

“The universal and combined utilisation of both the upper-floor clinical education and skills facilities and the newly-equipped lower-floor of the education and research centre will not only be beneficial for medical and allied health students, clinicians and nursing staff, but it will in the long-term improve the collaboration and team work between the District Health Board and the University of Otago.”

The development covers an area of 4432 that will be fitted out into a range of flexible spaces that can function as teaching rooms, student study spaces, video conferencing facilities, research space and consultation rooms.

It is expected the centre will be operational from February next year.

The University of Otago will develop a new education and research centre on the ground floor of Southern District Health Board’s education building in Invercargill.