Health Sciences proposes new medical building

‘After 150 years we thought it was about time’

The Faculty of Health Sciences currently operates out of Botterell Hall and other buildings on campus.
The Faculty of Health Sciences currently operates out of Botterell Hall and other buildings on campus.

The Faculty of Health Sciences is pursuing a proposal for construction of a new School of Medicine building it hopes will be underway in the next couple of years.

“We don’t actually have one at the minute. After 150 years, we thought it was about time,” said David Walker, dean of health sciences.

“We don’t want to get too far behind. We should be leaders, I think.” Right now the School of Medicine operates out of Botterell Hall, Kingston General Hospital, the Hotel Dieu and several “old houses on Barrie Street,” Walker said.

The space crunch is underscored by the medical school’s expansion, Walker said. It has grown 35 per cent in the past six years, and the government wants to see it grow more to help alleviate Ontario’s doctor shortage.

Even the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the body responsible for accrediting North American medical schools, has remarked on inadequacies in Queen’s medical school facilities.

The medical school’s lack of facilities isn’t a threat to its accreditation, Walker said—at least, not yet.

“It would be, eventually, if you blew it off, but no.”

The medical school was originally housed in the Old Medical Quadrangle behind Summerhill, but moved to Botterell, the hospitals and various classrooms scattered around campus as training needs changed.

The new building’s proposed location is the parking lot behind Abramsky Hall.

Walker estimated the building would cost between $20 million and $40 million dollars, although he said they can’t be sure until they get an architect to go over what they want and give them an estimate.

The faculty has put out a request for proposals and hopes to find an architect in the next couple of months.

They already have about $10 million set aside that could go towards the new building, $7 million of which is from an alumnus’s trust.

Walker said the faculty will approach alumni and the government for donations, but probably won’t impose much of a fee on medical students to pay for a new building.

“You don’t get an awful lot from fee increases with only 400 medical students and … we have to consider the debt of the students, as well,” he said. “I doubt, rather, that any significant amount for this would come out of the student pockets.”

Right now the project faces approval by several bodies, including the Board of Trustees planning committee and financial committee, before it can go through.

Walker said it would be nice to have “a shovel in the ground” before his term as dean ends in June 2010 but he’s not sure that will be possible.

“It’s like doing your bathroom; it’s always twice as expensive and takes twice as long as you think.”

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