Experts invited to help plan for research, education at new hospital

Researchers and medical educators are meeting Tuesday to plan how Windsor’s new hospital can help make this area a leader in medical research.

The decades-old buildings that house Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette and Met locations weren’t designed with medical students, medical residents and researching scientists in mind. But the construction of a $2-billion replacement provides the opportunity to “think big” when it comes to medical research, hospital CEO David Musyj said in a news release.

Lisa Porter, a University of Windsor cancer researcher, said the current hospitals don’t have a central research office with official research happening. “As far as a research program or vision for Windsor, right now we don’t have that in place,” she said.

She said the new hospital should become an academic hospital, where research and education go hand in hand with patient care. Windsor Regional is now a community hospital, one of the largest in the province. She said the Windsor region is the largest area, population-wise in the province, without an academic centre. And academic centres attract cutting edge technology, clinical trials in which the latest drugs are available for patients, and the best medical staff.

“There’s data that shows that patients who are treated at an academic centre actually live longer, that’s a hardcore fact,” Porter said. “We can’t just put in a new system, it has to be a step up. We have to make this an academic research centre where we can do these things.”

The existing hospitals are pressed for space when it comes to accommodating the medical students and residents who get their hands-on experience there, said Gerry Cooper, associate dean of the Schulich School of Medicine’s Windsor program. For example, there aren’t enough on-call rooms where residents and students who work on-call overnight in the hospital can take a nap. There also isn’t space for students to do studying and research within the hospital.

“When those buildings were erected, we certainly have an investment in medical education like we do today,” said Cooper.

“I applaud the hospital for saying let’s work at this now, what is our vision for research and education in the future?”

The new hospital is still waiting approval to go to the second state of planning for a new acute centre that could be eight to 10 years away. Normally, detailed planning for research and education is something that would happen at a later stage. But the new hospital’s steering committee wants to start planning now, “so they are ready to move forward when given the green light,” the news release says.

The “visioning session,” the first of several, will take place Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Fogolar Furlan Club.

Source: The Windsor Star