French Hospital Medical Center held a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for its Copeland Health Education Pavilion, which is expected to open by 2016 on the hospital’s Johnson Avenue campus and provide space for medical training, community education and research activities.
The 18,000-square-foot, three-story building will include classrooms, an auditorium and two technologically advanced hospital rooms that will serve as simulation labs for medical staff and students to practice specific patient care procedures.
The rooms will be equipped with computerized male and female patient mannequins that are so life-like that they can breathe, groan and simulate medical emergencies.
Designed by San Luis Obispo architect Brian Starr, the pavilion will have a computer-controlled energy-saving heating and cooling system, and expansive windows with views of a one-acre eucalyptus grove.
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“We are thrilled to begin construction on this brand-new 18,000-square-foot building,” French Hospital president and CEO Alan Iftiniuk said at the event. “It is our first new facility built on the French Hospital campus in decades.”
The pavilion, which Iftiniuk said will cost $7 million to $10 million, is named for donors Jim and Sandra Copeland and Thomas and Pamela Copeland. Iftiniuk wouldn’t say Wednesday how much the family donated, but the Copeland family announced last year that it had given $1 million toward the hospital’s expansion.
In 2007, the Copelands also joined two other couples — Bert and Candace Forbes, and Rob and Laurie Rossi — in donating $2.1 million to French Hospital for a new $8 million cardiac surgical center.
“They are true philanthropists and great citizens of the community,” Iftiniuk said.
The new pavilion will not only be used by medical personnel; the building’s auditorium and classrooms will be available for use by community groups at no charge, Iftiniuk said.
As part of its mission under the federal Affordable Care Act to help the public avoid hospitalization or readmission to a hospital, French will also offer health and wellness programs at the facility.
“We’re always training nurses, technicians and physicians on new processes and procedures,” Iftiniuk said. “We also have a new inherited responsibility to educate the community on preventative steps they can take to live healthier lives.”
French Hospital and Cal Poly have recently launched a research partnership with a first study now underway that analyzes how couples can work together effectively to avoid maternal obesity during pregnancy. The study is led by Suzanne Phelan, a professor of kinesiology at Cal Poly, and its results can be incorporated into the community programs.
The subject is an extension of previous work Phelan has done. In 2011, she received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an online weight-loss program for low-income mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight within a year of giving birth.
The new pavilion will also figure into a partnership between French Hospital and Cuesta College, said college President Gil Stork. The college offers training programs for nursing, medical assistants, emergency medical technicians, and certified nursing assistants.
“We’re looking for a way we can collaborate with French for in-service training and professional development,” Stork said. “The potential is huge.”