Tuesday 2 February 2016 8:16pm
The Dental School now operates over two sites, with nearly 100 staff and postgraduate students temporarily shifting from its West Wing to the hospital’s former Children’s Pavilion last week.
Staff work to move equipment and lights during the shift last week. Photo: Sharron Bennett.
It has been a hectic and often emotional few months for the Dental School’s West Wing staff and postgraduate students packing to make way for a comprehensive $126 million, three-and-a-half year construction and upgrade project.
The West Wing, which sits behind the main, glass-fronted John Walsh Building on Great King Street, was built in 1981 and is scheduled for demolition from March 2016. Last month its offices, clinics and simulation, or ‘sim’, suites (where students use ‘phantom’ heads to learn the fine motor skills of their profession) were filled with carefully numbered boxes, furniture and equipment, waiting for the removal company to ferry them over to the Dunedin Hospital’s former Children’s Pavilion.
Who has moved? Who remains?
The Children’s Pavilion fit-out will house some 50 staff and 46 postgraduate students, plus up to 56 undergraduates for simulation labs when the 2016 academic year begins. The staff in the Departments of Oral Rehabilitation, Oral Sciences, Oral Health, Orthodontics, Paediatric Dentistry and Periodontics had access to their new offices from Wednesday 27 January.
All of the Dental School’s public clinics, the John Walsh Research Institute and the main administration offices will remain in the John Walsh building throughout the upgrade, and the Dental Library has merged with the Medical Library just across the street.
Business-as-usual despite move
For West Wing staff and students, last December was a flurry of packing, sorting, discarding, shredding and dismantling. Emails and newsletters giving deadlines, sharing packing tips and sources for extra boxes and bubble wrap appeared with increasing regularity.
"I am delighted with the way staff have already started to adapt to working across two sites to ensure we continue to provide a high quality academic experience for our students."
Faculty of Dentistry Dean Professor Paul Brunton says, “Against this backdrop, it has been business as usual for our hard working and dedicated staff. I am delighted with the way staff have already started to adapt to working across two sites to ensure we continue to provide a high quality academic experience for our students.”
Don Schwass, who is both a Department of Oral Rehabilitation Senior Lecturer, and Associate Dean (Capital Build), says it has been quite a stressful and an emotional time for many people.
“I started to shed a tear when the ‘sim’ suite was dismantled. I’ve had some terrific teaching experiences in there.”
A challenging project
Property Services Project Manager Jamie Cargill says the shift has been a very challenging project for his team.
“We needed to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the Dental School, the Hospital’s Children’s Outpatients and the crèche on the ground floor while it occurred.
"The German manufacturer was very interested in the shift, because no one’s ever done this with simulation plant before."
“The biggest challenge has been pulling apart the equipment and plant for the sim suite. The plant that powers the sim suite has been packed into a 40 foot container and shifted to the balcony a floor below the new suite and plugged in. The simulation suite supplier, Sirona, and their contractor Dental and Medical Equipment, were very innovative, keeping all the sim modules intact and lifting them out in frames. Each module has four student work stations on it. The German manufacturer was very interested in the shift, because no one’s ever done this with simulation plant before.”
The future looks bright
When those who have just moved to the Children’s Pavilion return to the Dental School, the whole of its car park area will have been filled with a new Clinical Services building connected by an Atrium to the John Walsh Building – built in 1961 – which will also be refurbished.
Right now demolition of the Barningham Building adjacent to the Dental School car park is nearly complete. The building previously housed the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (now temporarily located at Logan Park and the College of Education while awaiting new premises).