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Welikoklad Simulation Lab named in honour of support from local family

Red Deer Polytechnic celebrates generous donation
RDP president Stuart Cullum, Irma Welikoklad and Bill Welikoklad were among RDP leaders and members of the Welikoklad family who toured the newly named Welikoklad Simulation Lab on March 1, 2023. (Contributed)

Upgrades to a simulation lab will better prepare Red Deer Polytechnic health sciences students to look after patients.

At the Welikoklad Simulation Lab, named after Bill and Irma Welikoklad whose donation made the upgrades possible, students work through simulations of real-world patient care scenarios to develop competence and confidence in a safe environment.

Facilitated by instructors, students will either work with actors, who represent a variety of patient scenarios or with high-fidelity manikins that simulate a range of high-pressure situations, such as cardiac arrest.

While the Welikoklad Simulation Lab is not a new facility, the upgrades significantly improve learners’ experiences. The Welikoklad’s donation will be used to create three new debriefing rooms and two new simulation suites in the current expansion with upgrades to the audio-visual system to better replicate a clinical environment, sound-proofing construction upgrades, and new high-fidelity manikins.

Sharon Hamilton, dean of the School of Community, Wellness and Health, said the lab will help students develop critical skills in patient care.

“Through these experiential learning opportunities, including mandatory professional practice and simulation learning, they are prepared to navigate high pressure and challenging circumstances with the calm confidence their patients require,” Hamilton said in a statement.

More than 800 students each year learn within the lab. This includes students enrolled in Bachelor of Science – Nursing, Practical Nurse Diploma, Pharmacy Technician Diploma, Occupational and Physical Therapy Diploma and Medical Lab Assistant Certificate.

RDP said these are popular programs, with high enrolment and high demand for graduates.

The Welikoklads have supported a number of initiatives at RDP, including the downtown campus expansion, where the Welikoklad Event Centre was named in 2015 in recognition of their gift. In 2009, they established an endowment with their business, Red Deer’s Home Building Centre, to support five annual awards for Trades and Business students.

“Bill and Irma Welikoklad are champions of our institution, and they’ve invested in Red Deer Polytechnic students for many years,” said RDP president Stuart Cullum.

“The Welikoklad Simulation Lab is indicative of the kind of innovative experiential learning opportunities we provide at Red Deer Polytechnic, and we’re proud to acknowledge Bill and Irma in the space. We’re grateful for their generous gift and for their continued support for the work that we do.”

Since 1938, Bill Welikoklad has lived less than a mile from RDP’s main campus. He and his family have watched the city grow and in 1966, Bill worked as a general foreman on the construction team that built Red Deer Junior College.

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