By: Mike Anderson
After years of on-again, off-again attempts to rebuild a permanent facility for Georgina’s nurse practitioner-led clinic, the project is finally going ahead.
The announcement was made by the board of Health Georgina, formerly the Georgina Community Health Care Council, at a public meeting held at the Link on March 11.
The news was greeted by an enthusiastic round of applause from the nearly 80 grateful residents in attendance.
According to Health Georgina, a non-profit volunteer organization that works to improve local health care services, the nurse practitioners have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to occupy the building once it’s completed in Jackson’s Point.
“We are excited to be able to say to our patients that we’re going to move, and we’re going to go back to where we were,” said Beth Cowper-Fung, the clinic’s director.
“There is an enormous emotional attachment to that site for our patients and our staff, so that’s amazing.”
The new facility will be located at the clinic’s previous Dalton Road location, which was the site of the former Burrow’s medical building. The building will cost approximately $1.1 million, with completion slated for December 2020.
However, the clinic won’t be able to open until interior renovations – paid for by a $1.6 million grant made by former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne — are completed.
Suzanne Howes, board chair, is confident that the ambitious timeline can be met, and the building will be completed on-time and on-budget.
“We’re going to see this through and try to get it done as quickly as we can,” said Ms. Howes, who is also a project coordinator for the Chippewas of Georgina Island.
“I built the Island View Business Center on budget. So that’s our focus: to keep it on-budget, get as much in kind as we can, and fundraise if we have to go over.”
According to Health Georgina, the new 5,000 sq. ft. building includes an extra 1,000 sq. ft. of space that can be used to house a possible walk-in clinic, diagnostic services, or to allow the nurse practitioner clinic to expand to accommodate more patients — currently, it is capped by the province at approximately 3,200 patients.
But Ms. Howes said this will require additional funding which must be raised in the community.
“We are going to do a bunch of fundraising because phase two is going to need funding for recruiting doctors and to help the nurse practitioners with whatever they want to do in their extra space,” Ms. Howes said.
Heather Burrows, daughter of the late Dr. George Burrows, like many residents, was delighted to hear the news and is eager to help with future fundraising efforts.
“I think this is the way the town has to go,” Ms. Burrows said. “There’s a lot of elderly people here. There are also new families. And they shouldn’t have to go to a hospital in Newmarket, because it’s more than a half-an-hour drive.”
According to Sandy Young, another board member, the project’s expedited delivery date is possible because much of the preliminary work was done by people in the community, including several professionals who provided their services pro bono, including Michael Smith, Michael Smith Planning Consultants, and lawyer Mark Altwerger, Altwerger Law.
Mr. Young also singled out Dave Stiles, owner of Stiles Tree Service, who’s company cleared trees from the building site — accepting a charitable receipt for fifty-percent of his fee.
“It’s important that we have the feeling that the community cares and the community is pitching-in,” Mr. Young said.
“At the end of the day, it’s our clinic, not the board’s, not the town’s, ours. So these people are working on behalf of their community.”
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