By Diana Martin, Chatham Daily News
The Dresden Community Healthcare Centre is healing the rural community in more ways than one Saturday.
“On the surface this project is about health care, but really it’s also about the economic viability of this town,” said Paul Weese, president of the Dresden Community Healthcare Foundation. “This project is about the future. It will be the centre for primary health care in this area for years to come.”
The $1.6-million project includes state-of-the-art facilities for four physicians and a nurse practitioner, including the latest in electronic health record software and a modified examination room for those with reduced mobility.
Weese said the community has raised over $600,000 for the project in about seven months with 940 separate donations ranging from a few dollars up to $100,000, each as important to the construction of the building as the other.
“We have levelled the playing field with this facility. We can now compete in the recruitment market,” said Weese. “What the (Dresden) arena is to winter sports, this facility will be to health care.”
Jenifer Sewell, of Florence, toured the building with daughters Mackenzie, 12, Hunter, 9, and friend Grace Sayers, 9.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for the community to take care of each other,” she said. “We’re fortunate to have such a large facility where we all know at any point in time we can come and get the health care we need.”
Joyce Meredith was also impressed with the size of the rooms and the layout of the building.
“We just need some more doctors,” said Meredith. “I know they’re recruiting but they aren’t coming that fast.”
Meredith, who’s a patient of Dr. John Payne, said a lot of residents are worried what will happen when their doctors retire.
“I’m worried myself because I don’t know what I’m going to do if he retires,” she said. “I went to his father and then I went to him.”
Dr. Payne, who has moved his practice into the building along with Dr. Ning, said the group hopes to have some potential doctors lined up by the summer of 2013.
“Residents finish training in June and July and they’re looking. That’s when they’ve written their exams and are able to get hired on,” said Payne.
Payne is hopes to bring in students from Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry where he’s an adjunct professor.
“There will be medical students and family medicine residents coming here to train,” said Payne. “This will introduce them to our town and our family health team.”
He said three medical students from the Dresden area have shown an interest in returning home after finishing their medical training.
“New doctors (want a practice) where they can just sit down and go to work,” he said. “They want a functioning electronic health record and we’ve got a very good one, they want a good staff they want a brand new building, pleasant surroundings, and … in rural areas there are lots of patients.”
Payne said it’s been 27 years since a physician was recruited to the Dresden area.
“The time has come,” said Payne.