By April Colby – Leader Spirit –
Posted January 9, 2012
DRESDEN – After two years of planning, Dresden residents now know the details of the proposed $1.2 million medical centre for the community.
A Jan. 4 meeting sponsored by the Dresden Community Health Care Foundation steering committee attracted a standing-room only crowd of nearly 150 to the Dresden Trinity Christian Centre to hear how they could be involved in the development and planning of Dresden’s new branch of the Chatham Kent Family Health Team, which will be located on Tecumseh Street.
The four original members of the steering committee, Ron Sturgis, Stuart Kiar, Paul Weese and ward-two councilor Joe Faas were all in attendance and all addressed the crowd, anxious for information on the upcoming construction and exactly what the centre would mean for the community.
“The turnout was very encouraging,” Faas said. He said he thought that many people showing interest in the centre must be a good sign for the future of the medical centre, and the support shown by the attendants should hopefully carry over into support for the centre.
Kiar joked with the crowd, saying he didn’t expect such a strong turnout.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “We were going to be happy if thirty people came, and here we are with a sign-up sheet saying we have over 139 people in attendance.”
Kiar said attendants were curious about the plans, but were also there for another reason.
“They’re here because they’re concerned about their health care,” Kiar said. “People realize it’s an issue and it’s something that has to be dealt with.”
The medical centre follows the concept of the Chatham Kent Family Heath team, a group of centres housing doctors, specialists and nurses, all designed to try and alleviate some of the stress Ontario’s emergency rooms and single-practice doctors are feeling. The new facility will hopefully house four doctors, including Dresden’s Dr. Payne and Dr. Ng, and offer the services of niche practitioners like dieticians and other specialists patients may have formerly had to leave town to visit.
The new medical centre in Dresden would require fundraising to complete, Weese said. The steering committee members offered attendants of the meeting the opportunity to sign-up to be a part of the Dresden Community Health Care Foundation at a cost of $5 per person. The membership allows members to vote in upcoming meetings, but more importantly, Weese said, shows support of the project.
“We’re not asking you to work,” he said, “We’re asking you to show your support.”
The construction of the approximately 6000 square-foot building will be taken-on by Thames Valley Construction – the same company that built the Ridgetown facility.
Both buildings will be almost identical, Weese said, with the exception being the Dresden centre won’t have the attached gym facilities.
When the building opens, Weese said he’s hoping for at least 50 per cent local ownership, which requires an investment of approximately $600,000, and working up to 100 per cent in five to ten years.
“This won’t be a sustainable building if we don’t have 50 per cent ownership,” he said. In order to achieve that goal, Weese said a loan of $250,000 is currently being negotiated, and he hopes the community will work together to raise the additional $350,000. Thames Valley Engineering is sponsoring the other $600,000 required for the building, giving the steering committee the opportunity to buy it at any time.
Currently, $63,000 has been pledged; $50,000 and $10,000 respectively from families in Dresden, and $3000 from the Catherine McVean Chapter of the IODE Tree of tribute.
“We have to believe the community supports the work we’re doing,” Weese said. “This really deals with quality of life. If we don’t have the services in this town, the town will suffer.”
Weese said having the centre in Dresden would be advantageous to the area, not only for the residents ability to see a doctor without travelling, but because it would keep money in the town.
If someone has to leave town to visit their doctor, they’re going to spend money when they leave town. Weese said having the centre in Dresden could also potentially bring visitors to the area as well.
If plans continue on as currently set-out, construction is slated to start March 1st, 2012 and complete Sept. 1st, 2012.
Laura Johnson, executive director of the CKFHT, said family heath team centres are what newly appointed doctors want. They don’t want to worry about rent or mortgage payments for their practices, paying staff and dealing with maintenance issues for their buildings, she said. A family health team gives doctors the opportunity to work in team setting, allowing the practicing doctors to share the cost of their facility as well as the burden of their case loads.
Doctors in the family heath team have access to other doctor’s patients’ files if necessary, Johnson said. If a patient’s doctor is on vacation or unable to schedule an urgent visit, the patient can still receive the same level of care from another doctor who works closely with their main practitioner. Doctors can also spend more time with their patients in the family health care team setting because patients will have easier access to specialists if necessary, Johnson said.
“It’s an easier and less expensive way to utilize all those services,” she said.
Since the CKFHT’s inception in 2006, the program has drawn nine doctors to the Chatham Kent-area practices.
“Two have relocated from the United States, and every one of them has said this is the model they want to be in,” Johnson said. “That’s the new way of family medicine in Ontario.”
Fannie Vavoulis, medical recruiter for Chatham Kent Health Alliance, agreed. Vavoulis is one of the people responsible for drawing doctors to the community, and spends time with each new prospective physician interested in relocating to the area. Prospective doctors are taken on a two or three-day tour of Chatham Kent, Vavoulis said, which gives her a good sense of what they’re looking for in a community and practice.
“I haven’t encountered one physician that wants a stand-alone practice,” she said.
The next meeting for the steering committee will be Wednesday Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. at Dresden Trinity Christian Centre, and will establish a fundraising committee and take nominations for the executive board. A local charitable foundation is being formed so donations to the foundation will be tax-deductible.
left to right) Councilor Joe Faas, Win Elzinga and Emile Michaud, both of Thames Valley Engineering, Ron Sturgis, Paul Weese and Stuart Kiar stand beside the proposed blueprints for the new Dresden family medical centre after a meeting in Dresden Trinity Christian Centre Wed. Jan. 4, 2012. Construction is slated to begin on the centre March 1. 2012 and is scheduled to be completed Sept. 1, 2012. / APRIL COLBY / THE LEADER SPIRIT / QMI AGENCY paginators