By Mary Caton, The Windsor Star
Renovations will begin soon on the shuttered St. Bernard’s elementary school in Amherstburg in order to transform part of the building into a new nurse practitioner-led clinic.
The town purchased the school from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board last year with an eye towards making it a community hub.
“Shovels will be flying once the construction companies are in place,” said Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo.
Town council approved the necessary renovations Monday on the heels of receiving approval from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for $650,000 in funding for the clinic.
Now that we’ve got the expansion funding, we’re very excited.
The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (ECNPLC) will expand its services into Amherstburg under a 10-year agreement.
The group presently has clinics in Essex and Windsor.
Pauline Gemmell, ECNPLC’s executive director, wrote a business case for an Amherstburg location last summer.
“We had been told there was a need in the community,” Gemmell said. “Now that we’ve got the expansion funding, we’re very excited.”
Gemmell said the Amherstburg clinic will have three full-time nurse practitioners, one full-time registered practical nurse, one half-time social worker, one half-time registered dietitian, one half-time health promoter and physiotherapy services.
She said each nurse practitioner takes care of approximately 800 patients, meaning the clinic could serve 2,400 patients.
“We have all kinds of (patient) applications already,” she said. “We are anticipating we’ll probably be full pretty quickly.”
The ECNPLC’s website explains its clinic model “is designed to improve access to care for the thousands of individuals and families who do not currently have a primary health-care provider.”
A nurse practitioner can assess, diagnose and treat a wide range of health issues in consultation with physicians and other health-care professionals.
“We do a lot of education in our clinics,” Gemmell said.
Gemmell said the Amherstburg clinic will require approximately 4,000 square feet of space within the defunct school’s 30,000-square-foot imprint.
The goal is to have the clinic up and running by spring or early summer.
DiCarlo said discussions continue with other possible tenants, including “at least one more big client” he hopes to announce in the near future.
He’d like the hub to offer a mix of services “that generally spreads across the generations. I don’t like the old idea of putting seniors in the corner. I like the idea of mixing young and old. We’d like to see some shared use agreements.”