By Heidi Riedner, Georgina Advocate
A new permanent facility for Georgina’s nurse practitioner-led clinic and its more than 3,000 patients may be up and running by the end of 2020, but it will be on its former Dalton Road location rather than part of a Lake Drive development on the books since 2010.
It has been a long and, at times, arduous road for the clinic on its way to a permanent location, including a stalled commercial development, a devastating fire and a comprehensive 15-document application to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that took two years to come to fruition.
The clinic had been calling the former Burrows medical building on Dalton Road home while it waited for a development slated for the vacant Lake Drive lot adjacent to the Jackson’s Point parkette to make its way through the planning queue.
While the Liberals approved $1.6M for the clinic’s interior space in October of 2017, there was still a vacant lot rather than a commercial building on the Lake Drive site seven years after the first development plan was tabled.
“With the interior dollars ready to go, the new owners were urged to get a shovel in the ground as soon as possible to make this work from our end, but they still hadn’t completed their application process with the town for the entire build on the site,” clinic director Beth Cowper-Fund explained.
Getting shovels in the ground took on new urgency after a fire gutted the Dalton Road building in January of this year, forcing the nurse practitioner-led clinic’s temporary relocation to 152 High St. in Sutton.
The Georgina Community Health Care Council, which owned the Burrows building, approached the clinic’s board and asked if it would be interested in coming back to that site if there was a new exterior shell provided by them.
“We had to check with legal counsel to ensure that we could actually make that change and check with the (ministry) that they were OK with us making that change and everyone was understanding because of the situation,” Cowper-Fung said.
At its annual general meeting last month, the clinic board weighed its options and announced it would “rebuild” on the Dalton Road location.
“It has been very difficult from January to September because we were trying to figure out what we could do legally, what we could do ethically, what was best for the town and what was best for our patients,” Cowper-Fung said. “At least now we have a direction.”
The council and the clinic are still working out the finer details of their agreement, including timelines, but Cowper-Fung said it will most likely take two years for the new building to make its way through the town’s application process, building permit and site plan approvals as well as construction.
In the interim, the clinic will continue to provide services out of its High Street location and give its temporary 4,000-sq.-ft site, split between two floors, a bit of a facelift with new flooring.
While the past nine months have been disruptive for staff and an adjustment for patients, Cowper-Fung had a huge shout-out for the High Street building owners, who have been “amazing” right from the start and “very accommodating and responsive” to the clinic’s needs.
Cowper-Fung also had kind words for patients, who have been “pretty darn understanding,” as well as local businesses for their continued support.
That includes Manor Dental and the Georgina Arts Centre & Gallery, which offered their parking lots for clinic staff to ensure patients had spots close to the building.
While a challenge, Cowper-Fung speaks to the strides made by the clinic during the past seven years since opening its multi-disciplinary model of health care and the perseverance of all involved during the past nine months, including getting the clinic up and operating at its temporary location within 39 hours after the fire.
“It shows the resilience of the staff, board and community to ensure high-level, high-quality, accessible health care for our residents.”
During the past year alone, the clinic’s 11 full-time and seven part-time staff have seen more than 12,000 patient appointments, conducted 710 outreach and home visits and added 111 new patients to their roster.