Sicamous plans multi-million-dollar wellness centre to attract doctors
Build it and they will come. That’s the theory behind a proposal for a new multi-million-dollar wellness centre in Sicamous, B.C.
The small Shuswap community is hoping a new 24,000 square foot, three-storey building to house primary health-care facilities will help attract doctors and other medical professionals to the area.
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Sicamous hopes the facility will house not just doctors’ offices but also things like addictions counselling, dental care and physiotherapy.
Right now, Sicamous only has one family doctor who is hoping to retire.
Pam Beech is married to the community’s only doctor and has managed Sicamous’ medical clinic for roughly 40 years.
“It has gotten really hard for us to accommodate everybody, so we refer out a lot,” Beech said of the current medical clinic.
Beech said residents know their doctor is getting older and thinking about retirement.
“We have been recruiting for 11 years,” Beech said.
“It makes [residents] quite anxious thinking what is going to happen so it is really important for us to make some really positive solutions for the community in terms of attracting practitioners here.”
Beech is a big proponent of the wellness centre proposal.
She believes a wellness centre would make the prospect of setting up a practice in a rural community less daunting for doctors as they would have support from other professionals right in the same building.
The question mark is whether the District of Sicamous can secure a grant from the federal and provincial governments to pay for the wellness centre.
The entire project, including the land, is expected to cost nearly $7 million and the district is hoping to get most of that money, more than $6 million, from grant funding.
Sicamous plans to pay for the land itself by selling off other property.
However, the district said they will face competition from other communities for the grant and won’t know until the fall whether their bid is successful.
If the district does secure the funding, construction on the project is expected to start in the spring of 2020.
Sicamous wants to build the structure on Main Street in the hopes it will also help revitalize the downtown core.
The district hopes the wellness centre would provide services not just to Sicamous but also the surrounding region including local First Nations communities.
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