New health care centre to replace aging medical clinic in Middleton, N.S.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia announces new health-care centre for Middleton'
Nova Scotia announces new health-care centre for Middleton
WATCH: A new $12-million health-care facility will replace the existing medical clinic next to the Soldiers Memorial Hospital. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports – Aug 6, 2019

Premier Stephen McNeil announced Tuesday that construction of a new primary care centre beside the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, N.S., is set to begin this fall.

The $12-million facility will replace the aging medical clinic next to the hospital, which doesn’t have enough space to meet the existing demand.

Dr. Leslie Ribeiro, who practices there, said its hallways are cramped, it isn’t wheelchair accessible and there are few windows. But the new facility, whose design is about six times larger, is expected to change that.

“That means that each practitioner will be able to have their own space, we won’t have as much of a worry of overlapping,” she told reporters on the hospital’s front lawn, where the new primary care centre will eventually be built.

“And we’ll be able to take on students – not only medical students but also nurse practitioner students, dietitian students – all kinds in order to help with the training and hopefully, recruit them to this area.”

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Dr. Leslie Ribeiro speaks about “hopes and dreams” for the new primary care centre that will soon be built outside the Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, N.S. during a provincial announcement on Aug. 6, 2019. Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

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The new building will have more exam rooms and meeting rooms, a larger registration and waiting area, and new space for health professionals visiting the centre.

“We know many new primary health-care professionals want to work in team-based care, and this purpose-built clinic will support collaboration and the delivery of comprehensive primary health care for patients,” said Janet Knox, president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

McNeil anticipated that the facility will meet the needs of the community it serves for “decades to come,” and was designed with the future in mind.

“This is an important piece of infrastructure,” he told Global News. “It’s why we’ve been working over the last, really, 18 months with the teams here to ensure that when we were designing it, it was meeting the requirements that they need.”

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But the new facility comes at a local cost – the Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation is expected to fundraise $1 million of the project’s $12-million tab.

Jim Mosher, its chairman, said the most the foundation has fundraised in the past is about $250,000 for new surgery equipment, and he expects the team will have to hire new people to help rake in the extra cash.

“We’re not used to campaigning for money, we’re used to using our investment fund to raise returns on that, and then spending the returns on the hospital here,” he explained. “So this will be new for us and we’re going to have to adopt new methods.”

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The Middleton primary care centre, expected to be completed in fall of 2020, is one of several major health care infrastructure announcements touted by the provincial government in recent weeks.

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Earlier this month, McNeil approved a new community health centre and nursing home in New Waterford, another health centre and long-term care home in North Sydney, and contributions to a hospice in Membertou.

“All of these things are a part of making sure we’re competitive and the environment that we’re in is providing the kind of infrastructure that people want to practice in today,” he said.

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