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$550,000 for improvements to Group Health Centre (updated)

The Group Health Centre is in the process of a bit of a facelift.

The Group Health Centre is in the process of a bit of a facelift.

Through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s community development program, $550,000 of provincial funding, which is also being matched by the GHC, the facility is going to see $1.1 million in upgrades done to the facility.

Work has already begun in the basement of the GHC where nearly 5,000 square feet of space is being renovated to add more examination rooms and a nursing hub that will be used by both physicians and medical students.

“We’ll have room for five physicians and there will be 15 examining rooms and we anticipate up to six medical students,” said GHC President/CEO Grant Walsh. “There is nothing old that will be in this space. It’s a $1.1 million project with all new furnishings, equipment, the space itself and advanced technology.”

Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti was on hand in making the announcement on Thursday and spoke of the improvements the upgrades will have.

“The 15 examination rooms will help accelerate wait times and also take an additional step forward in creating greater opportunities for recruitment,” Orazietti said. “That’s really important for the community. We’ve made tremendous progress in the last number of years in terms of connecting individuals who were previously orphan patients with physicians or primary health-care providers.”

“This is a long-standing organization that carries the lions share of primary care access in Sault Ste. Marie,” Orazietti added. “The step that we’re taking today is going to further expand the capacity here at the Group Health Centre, accelerate the wait times and create better space in relationship with recruitment for physicians and partnership with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.”

The renovations are expected to be complete by March 1, 2013.

Full text of a news release issued today by David Orazietti follows.

Orazietti announces $550,000 for improvements to Group Health Centre

Province continues increasing access to primary care providers and health care services in Sault Ste. Marie

SAULT STE. MARIE - The province is improving access to quality front-line health care services in Sault Ste. Marie by investing $550,000 to renovate nearly 5,000 square feet of the Group Health Centre in order to build more examination rooms and a nursing hub that will be used by both physicians and medical students, David Orazietti, MPP announced today.

“The province has delivered unprecedented support for health care in Sault Ste. Marie and we continue to make improvements with investments in new infrastructure at locations, such as the Group Health Centre, that will increase access to front-line services closer to home,” said Orazietti. “These new examination rooms and the nursing hub decreases the wait time for patients and provides more training space for medical students, which benefits everyone.”

Provincial funding of $550,000 is being provided through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s (NOHFC) Community Development Program.

This funding is being used by the Group Health Centre to convert nearly 5,000 square feet of existing space into 15 new exam rooms, a learning centre, a central nursing hub, increased office space, a reception station and a waiting area.

The new front-line health care service area will provide medical students, many of which are from Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area, with better quality training space while also helping to decrease wait times for patients.

"This generous funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Funding Corporation is wonderful in that it will assist the Group Health Centre in improving service to our patients and, at the same time, providing an educational opportunity for learners from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” said Grant Walsh, President and CEO of the Group Health Centre. ”We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and support of this funding."

Earlier this year, the province provided the Group Health Centre with a new $38 million five year agreement that secures funding for local programs and services, such as the cardiac care rehabilitation program, and creates a new governance structure for more efficient operations.

Additional investments by the province that are further improving access to front-line health care in Sault Ste. Marie include support for the Superior Family Health Team, which has added over 5,500 new patients to its roster and the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic, which since opening in October 2011 has registered over 1,500 new patients.

In contrast to the actions of past provincial governments the current government has increased health care funding by over 60 percent since 2003, increased medical school training spaces by 38 percent, increased nurse practitioner training spaces by 135 percent, opened the first new medical school in 30 years, more than doubled the number of training spaces for foreign trained doctors and licensed more new physicians than at any other time in Ontario's history.

In order to attract more physicians to the North, the province created the Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative (NRRRI) and the Postgraduate Return of Service Program, which are already responsible for attracting more physicians to Sault Ste. Marie.

Ontario is also the first province to invest in Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics and the province has created important programs, such as Health Care Connect, to accelerate the process of finding a family doctor.