Health team to move into old library
With the Fort Frances Community Clinic having recently acquired the former public library building on Church Street, the Fort Frances Family Health Team will be moving into the new site next year and expand its health-care programming for the community.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to expand our existing clinical space since our programming has continued to grow but our space has been very limited,” Marlis Bruyere, executive director of the Fort Frances Family Health Team, said yesterday.
“More clinical space in a newly-renovated clinic will ensure a positive ability to attract and recruit new physicians to the Fort Frances area,” Bruyere added.
Bruyere said that, in the last five years, the Fort Frances Community Clinic has added a wide variety of health-care programming to meet the community’s needs.
This has included access to primary care nurse practitioners, as well as access to:
•daily management of international normalized ratios (INRs);
•daily blood pressure clinics at the patient’s convenience;
•daily B-12 clinics at the patient’s convenience;
•walk-in and evening clinics;
•advanced wound care for all surgical and diabetic patients;
•advanced spirometry for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients;
•lower leg assessments for diabetic patients;
•diabetic and elderly foot care;
•cardiovascular disease/congestive heart failure programming;
•smoking cessation; and
•mental health and addictions counselling for youth.
But all of this is being provided in a limited space, said Bruyere.
“Right now, we’ve got seven practitioners working out of four exam rooms,” she stressed.
“It’s a huge scheduling nightmare.
“People who need spirometry or foot care can’t be seen as often because maybe [those rooms] have to be used for wound care or blood pressure clinics,” added Bruyere.
“We’re moving the rooms around all the time.
“This way, every program will have a room dedicated for it and it can run the five days rather than just two or three,” she explained.
“It will open it up for people so much better.”
At the new location, the clinic also will be able to attract other health-care opportunities, such as a lipid clinic and a sleep apnea clinic.
“We definitely need the lipid clinic,” said Bruyere. “Lipids are what they monitor when they monitor people’s cholesterol, so that was something we’d like to open up but we just don’t have the space for it.
“We could start that now, we’re all ready to go with that, but we just don’t have the space.
“With that one, people can just drop in and have their lipids checked whenever, and to me, that’s so much more convenient for people rather than having to make an appointment for those kinds of smaller details,” she reasoned.
“That’s what we do with the B-12 clinics already, that’s what we do with the blood pressure clinics—people can just come in at their convenience and someone will take their blood pressure right away,” noted Bruyere.
“Then, you can save the appointments for the more serious things you might be experiencing, and people aren’t tying up appointments just because they need their blood pressure checked or their lipids checked.”
As for the sleep apnea clinic, Bruyere said the clinic had been approached a couple of years ago by the one in Thunder Bay, which had expressed interest in opening a satellite office in Fort Frances because a lot people from this area are being tested for sleep apnea there.
“It would have to be something we would do in conjunction with the hospital,” said Bruyere. “But if they needed the space, maybe we could renovate part of the [new location] for that.
“It’s just something we’re tossing around,” she added. “We haven’t decided anything, but there are possibilities.”
Renovations at the new location hopefully will start sometime this fall, with the Family Health Team moving in next spring, said Bruyere.
For the time being, only the upper level of the building will be renovated and subsequently utilized (the upper level currently is handicap accessible).
When the lower level is needed and consequently renovated for use, an elevator will have to be put in.
The doctors will continue to see patients over at the current clinic.
“What’s nice is we’re just connected by the parking lot, so if we have to consult with the doctors, we just run over and it’s still really convenient,” said Bruyere.
“Or if they have to consult with us—there’s just a small parking lot between us.”
The first priority of the Fort Frances Community Clinic is to benefit health care in our community, and to ensure that people living in the Fort Frances catchment area are receiving the best and newest health-care opportunities, Bruyere explained.
“Expanding our existing clinic space will ensure that happens.”
The town had put out a call for expressions of interest in the old public library building last spring and got a couple responses, including one from the Fort Frances Community Clinic.
Negotiations were ongoing until last month, when town council declared the land surplus and passed a bylaw to finalize the sale of the property to the Fort Frances Community Clinic for the sum of $2.