Windsor Star article published Jan. 21, 2020
By Mary Caton
A long-awaited new nurse practitioner clinic opened its doors to patients in Amherstburg this week.
The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (ECNPLC) has expanded its services into Amherstburg under a 10-year agreement with the town.
They also have clinics in Essex and Windsor
The latest becomes the first tenant to operate in the renovated Amherstburg Community Hub which formerly served as St. Bernard’s elementary school on Richmond Street.
The town purchased the school from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board two years ago with the goal of creating a hub.
Pauline Gemmell, ECNPLC’s executive director, wrote a business case for an Amherstburg location in the summer of 2018.
Her expansion proposal was one of three across the province to receive funding approval from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Sudbury and North Bay were the other centres to receive financial support.
Town council approved the necessary renovations to the school in January 2019 following the ministry approval of $650,000 in funding.
Plans initially called for the clinic to open in the spring of 2019.
“It was a busy year for construction in this area and it slowed everything down,” Gemmell said. “We weren’t exempt from that. The space is great though, we love it, the only negative was that it took a while to get finished. We’re excited and we know the community has really been waiting for it.”
The clinic has three full-time nurse practitioners, one full-time registered practical nurse, one half-time social worker, one half-time health promoter and physical therapist. They are in the process of hiring a half-time registered dietician.
The clinic has the potential to serve 2,400 patients and is now accepting applications.
“We’re not anywhere close to being full so anyone interested in applying please do,” Gemmell said.
Applications can be picked up at the clinic, which is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Another major hub tenant, Amherstburg Community Services, hopes to move in sometime in March.
ACS executive director Kathy DiBartolomeo said the extra space in the new facility will allow the organization to offer new programming in addiction services, counselling and outreach.
“We’ll be able to accommodate more of the demands for all these services because we have more space,” DiBartolomeo said. “We can do workshops and cooking classes and we’ll truly be expanding to all sectors of the community.”
New services will include Al-Anon, grief support, adolescent counselling and addiction counselling.
Staff will soon be doing an educational outreach to area elementary and secondary schools to inform guidance counsellors directly of available ACS services.
“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do and I think the timing is right as our services are increasing,” DiBartolomeo said.
ACS is currently located on Victoria Street.
With 20,000 square feet of hub space still available, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said administration is finalizing negotiations with other interested groups of which there’s been no shortage.
“We’ve got more interested parties than we have space for,” DiCarlo said. “It’s a good problem to have but we’ll have to make some decisions on who we think fits best in there.”