FERGUS – It’s been cleaned, furnished and hooked up to the internet and now Gartshore House is ready to host locum doctors, interns and residents testing the waters at Groves Memorial Community Hospital.
Centre Wellington Township has partnered with the hospital in its efforts to bring health care professionals here and offered up the historic farmhouse at 965 Gartshore Street, on property the township recently purchased to build a new operations centre.
As construction at the site won’t begin for another year or two, and the house is in good condition, the township offered the house as a temporary fix for doctors, who want to work at the hospital short-term but have trouble finding accommodation in this bustling, tourist town.
Now dubbed Gartshore House, the township and hospital held a media open house on June 7 allowing a peek inside before it’s occupied.
Angela Stanley, president and CEO of Groves hospital, said there’s a significant shortage of family physicians in the area and they work in the emergency department as well as keep their own office hours.
The hospital has tried getting locums, “but they often need a place to stay and that is one of the biggest barriers,” she said.
“Locums are a good pool to draw from. Once we get them here, we can entice them to stay.”
She added, “The communities were serve are beautiful – that in itself is a good sell.”
The Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses have also stepped up, providing furnishings and other provisions to make the house comfortable.
Much of the furnishing came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Wellington County purchased new mattresses and bedding; Giant Tiger provided smaller household items; Shades4u installed black-out shades; and Pam Stumpf of Refreshed and Refined Interiors gave the place a decorator’s touch.
The house was built in the 1870s and has four bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and an eat-in kitchen and living room on the main floor.
Up to four doctors can stay at a time. Three doctors are booked for June for one- or two-week stays.
Stanley said she’s grateful the business community has stepped up because “health care is a community issue and this community is taking it seriously.”
While many municipalities are facing the same issue, the partnership between the township and hospital is unique, Stanley said.
“We knew we had this property,” said Mayor Shawn Watters.
“It didn’t take long for council to figure out this is the right thing to do.
“And this house – we knew we could get it going right away.”
Locum doctors can stay in the house at no cost. Bookings are done through the hospital.
While the house is not designated as a heritage structure, the township intends to retain it and use it as office space when the operations centre is built.