Town celebrates new medical clinic

The new medical building here that was officially opened on Oct. 22 even has room for an ambulance.

And while that new bay might be thinking too far ahead in some city circles (Guelph runs land ambulance in Wellington County and it has opposed an ambulance being stationed in Erin), the townspeople here were ecstatic at the grand opening of a new building for the East Wellington Family Health team.

That building was erected by Baghai Development, of Toronto, whose owner, Shane Baghai, has property in Erin and Halton. He built the building and rents to the health team, as well as a pharmacy on the lower level, which also features the first underground parking in Wellington County.

Family Health Team executive director Michelle Karker called the project “a great public-private partnership.” She said the Ministry of Health pays for the lease of the space, Erin now has room for up to six physicians and other health care workers in a modern building.

Karker noted that the Family Health Team had just last year opened a clinic in Rockwood, and that both communities now have better opportunities for health care and finding a family doctor.

She said over 200 people were involved in the Erin project, and that included MPP Ted Arnott, and MP Michael Chong, who worked long and hard to support the project. They were both in attendance at the opening. She said it took over a year from the idea and the approach to Shane Baghai, to meeting the ministry guidelines to the opening of the 9,000 square foot building.

“It’s wonderful for everyone who worked so hard to make this building a reality,” Karker said.

Family Health Team chairman John Wilson said the opening “was a long time coming.”

He said Erin Mayor Rod Finnie helped to get development funding and things fell into place.

It was not easy, though, Wilson admitted. “A week ago you would never have thought it would come together.” He noted the entrance had been paved earlier that day. “Shane has never failed to surprise us with what he is capable of,” Wilson said of Baghai.

The clinic has three doctors, health care providers such as a dietician, and an administrative staff. Wilson said the plan is to add three more doctors. He expected that up to 4,000 citizens would now be able to have a family doctor.

It will also offer education and clinics for diabetes and such things as sleep disorders and quitting smoking.

Wilson noted that two years ago Erin and old Eramosa were in dire straits because Rockwood had lost its doctor and Erin lost two. The community turned to a Family Health Team to find a solution, and now they both have one. The clinic will have the latest telemedicine network, and technicians can use specialists for diagnoses and those specialists do not even have to be on site.

Wilson said the two communities used “two very different solutions” to solve similar difficulties.

He said the key was to get the right people working on the projects and “don’t rush ahead of the Ministry of Health.”

Wilson said the Family Health Team Board was terrific and had so much ability in areas of finance and law and communications, and it provided “a real advantage.”

The health team rents its space in the building in the same way as any other tenant would.

Wilson said the next tricky business starts when the health team moves from its two offices in Erin into the single building. That will take place in November.

Baghai said, “In Toronto, it’s the politicians that get things done. Here, it’s the people who turn the wheel.”

He also announced that night, immediately after the ribbon cutting, that he and his wife, Marni, were donating $5,000 to the Erin Family Health Team.