Wingham medical centre prepares for doctors - April 20, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Royal Oaks Medical Centre, at the site of the previous Wingham Public School, will be moving doctors from the existing clinic space at the Wingham and District Hospital to their new offices in the building marking the completion of the project.
The structure, which was bought two years ago to provide more space for the Wingham hospital and other healthcare organizations in the community, is a realization of the importance of centralization in a rural community according to Hospital CEO Karl Ellis.
“In rural healthcare it’s important to have people working closer together,” he said. “That goal is made easier with a structure like this: a single campus.”
The centre, which is across the road from the existing hospital, doesn’t represent a want to expand Ellis said, but was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up.
“We weren’t looking for new real estate, but it made sense to co-locate services and groups to that location,” he said.
The site is already home to several organization including OneCare, the Huron County Health Unit and Royal Oaks Remedy’s Pharmacy, a retail site.
“OneCare was the first to commit to the site,” Ellis said. “They’ve moved their day program and administration to the building and been here for almost half a year.”
Programming offered by OneCare at the site include meals and events.
The Health Unit wanted to be close to F.E. Madill Secondary School to make it more accessible for students, according to Ellis, so the site, which is approximately one block away, proved to be an ideal site for them as well.
The North Huron Family Health Team has moved in to the top half of the two-floor, completely rebuilt section of the facility that used to be the gymnasium, Ellis explained. The organization has space for their staff, including nurse practitioners, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and doctors, along with examination rooms for patients. One addition to the structure allowed for the installation of an elevator to access the medical suites.
The site will feature outpatient services, Ellis said, including blood work, which is currently handled in the hospital.
The site is ideal, Ellis said, as it’s close to the hospital, allowing staff to move between the two sites quickly and easily.
While some of the site, like the former gymnasium, would be unrecognizable to former students and staff of Wingham Public School, some of the building still very much resembles the school, including classrooms that have remained largely unchanged but are used as board and meeting rooms. One such room has proven to be an ideal meeting place for the Wingham Hospital Auxiliary group who holds euchre, bridge and crokinole events there.
The facility still has space for more doctors, which Ellis says is important when trying to recruit physicians. It also has space for other healthcare providers, like dentists or massage therapists, if they wish to move in Ellis said.
As far as the name of the facility, Ellis says that three large oak trees located on the southeast property line of the former school are to thank. After some research, it was discovered that they were planted for a royal visit.
“We looked at other names, but Maitland River is already associated with Goderich,” Ellis said. “We also looked at naming it for North Huron, but we go beyond that. We offer services for people outside the community and within it.”
As for the renovation project itself, Ellis said it was completed on budget and mostly on time, though he said some people wanted to be in the site earlier.
Changes included more parking space for the facility, as well as storm water management and extensive rebuilds of the interior of the school.
Doctors are set to move into the facility in approximately a month, Ellis said, though a date has yet to be finalized.