If all goes according to plan, Chelmsford should have a new family clinic by mid to late 2015.
The City of Lakes Family Health Team, which already operates three clinics in Greater Sudbury – in Val Caron, Walden and Sudbury – plans to open a fourth clinic in the former Rayside-Balfour town hall.
The building, owned by the City of Greater Sudbury, has been vacant since amalgamation in 2001.
City of Lakes Family Health Team was established in 2007 to provide family health-care services across Sudbury.
“The initial application we filed to the Ministry (of Health and Long-Term Care) in 2005 called for the establishment of four clinical sites in the City of Greater Sudbury,” said David Courtemanche, executive director of the City of Lakes Health Team.
To build the new clinic, the health team first needs to recruit enough family physicians to start practices from the site, and gain approval from the Ministry of Health.
Courtemanche said the goal is to hire three or four physicians who would be supported by an interdisciplinary team featuring pharmacists, registered nurses, dieticians and nurse practitioners.
Patients would be assigned to their own physician, but would also have access to the team of health professionals surrounding them.
The City of Lakes team includes 12 physicians at its three existing clinics. They serve around 17,000 patients.
Courtemanche said there is a “critical” need for more family physicians in Chelmsford.
“There is a shortage of family physicians in that part of our community,” he said.
Due to a combination of physician retirements and moves, Courtemanche said Chelmsford and the surrounding area has been short-served for quite some time.
He said the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which was established in 2005, has played a big role in helping City of Lakes fill that need.
The last five physicians the organization recruited were recent graduates from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and Courtemanche said he expects at least some of the new physicians for the Chelmsford site to also come from the school.
For Ministry of Health approval, City of Lakes must submit documents related to the former Rayside-Balfour town hall, and what would be needed to transform it into a clinical space.
The documents would include floor plans, space requirements and building cost estimates.
The City of Greater Sudbury extended a request for proposal, for an architecture firm to conduct the study, to Wednesday, Aug. 27.