BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
Six years ago, two and a half doctors were serving the entire Red Lake area population. Today there are ten—five full-timers and five part-timers.
“Today is more than a bricks and mortar celebration,” said Dave McLeod, chair of the Community Healthcare Committee, at the official grand opening ceremony of the Goldcorp Red Lake Regional Medical Centre on Aug. 4. “It’s a celebration of where we are today versus where we were six years ago and where we can be in the next six years.” “
The prospect and completion of the state-of-the-art facility, which received its first patient in January 2015, has played a major role in the recruitment and retention of medical professionals.
With a full compliment of staff, services have expanded too.
“As most of you are aware, we have a Family Health Team now and it’s one of the better developed Family Health Teams in northwestern Ontario,” said Dr. Vic Aniol. “We have a full compliment of staff, we have a number of nurses and nurse practitioners on board, and they’re continuing to develop all kinds of programs we would never have thought of seven or eight years ago.”
The six-year process came with its share of challenges, though. It took a lot of commitment from various individuals in the community to get the medical centre off the ground and a plan for sustainable healthcare in place, said McLeod, tipping his hat to Mayor Phil Vinet and the current and former councils and municipal staff.
“This is probably the first town council, to my knowledge, to ever come forward and say, ‘We will take responsibility as a community for making sure change happens.’”
Sustainability, leadership, partnerships, and vision were the guiding principles of council’s Community Healthcare Committee.
For example, the corporate partnership formed with Goldcorp resulted in a $5 million donation to help build the medical centre, and the lease agreement signed between the Municipality and Red Lake Pharmacy outlines the terms by which the pharmacy will rent the former clinic building for a 20-year period.
“All this didn’t come quickly. It came with a lot of hard work from a lot of people,” said Goldcorp Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer George Burns. “We appreciate your dedication and look forward to this fine facility creating a lot of value for the people of Red Lake well into the future.”