McKellar agrees to consider financial contribution to Whitestone nursing station expansion

·2 min read

The Township of McKellar said it will consider contributing to the Whitestone nursing station expansion project once a budget has been finalized.

Following a presentation to council on Dec. 8 from Marcella Sholdice, vice-chair of the West Parry Sound Health Centre Board and Dunchurch resident, Jim Hanna, communications officer for the West Parry Sound Health Centre, and Whitestone councillor Joe McEwen, McKellar council voted in favour of considering financial support.

According to Sholdice, the Municipality of Whitestone is applying for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s COVID-19 Resilience stream for a $100,000 grant to help jump-start the nursing station expansion project.

“We’re still in the early stages of this (project). We’ve agreed there’s a need and we’re looking at what it would actually cost us …” she said.

“We’ve completed a feasibility study for expansion on the site and we’ll be getting a full design and costing from the work being done for the grant proposal.”

The Whitestone and area nursing station was opened in 2006 and in 2018 the station managed 2,846 patients, with the number of patients growing by just over 50 per cent in 2019, according to Sholdice.

“Over the last three years, on average, (14 per cent) of the patients that have sought care at the nursing station have given addresses of residences in McKellar,” she said.

McKellar’s mayor, Peter Hopkins, agreed that he had seen a similar statistic when he had researched how many residents used the nursing station.

“We know McKellar people use it – it’s closer to Whitestone than it is the hospital, depending on the circumstances,” said Hopkins. “We know it’s well used.”

The current building is approximately 1,450 square feet and was built with the original intent of one nurse practitioner, one administrative assistant and one part-time physician, but according to Whitestone Coun. Joe McEwen, the hope is to expand an additional 1,500 square feet.

“We’ll be asking for help from our area municipalities: McKellar, Magnetawan and Whitestone,” said McEwen.

The delegation gave a presentation to the Municipality of Magnetawan on Nov. 25, to which Magnetawan also said it would consider a financial contribution to the Whitestone and area nursing station project.

Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star