Province commits to funding New Waterford health centre

Province commits to funding New Waterford health centre

The province has committed to funding a long-awaited community health centre in New Waterford, N.S., that will house a collaborative-care team, as well as other health-care and community services.

More than just a medical clinic, the centre will also address a wide range of community issues that contribute to disease, said Sister Margie Gillis, chair of the New Waterford and District Community Centre Health Board.

She has been one of the champions of the idea over the past 20 years.

"We have a community here that has very high addiction rates. And we know that's a huge issue with our young people," Gillis said.

New Waterford also has high rates of mental illness and poverty, as well as a large elderly population.

"You need a kind of a system or a platform whereby you can begin to start working at these community issues. And so a community health centre provides us with that platform," said Gillis.

Services that will move into the new centre include the New Waterford food bank and RELAYS, a program for at-risk youth.

A model for the province

Premier Stephen McNeil, who was in the community Wednesday to make the announcement, said collaborative care is the model for the province.

"New Waterford has been working on it long before anybody else. And today's a recognition of that. And we will be fully committed and supportive of delivering the facility that works for this community," he said.

Physicians and nurse practitioners currently work within a collaborative network, though not necessarily under one roof, said Lindsay Peach, vice-president of integrated health services for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

"This would really be an opportunity for them to come together in that one location as a team," she said.

Construction in 2018

A site selection team will look at options to renovate an existing space or build a new one.

McNeil would not guess at the total cost of the project, pending the bidding process.

"We have budgeted for the design and site work. Once that is in, we'll be putting an RFP out for the entire build," he said.

Construction is expected to start in 2018.