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Niagara Falls
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Editorial: A first step for improving NOTL health care
The Lake Report's weekly editorial. File

Progress and change tends to grind slowly through our universal health care system.

Whether it is the federal government acquiescing to demands and lobbying from the provinces, the construction of new, long-overdue hospitals or, here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the long-awaited opening of a new medical centre, it takes time.

The sparkling new Village Medical Centre, located behind Shoppers Drug Mart, opens to patients on Monday.

It’s a great first step in modernizing – and eventually expanding – the health care services available to NOTL residents.

As everyone knows, despite an influx of new, young families, our population generally skews older and needs access to the doctors, nurses, allied health practitioners and other services that this new centre will provide.

But, again, it is just a start.

While it will have some new services and excellent features for patients, the Village Medical Centre is largely an update over what has been available since five members of the Niagara North Family Health Team moved into the former NOTL hospital in the heart of Old Town.

At an open house Tuesday, it was great to see this group of young physicians – much younger than many of their patients – all so keen and eager to be serving residents from a new state-of-the-art facility.

As some speakers at the event noted, a thank you also is owed to developer John Hawley for his vision and for making the centre a reality. It will be a place many of us will rely on in the years to come.

Looking ahead, NOTL needs this project and a whole lot more health care infrastructure and services.

Another medical centre, led by NOTL developer Lloyd Redekop, is on the books in Virgil near Crossroads Public School, but its promotional sign on the property has said “70 per cent leased” for a few years now. It was approved in 2018.

We need more doctors and access to more health services in town. A walk-in clinic that accepts people who are not patients of the Niagara North Family Health Team is also a necessity. Movements are afoot behind the scenes to bring back that service, which we had prior to COVID.

Credit also goes to Coun. Sandra O’Connor, who has been diligently working to try to improve the health care situation in NOTL. And to MPP Wayne Gates, who on Thursday night will hold a town hall forum to try to gather information about problems and solutions required across Niagara.

These are all key steps toward some day having a better system to serve NOTL’s residents. It can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime, in the coming weeks and months, The Lake Report will be delving in-depth into the problems, the needs and the successes of health care in our community.

Look for a series of stories examining what’s been done, what’s in the works and what more is required to improve health care here.

You, our readers, can help. Let us know about your concerns – but also the victories you have encountered.

We don’t have all of the answers but we’re going to try to find some of them. And your experiences are a key part of that.

Reach out to us at editor@niagaranow.com. We look forward to telling your stories.

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