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Monday, May 20, 2024
Editorial: A step forward for NOTL health care

You’re new in Niagara-on-the-Lake and don’t have a family doctor in town.

Or you’ve lived here forever and maybe your doctor has retired or moved.

Or you’ve never needed one. Or perhaps your doc practises elsewhere in Niagara. Or in the Greater Toronto Area.

Or you’re a visitor and you fall ill, develop a fever or flu and cold symptoms.

Or you run out of an essential medication.

After all, who hasn’t wakened up feeling lousy and under the weather and in need of medical attention?

These are just a few of the many possible scenarios for which the addition of another nurse practitioner in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a godsend.

And starting Monday, April 22, at the Village Medical Centre (behind Shoppers Drug Mart on Niagara Stone Road), you will be able to see nurse practitioner Amy Bolduc for morning appointments or at a walk-in clinic in the afternoon.

The NOTL Health Care Clinic adds a much-needed dimension to life in NOTL.

It is great news for a great many people.

If you are rostered with the Niagara North Family Health Team and see one of its doctors regularly, you already are fortunate (and are not allowed to utilize the new clinic).

That’s because you already also have access to the health team’s after-hours clinic and nurse practitioner, a privilege that non-rostered patients do not enjoy.

For years now, that has been an unfortunate reality in NOTL. If you’re not with the health team, you have nowhere to go.

It’s neither perfect nor fair but that’s the way “the system” works as it is presently constituted in NOTL and across Ontario.

And for years now, many leaders in NOTL have been trying to change the situation here in town.

Because when your child or grandchild or spouse comes down with something, dragging them to an out-of-town walk-in clinic or the emergency department can be a real crapshoot.

Sometimes you can be in and out in no time — sometimes it can take what seems like an eternity.

A lot of people have been involved in bringing this new nurse practitioner to town, but one person stands out for her persistence and tenacity.

Coun. Sandra O’Connor deserves our heartfelt thanks for the leadership she displayed in making this a reality. Without all her hard work, we probably would still be waiting for it to happen.

We take health care for granted in this country — until we really need it. And then we’re able to see how lucky we are. It’s not perfect, but few things in this world are.

So, looking ahead, here is some of the essential information you need regarding the NOTL Health Care Clinic:

It opens April 22 and will operate 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

It is inside the Village Medical Centre at 101 Garrison Village Dr. The clinic can be reached by calling (289) 272-0441.

Bolduc will have pre-booked morning appointments and a walk-in service in the afternoon.

As it makes clear on its website, the new service will only see patients who don’t have a family doctor — plus visitors.

A nurse practitioner can diagnose ailments, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe all medications and perform medical procedures. Here in NOTL they will be providing ongoing chronic, preventive and urgent care.

But remember: If you are rostered with the family health team in town, you cannot visit the NOTL Health Care Clinic.

Meanwhile, there are no plans for now to be open Saturdays for walk-ins. That’s a problem in a town that literally welcomes millions of visitors each year, mainly on weekends.

But Monday to Friday is a start.

Let’s build on that.

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