December 10, 2023

Doctors in western P.E.I. hope a new community health centre will not only improve patient care in the area but also help recruit and retain health-care workers.

The $7.6 million Alberton Community Health Centre, located at 397 Church St., officially opened on Tuesday. It includes a patient medical home with three physicians and one nurse practitioner, with the hiring of two more expected.

One of the physicians, Dr. Pamela Hudson, said many of the health-care workers were involved in the planning of the building and excited to see it open. She expects it will also alleviate some pressure on Western Hospital.

“I think it will allow our teams to work together because we’re all housed in one location, so our family physicians can work together with the mental health workers or addictions workers,” she said.

“We’ll work together with acute care but the opening of the health centre won’t affect the in-patient care and the emergency department at Western.”

Alberton Community Health Centre.
The new community health centre, located at 397 Church St., provides nearly 20,000 square feet of specially designed space to allow for the multiple health-care teams to work closely together (Laura Meader/CBC)

The centre provides space for:

  • Six offices for nurse practitioners and physicians.
  • Two mental health and addictions exam/consultation rooms.
  • Nine mental health and addiction consultation offices.
  • Thirteen medical exam rooms.
  • Two nursing exam room/offices.
  • Four allied health offices.
  • A Telehealth room.
  • A public health exam room/office.
  • A minor-procedure room.
  • Four program delivery and education meeting rooms.

Health P.E.I. said the new 20,000-square-foot facility won’t mean cuts to Western Hospital, which often has to close its emergency room because of a lack of staff. 

We were concerned about us losing the hospital, closures and whatnot, but I was assured… that’s not going to be the case. This health centre is going to supplement the hospital.— Alberton Mayor Brian Poirier

That was good news for Alberton Mayor Brian Poirier.

“We were concerned about us losing the hospital, closures and whatnot, but I was assured… that’s not going to be the case. This health centre is going to supplement the hospital.” 

There is still a shortage of health-care workers at the hospital and the health centre.

Smiling man with mustache in a business suit and tie, standing in a hallway.
Alberton Mayor Brian Poirier was among those on hand for the official opening of the new community health centre on Tuesday. (Laura Meader/CBC)

But Corinne Rowswell, the chief operating officer for Health P.E.I., said a brand-new facility will help keep the staff they have and recruit new people. 

“Whenever you have modern spaces and modern technology, it’s an attraction,” she said. “People do want, when they are preparing to move to a small community, [to know] that they have the tools at their disposal. And the staff working together — I think it makes a big difference.” 

Dr. Hudson said she hopes the centre will ease concerns for people worried about care in the region.

“I think that I could empathize with what everyone’s experiencing,” she said. 

“Health-care workers, I think, love what they do and work hard to provide care for patients. And we’re just hoping that we can build our teams to keep providing care for our patients and to keep working with recruitment and retention to bring more people to the province in order to provide care for our patients.”

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