May 17, 2022

The East Ferris Medical Centre is getting a financial boost of $1.3 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).  The municipality broke ground on the project last September, and the building is very close to completion, with plans to open this April. These funds will help to operate the centre and offset some of the $3 million construction costs that the municipality invested into the project.

Nipissing’s MPP Vic Fedeli announced this funding this morning at the centre. He mentioned how supporting projects like the centre “helps the community by maintaining and enhancing health services.”

East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort agreed. “Improving health services right here in our community is a priority for East Ferris,” she said. “This funding will significantly reduce the financial impact that the project would otherwise have on our taxpayers and the municipality.”

Much of East Ferris’ council attended, as did two members of the NOHFC board, namely Peter Chirico and Laurie Marcil, who mentioned “it’s projects like this that really get my blood flowing, because they enhance the quality of life in our Northern communities.”  

Marcil noted that the amount of collaboration and hard work that went into making the medical centre a reality “is very heartwarming and really great to see.” She commended council, who have been planning the project for years. “It shows that Northern spirit.”

See: East Ferris breaks ground on new medical centre

The new building is where Dr. John Seguin will soon hang his shingle when the doors open in April. Currently, he’s running a home office called Doc on the Lake Clinic—and has been for the past 16 years—just down the road from 649 Astorville Road, where the new centre is located.

“I’ve been lucky,” to work at home he said, although “the downside is it’s a small office, and the population is getting bigger, and I have no room to have another doctor in there.”

“If I retire, or something happens to me, the community has nothing,” by way of health services, and the new centre has changed that. “And I think that’s why I’ve been pushing the council to get its own clinic to help the community.”

Dr. Sequin has been encouraging council “for years” on the project, and mentioned the clinic would have a Field of Dreams effect upon the municipality—“as soon as you build it, we’ll get another doc,” he would tell council.

And that’s what has occurred. A new doctor—Dr. Kevin Blake—is setting up shop at the new centre as well. “We’re so lucky to have Dr. Blake,” Dr. Seguin said, “and I expect as the community grows, and the way the clinic is designed, we’ll be able to get a third doc in a year or two if needed.”

“And again, that’s all for the community,” he said. “As someone who lives in the community, it’s also important for me.” Now that the vision is complete, “it’s everything and more” than he had hoped for during all those years of planning.

The building is 5,335 square feet. It’s all on one level, with lots of south facing windows. From inside, you get some nice views of the lake past Astorville road. Walking in, you enter a waiting room—“my office could probably fit inside this waiting room,” Dr. Seguin noted—and there’s a medium size office with a large shelf for administration opposite the front door.

To the left is a large room that will house a pharmacy and facing right you’ll see a hallway leading to a few office spaces. Behind that administrative welcome desk is another long hall spanning the length of the building, offering even more rooms.

“There are 36 rooms”, explained Dan Degagne, of Degagne & Lefebvre Building Group, which built the centre. He mentioned that “he looks forward to having people come in, and that it has been a pleasure for Degagne & Lefebvre Building Group to work hand in hand with the township of East Ferris.”

“We’re very proud of the building,” he said, “and very happy the township is happy with the end result.”

Degagne also mentioned an interesting fact about the heating within the building. The entire 5,000 plus square foot space was being heated by one electric heater installed over the front door. There are plans to install more within the space, but that one heater is enough to warm the building, a testament to the building’s insulation, designed to be as energy efficient as possible.

“We worked with the architect to seal the building very well,” Degagne said, “we used vapour cavities, spray foam, exterior foam, and a lot of blown in insulation in the ceiling” to achieve these warm effects.

The medical centre will serve the community “which is becoming very diverse in terms of health needs,” said East Ferris councillor, Erika Lougheed. The new clinic will play “an important part” in residents’ healthcare, but she is mindful of the need to “also address the root causes of health and equity in the first place and ensure that people are healthy and well and that the social determinants of health are addressed.”

“Things like income, housing, and education are all examples of social determinants of health that need to be addressed,” Lougheed clarified, emphasizing the importance to look at health issues within the context of these other factors.

“This is a win-win situation for everybody,” deputy mayor Steven Trahan said of the new clinic. Trahan has been involved for years to get the project off the ground, noting “it’s been a long time coming.”

He mentioned that this centre was one of his campaign promises during the 2018 election, and seeing it materialize marked “a great day for everybody.”

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