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Hospital foundation pledges to help with clinic

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Hospital foundation pledges to help with clinic

ARRAN-ELDERSLIE: Councillors get look at Chesley clinic plans

Posted By MARY GOLEM , SUN TIMES CORRESPONDENT

Plans to double the size of the 2,983-square-foot Chesley Medical

Clinic received a boost Monday when representatives of the Chesley Hospital Foundation announced they are pledging $400,000 toward the estimated $1.6 million project.

Foundation president Judy Posthumus announced the pledge at a meeting of Arran- Elderslie council after council and members of the medical clinic's building and fundraising committees were presented with architectural drawings and cost estimates for the expansion project.

Posthumus said Chesley and area residents "have always been very generous in their support of health care in our community," through bequests, fundraising efforts and memorial donations, saying foundation members "believe it is in the best interests of our hospital and our community to support the clinic."

Building committee chairman Chuck Beamer told council that coming up with plans to expand the existing clinic and provide accommodation for the family health team professionals who will use in the building in the future "was a challenge" because of the limited space available.

He praised architect Terry Marklevitz of Stratford, a Chesley native, for his "commendable job of translating the wishes of staff into a functional drawing incorporating those basic needs."

Those drawings show an expansion of the 2,983 square foot building into a proposed 5,478 square foot building, with a basement under the expanded portion. The current building does not have a basement.

Marklevitz said there will be 20 examination rooms, up from 10 now, and more waiting room and office space. Records storage will be moved to the basement.

Marklevitz said the new portion of the clinic would be built and occupied before renovation work on the existing portion, which was totally rebuilt in 1998, would begin, thus causing the least disruption to services.

The clinic would be big enough to accommodate the town's six doctors and an additional six full-time equivalent health care professionals who are part of the Brockton and Area Family Health Team.

The estimated cost of the project, including the basement and an elevator, is $1,600,729.23. More than $640,000 of the total is for the basement and elevator.

Councillors Paul Eagleson, Ross Herron and Mark Davis stressed they support the project but asked where the rest of the money needed for the work will come from and questioned the need for a basement and elevator.

"It's a lot of money for something we may or may not ever use," Eagleson said. "And add to that cost another $128,000 because of the HST this summer."

Herron, chairman of council's finance committee, said although the municipality "has had money in reserves to draw from in the past, that isn't the case this year. We'll be using everything we have for the Big Dig (reconstruction of Main St.) in Chesley and if this project is $600,000 short, we'll need to do that with borrowed money. We have to give that serious thought."

Eagleson agreed. "Paisley built a clinic using no taxpayer money and Tara water users are paying $3,200 each to have water. How can we ask ratepayers outside of Chesley to come up with $600,000 for a clinic in Chesley when Chesley has not had to support their projects? I support the project 100%, but we need to take a serious look at the math involved."

Both Davis and Herron said that before council needs to see actual costs before it can give a final recommendation for the project.

Davis suggested proceeding without a basement "may be the way to go," saying "if it really isn't needed, why strap future generations with debt?"

Others argued against that. Dr. Ian Thompson, one of the community's six physicians, said space for records storage would have to be found upstairs.

Clarke Birchard, co-chairman of the clinic's fundraising committee, told council the committee has raised $264,500 "without an exciting, progressive project like we've seen today to present." Birchard said he's convinced once the public sees the plans, excitement will increase and donations will follow. He predicted fundraising efforts, including a business canvass, will bring in at least another $500,000.

"That's a modest goal and I'm confident we can reach it," he said.

Birchard pointed out an expanded, modern clinic "will not only improve working conditions for the current staff and expanded space for the Family Health Team, it is an important tool in physician recruitment efforts. For that, and a whole lot of other reasons, including the fact our doctors have waited five years for improved facilities, we have to go forward."

"I know it's a lot of money, but I think we can do it," Mayor Ron Oswald said. "We are really fortunate in Chesley to have a 15-bed hospital and six doctors. Communities around us have raised money and built clinics and we can too."

A meeting is planned for Tuesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. at the Chesley Community Centre to present the plans to the public.

Article ID# 2440921

 

 

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