Huntsville is one step closer to having a walk-in clinic.
The province is giving $200,000 to the town and the Algonquin Family Health Team (AFHT) for a clinic at the Huntsville Public Library Annex.
Janine van den Heuvel, the health team’s CEO, says the money will cover the cost of renovations, as well as initial staffing.
“The Annex is an empty room, really, so we are going to be constructing two exam rooms like in a physician or nurse practitioner’s office, and a waiting room in the common area,” says Van den Heuvel. “That will be used for COVID-19 testing, but hopefully we’ll be able to use it as a multi-purpose room for community health events or group education and things like that.”
The clinic will be headed up by AFHT’s Dr. Melanie Mar. Van den Heuvel says they’ve already found a nurse practitioner, and are currently hiring for an administrative role.
She adds that the clinic means local residents will not have to rely on the Huntsville Hospital’s emergency department for common illnesses.
“To start, I really think the benefit of this clinic is going to be easing some pressure on the emergency department, taking the patients with cough, cold, and flu symptoms,” says Van den Heuvel. “Down the road, we do hope to transform this clinic into something that’s more comprehensive, and be providing some primary care, hopefully to unattached patients in the community.”
The previous term of town council approved the idea at its final meeting in November, and Van den Heuvel says if all goes well, the clinic should open its doors in February.
“As all sectors in the health care system are under strain, any capacity we can add to the community in any way is, I think, a net bonus,” says Van den Heuvel.