February 12 2014: Medical Centre a Step in the Right Direction
February 12, 2014
Workers continue to make final touches both inside and out at The Medical Centre at the Boardwalk, but that won’t quell the ambition of one of the region’s newest family doctors.
“It’s really exciting,” said Dr. Katerina Reizgys, 28, who studied medicine at McMaster University and was recruited by the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. “It’s such a great building. It’s probably better than I expected.”
Reizgys will be working with Dr. John Sehl, who has more than 20 years of experience practicing family medicine in the region, as well as her fellow McMaster grad and residency partner, Dr. Jessica Seibel.
The four-storey, 80,000-square-foot, $20-million facility opened last Monday and will house about 27 family doctors, as well as integrated medical experts such as an independent pharmacy, laboratory, medical imaging specialists and other medical clinics.
Located at the north end of The Boardwalk’s 36-hectare commercial complex that straddles the boundary between Kitchener and Waterloo, at 101 Ira Needles Blvd, the building has been designed as a one-stop shop for patients who will no longer have to drive across town to see their doctor and then drive to the other end of town for an X-ray.
It has taken about 18 months to finish the project after ground was broken in July 2012.
It’s estimated about 20,000 people in the region are waiting for a family doctor, and the early numbers suggest the medical centre will help fill some of that demand. About 4,300 people are already on the waiting list at the new facility.
“That list is growing, and we’re tackling it as aggressively as we can,” said Cynthia Voisin, manager of brand strategy and development at The Boardwalk.
Ian McLean, president and CEO of the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, said while the development will go a long way in easing the doctor shortage, there is still a lot of work to be done to get on top on the problem.
One of the issues is the number of retiring doctors and the so-called “orphan” patients that are created when they lose their family doctor. This medical centre has already accepted several thousand orphaned patients, Sehl said.
“The [shortage] is still at 20,000 but it could have been worse,” said Sehl.
“We’re making progress,” McLean added. “We’re still short, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Thanks in part to the chamber’s doctor recruitment weekends, which bring med school grads to the region and highlight what Waterloo has to offer in an attempt to sway them to set up their practices here, McLean said the doctor shortage could be brought under control as early as 2017 or 2018.
Even then, however, recruitment efforts will continue. “If we ever stop, we’ll just get buried by the wave again,” McLean said.
Attracting more doctors to the region is not only a health imperative, but an economic one as well.
When prospective businesses come to the region to inquire about setting up an operation, one of the first questions is how difficult it is to get a family doctor, the chamber president said.
The large windows, bright offices, open and collaborative work spaces, electronic filing systems and the state-of-the-art technology found at the new medical centre should go a long way in attracting more doctors to the area as well.
“To have so many family doctors in one space, we can collaborate and have information sessions together. You couldn’t have that in a smaller office,” said Reizgys.
To add your name to the waiting list for a family doctor, visit www.the-boardwalk.ca/medical-centre/