Medical Centre will fill void in Waterloo area

August 10, 2012   

WATERLOO — A large medical centre is being built at The Boardwalk in Waterloo, its aim to draw 25 family doctors along with other health care professionals and services.

“It’s access to health care and a tool to attract physicians to our community,” said Jeff MacIntyre, past chair of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. “It’s incredibly exciting.”

An estimated 20,000 people in Kitchener-Waterloo area are without a family doctor. Physician recruitment has long been a goal of the chamber, which has a position dedicated to attracting new doctors to the area.

“It’s going to be transformational for the Kitchener-Waterloo health care scene and ultimately for businesses and patients,” MacIntyre said.

The complex will offer a range of health services that includes doctors, specialists, a pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, including X-ray and ultrasound, and a laboratory.

The four-storey centre is slated to open January 2014.

“It’s a big space to fill, but we’re quite encouraged by the response,” MacIntyre said.

Already they’ve been meeting with doctors who are interested in leasing space, as well as pharmacists and physiotherapists. People are calling about jobs in the building and signing up to be patients.

“People are ahead of us because we don’t even have our paperwork ready yet,” Cynthia Voisin, who is with The Boardwalk development partner Voisin Developments and promoter of the medical centre.

The sprawling shopping area alongside Ira Needles Boulevard had a zoning requirement to include an office building. With the shortage of family doctors in the area and the rapidly expanding neighbourhood around The Boardwalk, the developers saw a need and opportunity for building more than just another business space.

“We wanted to provide something unique,” Voisin, said.

Parking will be free and the Medical Centre is accessible on public transit routes.

Although the Waterloo Region is growing and has lots to offer, MacIntyre said it is challenging to entice people to move here because of the doctor shortage that can leave newcomers without primary care for years.

Newly graduated doctors are also looking for a group atmosphere, rather than traditional single-physician practices.

“They really want to practise in a more collegial environment,” MacIntyre said.

While the building offers those individual offices, a space for multiple doctors is also available.

Ultimately, he said, the discussions possible in a multi-doctor setting provide better care to patients, as well as the possibility of larger patient rosters to provide more people with care.

It’s hoped more experience physicians will also move into the building with the new doctors to nurture mentorships.

“This is about creating a better health care model,” MacIntyre said.

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