McMaster University and the City of St. Catharines today announced a partnership to establish the McMaster Niagara Family Health Centre.
The centre, which will be located at 18-24 Ontario Street, St. Catharines will be a clinical teaching unit to educate future doctors and will help address the needs Niagara residents who do not have a family physician.
"This is a win-win-win situation for the medical school, the community and the patients needing a family physician," said Dr. David Price, chair of the Department of Family Medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
"The Niagara region has first class medical staff and has been very welcoming of the Niagara campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. We’re very pleased to work with the city to help provide excellent medical care for citizens. This care will be provided by an interprofessional team including nurses, family physicians and residents, mental health workers and others.
"I expect the residents may very well be enticed to subsequently practice in the community."
The agreement to establish the McMaster Niagara Family Health Centre is signed by Mark Sherk, chair of the centre's board of governors; David Price, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University and Brian McMullan, mayor of St. Catharines.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care the St. Catharines is experiencing a shortage of 20 family physicians.
Renovations of the city-owned space, currently the Community Physicians Clinic, will begin this summer. The medical school and community are currently recruiting four physicians who will oversee eight family medicine residents as well as clinical clerks who are medical students.
"The City of St. Catharines is pleased it was able to work collaboratively with McMaster University to establish the centre," said Mayor Brian McMullan. "This announcement is critical to providing access to family physicians for our current residents, but also in ensuring the provision of primary health care for future residents and employers."
The McMaster Niagara Family Health Centre will welcome the first residents on July 1, 2009. It is expected the centre will have a patient roster of more than 6,000 patients.
Businessman Mark Sherk, chair of the new McMaster-Niagara Family Health Centre board of governors, has organized community support for the clinic, including raising the necessary funds required for renovations.
"The St. Catharines community has been an enthusiastic supporter of the new Centre as well as the St. Catharines Family Physicians Clinic before it," says Mr. Sherk. "In fact the equipment and facilities funded through the donations to the previous clinic – specifically those made by Herzog Foundation, 1984 Olympic Mens 8 Rowing Crew and the Hultink and Maltese families will continue to be used in the new centre."