Muskoka Lakes’ nursing clinic is still not in sight, but it’s now in the hands of the Ministry of Health waiting for approval.
Allen Edwards, a Muskoka Lakes councillor who has been spearheading the nursing clinic, met with the Ministry of Health and said they were friendly, supportive, and he was very pleased.
But they’re not any further ahead than they were in achieving a nursing clinic than they were — yet.
“It might take a little longer than I would like, I’d like it open tomorrow, but I think we are on the right road,” he said.
Currently there are 6,500 permanent residents in Muskoka Lakes and more than 35,000 seasonal residents, with two doctors, one of them close to retirement. To complicate the situation, the senior population is rapidly growing and there is no public transportation to get to distant medical help. This leaves many of its residents without a doctor.
Edwards said volunteers have been working for the clinic for 19 months.
“We have eager people waiting to help and everything else like that,” he said.
A nursing clinic provides front-line health care such as diagnosing and treating common illnesses and injuries, which presently may require a visit to the hospital’s emergency room. It also provides things such as allergy injections, annual health exams, prenatal care, certain prescriptions, and the ability to order lab tests, X-rays and ultrasound tests.
The District of Muskoka developed a task group to look at nurse practitioner services and other arrangements that would improve the medical services in Muskoka. In March it released its report, which supported nursing stations in rural and seasonal parts of Muskoka, as well as a way of addressing the aging population.
The nursing stations have already been successful in communities such as Rosseau and Wahta Mohawk Territory.
The township has secured a temporary location for the nursing station in Port Carling’s library, but before anything can go ahead, it needs approval from the Ministry of Health.
Edwards said he hopes funding comes through for the salaries, but capital costs are up to the municipality to raise. Volunteers have been raising funds for a new building for the nursing station over the past year.
Edwards is optimistic the funds will start rolling in once they have permission from the ministry to go ahead with the clinic.
“I think once we get approval, then we’ll get the funds for it,” he said.
Recently the 14th Annual Muskoka Lakes Mayor’s Golf Classic raised $34,600 toward a building for the nursing clinic. It was one of several fundraising events that have been held for the nursing clinic.
“This is something that’s really getting traction and I think the community’s keen to move forward with that,” said Mayor Alice Murphy.
Muskoka Lakes is also looking at bringing a retirement home and a hospice to the township for the aging population.
“(We’ll) wait and see, but we’re not giving up,” Edwards said.