Long-awaited medical transition underway

Physicians and support staff at the Port Dover Medical Centre are planning to relocate now that Roulston's Discount Drugs is building a 4,400-square-foot medical clinic at its store on Main Street. Steve Willaert, owner and manager of Willaert’s Pharmacy at the health centre, will re-open Willaert’s Pharmacy this fall at the No Frills plaza in the north end of Port Dover. Monte Sonnenberg/Delhi News Record

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The transition of doctors at the Port Dover Medical Centre to a new clinic is underway nearly 10 years after it was first proposed.

Three doctors at the clinic — Alison Malo, Rejean Duwyn, and Wahid Pabani – intend to relocate this fall to a 4,400-square-foot medical centre that is being constructed at the rear of the Roulstons Discount Drugs on Main Street in Port Dover.

A fourth doctor – Kailey Buller – recently went on maternity leave and her future in Port Dover is uncertain, said Mark Stephens of Roulston’s.

“Our goal is this fall – as early as late October,” Stephen’s said. “That’s our goal and everything is full steam ahead to accommodate that.”

Also vacating the St. George location is pharmacist Steve Willaert. He will re-open at the No-Frills plaza in the north end of Port Dover this fall as Willaert’s Pharmacy.

The physicians at the Port Dover Medical Centre recently posted a notice advising visitors and patients that the medical centre will no longer serve as a walk-in clinic for people seeking immediate medical attention.

Willaert said the change has something to do with the physician complement at the medical centre falling to three from four. Willaert said the clinic with its current line-up does not meet the provincial threshold for delivering this level of care.

“You have to have four physicians to have a walk-in clinic,” Willaert said. “One is leaving because she is pregnant. Unless they get another doctor they can’t accept walk-in patients. That’s how it was explained to me.”

While Roulston’s is aiming to have the physicians situated in their new lodgings by fall, Stephens allowed there could be complications along the way.

He said the water and sewer infrastructure along this section of Main Street may not be consistent with Roulston’s expectations heading into construction. A dialogue with the county’s public works department is underway.

“We continue to work hand-in-hand with Norfolk County.”

Dr. Harold Hynscht used to have an office at the St. George clinic but moved to a new office adjoining the Roulstons building several years ago. On July 29, Hynscht said his Dover Shores Family Practice is a standalone operation not associated with the new medical clinic.

About 10 years ago, Norfolk County bought the St. George Street clinic from the doctors who owned it to facilitate their transition to a community-based, community-managed medical centre elsewhere.

For a variety of reasons, the project never launched and Norfolk has held the deed ever since. Along the way, there have been tens of thousands of dollars of associated renovation and maintenance costs.

Once the St. George clinic is empty, the county could affirm its status as a surplus property and look for a new owner. Or the county could find a new tenant for it or find a municipal use for the building, which is located next door to the Lions Community Centre and the Port Dover and Area Arena.