Health officials are celebrating the return of a community health clinic to Brooklands and Weston, but some area residents say more services are still needed.
On Sept. 18, Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald, flanked by board members, doctors and support staff, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of NorWest at Bluebird on the main floor of Bluebird Lodge Seniors Home at 100-97 Keewatin St.
"This has been a dream of folks in this community for a very long time," Oswald said to a standing room only crowd.
The area has been without a health clinic since the Westbrook Medical Centre, which was located on Logan Avenue near Keewatin, closed in late 2009.
Bluebird will operate on an appointment-only basis and offer family medical care including diagnosis, treatment, consultations, lifestyle counselling and sex education.
Clients will have access to 15 on-site providers, including a clinical pharmacist, a mental health worker, a corrective exercise specialist and social workers.
Bluebird is one of 20 clinics under construction or in the planning stages to ensure all Manitobans have access to a family doctor by 2015, Oswald said.
More primary and home care leads to healthier living, which helps reduce the strain on emergency rooms, she said.
"It isn’t rocket science," Oswald said.
"If you have access to a family doctor, you’re going to be healthier."
Shaughnessy Park resident Dorothy Reimer, a former client of the Westbrook clinic, welcomed news of the new clinic’s opening, but said she’ll still have to travel downtown for blood work and X-rays.
"It’s too bad," she said, noting, at its peak, Westbrook had eight doctors and a wider range of services.
"From what we had, it’s just a fraction. But at least it’s something."
Reimer’s husband, Cornie, added he is concerned about access to the rotating schedule of doctors and wait times for elderly care.
The clinic has taken on 70 new clients since quietly opening in July and the clinic is expected to welcome 300 new clients over the winter months, said Renata Cook, a primary care co-ordinator for NorWest.
In a speech, NorWest board chair Ivan Sabesky noted the board is open to suggestions that will help the clinic evolve.
"I implore you to come express any needs to the board for other services we should be offering," he said.
The clinic is already looking at expanding its hours to evenings and weekends in 2013, Cook added.
Bluebird will be a satellite site of ACCESS NorWest, a health facility scheduled to open at the corner of Keewatin and Burrows Avenue next summer.