Jocelyn McGuire is dreading the day her primary care clinic closes and relocates outside of her community.

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Jocelyn McGuire is dreading the day her primary care clinic closes and relocates outside of her community.

The 70-year-old from Fort Rouge lives with osteoporosis, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and receives care from the nurse practitioners and physicians at the Corydon Primary Care Clinic (1001 Corydon Ave.).

In July, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced the primary care clinic will be closing as part of the health authority’s effort to cut costs, and all the clinic’s services will be relocated to Access Fort Garry, near Pembina Highway and Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

"I’ve never had a problem," McGuire said of her years of care at the Corydon clinic. "The problem is that they’re moving and it’s going to be right out of my reach."

McGuire fears that when the clinic is closed she’ll be one of many seniors with a multitude of health needs stranded without a doctor nearby.

"I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m really hoping that I can get enough action happening in the neighbourhood amongst all the people who use this clinic to raise some pressure to leave it alone," she said.

According to the WRHA, the general mandate of the Corydon clinic is to serve people with complex medical and social needs who would also benefit from treatment by an interprofessional team. Often the clinic’s clients are also interacting with other parts of the health care system, including mental health services and home care, and are being treated for chronic disease. The clinic also offers specialized diabetes care.

Making the trek from her home in Fort Rouge down to Plaza Drive will be a struggle, with the costs of taxis prohibitive and Handi-Transit inconvenient, McGuire said.

McGuire said she is torn as to whether she will follow her physician when the clinic moves in the New Year.

"Pembina Highway scares the hell out of me. I don’t like to drive fast — I’m one of those 40-kilometre-an-hour old ladies who drives in the right lane all the time," McGuire said. "To have to drag my daughter out to take me to appointments would be very hard on her.

"I think I might just stay home and die," she said.

Dana Rudy, the WRHA’s interim chief operating officer for south Winnipeg and community area director of Fort Garry-River Heights, said patients of the clinic will be informed by letter of the scheduled Jan. 12, 2018 move date.

Access Fort Garry officially opened in June 2016 and according to Rudy has the space to accommodate the 4,500 patients from Corydon with extended evening and weekend hours. Staff at the clinic will also be helping current clients find health care options closer to home if they choose not to move to Access Fort Garry, Rudy said.

"Sometimes people are concerned about the location of Access Fort Garry because it’s far away from Corydon," Rudy said. "So we’re definitely open to supporting people in getting primary care that’s closer to their home, whether it’s in River Heights or they live in Transcona."

"We don’t want to create a lot of disruption and we want people to feel like they’re welcome," she said. "It is a challenging move for a lot of people."

River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard said the closure of the Corydon clinic is a "double whammy" for the area following the closure of the urgent care centre at Misericordia Hospital.

"To lose one is tragic, to lose both, it really remakes healthcare in a way that access is considerably more difficult," Gerrard said.

The WRHA says the annual gross rent it pays for the space at 1001 Corydon Ave. is $328,338 and the total savings in this fiscal year and the next will be finalized after a sublease is negotiated. The current lease ends June 30, 2022.

Gerrard said any savings the WRHA may net from moving the clinic out of 1001 Corydon Ave. will create additional costs at other facilities.

"When you make access more difficult, the problem is we’re likely to have more people going to more expensive facilities like the emergency room at the Health Sciences Centre," Gerrard said.

"It was really important for the community, it was important to have easy access for people and it was providing vital service in terms of helping people with diabetes. I think it’s a terrible shame that the government is doing this."

Fort Rouge MLA and leader of the official opposition, Wab Kinew said he still has questions about the purported savings moving the Corydon clinic will generate and suggested investing in primary care close to home instead.

"I worry that having to go six kilometres or take the extra bus or cab ride to go to another centre further away may discourage people from getting the care that they need," he said.

"We will have to pay more in the long run if somebody in the area is discouraged from getting medical attention and they end up having to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized later on."
Twitter: @SouwesterWPG

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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