“It can’t do anything other than help,” said Lisette Bergeron. “We didn’t have any health services here, we always had to go somewhere else.”
Bergeron, a long-time resident of Limoges, was one of about 300 people gathered last Friday at the town’s new health hub to celebrate its official opening.
“In the beginning, I didn’t think it was possible,” said Bergeron. She adds that much of the project’s success is owed to her neighbour across the road, Shirley Racine.
Racine is the health hub volunteer committee’s president, an instrumental factor in bringing the project to life.
Racine was also the emcee during Friday’s celebration, which hosted various provincial politicians.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Racine. “I am very pleased to see this dream become a reality.”
John Fraser, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, said government is at its best, “when we’re giving life to the things that communities want.” And added, “You’ve really come together as a community and made sure that you’re able to take care of each other, provide services that are critical to all of your community, so you should all be congratulated for that.”
The hub offers a one-stop shop for a slew of medical needs; from dentists and family doctors to diabetes experts, speech language therapy and foot care.
The health hub committee has been running a fundraising campaign to help furnish the Centre de Santé de l’Estrie on the second floor. Volunteers raised about $170,000 through various community donations. Last year, the provincial government also announced $425,000 in yearly funding.
The building cost about $5.5 million and is owned by Saint Joseph Developments, the same company that will be building the sports dome in Limoges.
Nine family doctors will be setting up their practice in the hub, the majority will be working out of the Nation Health Centre on the third floor. The Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie will also have a doctor and nurse practitioner, which are currently accepting patients.
Patients at ease
Jacynthe Picard will be setting up her practice at the hub in November. Originally from Casselman, the decision to come back in the region, she says, was easy.
“It’s easier to understand patients when we know what they’re going through or where they’re from,” she said. “So many people supported me during my studies, it’s nice to be able to return the favour in some way.”
Picard also mentioned the ability offer services in both French and English as an important factor for residents.
“When we talk about health, about sickness, patients are often in a vulnerable situation,” she said. Not being able to properly explain symptoms can add an extra hurdle to offering care.
“Not having that as a worry, I think it creates a better relationship with patients and better care in return.”