A milestone for North Island communities is up and running with the North Island Community Health Centre opening last week at Thunderbird Mall in Port Hardy.
The non-profit centre officially opened on Oct. 11 and Dr. Alex Nataros – one of the doctors behind the centre – says construction began in the spring with the first patients coming on Aug. 8.
Since then, they have seen over 3,000 patients and Nataros says it is an extraordinary achievement.
“It’s thrilling, we’ve had tremendous community support since we started the ball rolling last spring,” said Nataros. “The community has really come together and great support from the District of Port Hardy and Thunderbird Mall.”
Nataros adds that they have three full-time family doctors along with an addictions doctor and an internal medicines specialist. That service is combined with allied health providers such chiropractors and registered massage therapists.
Nataros says the centre came about after colleague Dr. Howie Lee approached him with the idea. He says it stemmed from challenges they were facing as doctors on the North Island and difficulties in Island Health.
“This is an independent health centre. It’s a non-profit society with a volunteer board of directors from the community,” said Nataros. “We’re not the only community health centre, this is an effective model of healthcare delivery and there’s a number of community health centres across the province.”
He adds it is the first of its kind on the North Island and their goal is to bring a neighbourhood feel to local healthcare and a sense that others are supporting one another.
“One of the really exciting new things in this delivery of healthcare is the main room of our centre is a large common area room, a carpeted, warm, safe, grounding space that we use for group medical visits,” said Nataros.
“For example, this Thursday we’ve got Dr. Jenna Creaser who is a medical doctor as well as a trained yoga therapist and hypnotherapist that’s doing a group medical visit around trauma and anxiety.”
Nataros adds that he expects more patients will come over the next few months as they can serve many people north of Sayward.
“It’s really all hands-on deck. We’re in a healthcare crisis across Canada and we need innovative solutions to this healthcare crisis,” said Nataros.