Limoges, Ont., had an enviable problem: The town, about 40 kilometres east of Ottawa, saw its population nearly quadruple since 2008, from 1,250 to 4,500, a number that's expected to grow to 6,000 within six years.
But for residents seeking doctors, dentists and other health care providers, that boom turned out to be a bust, forcing them to travel to Ottawa and beyond for essential services.
Now those services are available at home, and all under one roof.
The Limoges Health Hub, a three-storey, 15,000-square-foot complex built mostly with provincial funding, opened last week to meet the demand for local health services, including an after-hours medical clinic.
Sense of pride
The volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make it happen couldn't be happier.
'To know they have access to all these services under one roof, it's just like one-stop shopping.' - Shirley Racine, Limoges Health Hub Volunteer Community
"I have a great sense of pride and accomplishment," said Shirley Racine, president of the Limoges Health Hub Volunteer Community. "To know they have access to all these services under one roof, it's just like one-stop shopping."
Racine, a cancer survivor, said she wanted to give back to the health care system that helped her when she was in crisis. She said she was moved by stories of residents, particularly frail, elderly ones, languishing in hospital emergency wards in Ottawa because they couldn't access health care at home.
The complex, which officially opened Friday, includes a dentist who already has a roster of 400 patients, a pharmacy and a clinic with four family doctors. By 2018 there will be eight doctors, Racine said.
Residents will also have access to mental health services, physiotherapy, a registered dietician and foot care.
Patients from Ottawa
In an ironic twist, Racine said doctors practising at the health hub have already accepted patients from Ottawa who couldn't find physicians in the capital.
The hub offers all its services in both official languages. That's important in a community where 75 per cent of residents list their mother tongue as French, said Racine, whose mother, a francophone, ran into trouble finding health services in her first language.
It's anticipated the Limoges Health Hub will create 70 local jobs by the time it's fully operational in 2018.
"When you have a dream you just need to go for it and you have to really have believe in it," Racine said. "I said when I retire I'm going to give back, and that's exactly what I did."