They seldom wait long for a locally born New Year’s baby to arrive in Notre Dame de Lourdes.
That’s because women around here don’t have to travel long distances to give birth. The community’s long-serving doctors have, unlike physicians in many other locales, remained committed to offering obstetrics at the small village hospital.
Women can’t get epidurals or Csections here, but the rural hospital provides a sort of service “niche” for women in low-risk pregnancies who don’t want or need interventions.
As 2011 unfolds, area residents look forward to seeing a new hospital built here, which, will include a birthing centre as well as provide emergency, diagnostic, outpatient and acute-care services.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced the new 10-bed $19-million hospital for the community last month.
“This has been in the works for many, many years,” says Rene Compte, who has headed up a local hospital construction committee that’s been lobbying the province for about 25 years.
The community has been planning the renewal of its health-care infrastructure since the early 1980s, he said.
The hospital is actually a second phase for this community’s long-term plan to conceptualize a community wellness plan and create excellent health-care services locally.
It will be physically linked and adjacent to the Foyer Notre Dame Personal Care Home and the Centre Albert-Galliot Wellness and Primary Care Centre.
The latter facility opened three years ago to expand health-care services and create a “health and wellness campus’. The state-of-the-art, $3.5-million wellness centre is devoted to providing preventive health-care services in both French and English and includes a pharmacy, the local library, physiotherapy and rehabilitative care, mental health services and a fitness centre.
Compte said the third phase for health would be to see a new personal-care home replace the existing facility.
All these health-care investments really boil down to this community being able to plan and envision services to meet its needs by working collaboratively with a stable base of physicians, Compte said.
“It’s been a team effort, between the community and existing doctors to work together,” Compte said.
Notre Dame today is frequently visited by health authorities across the country who look to the community as a model for rural health care.
It boasts four doctors, including two who have been here 15 or more years.
Included among them is Dr. Denis Fortier, here for over 20 years, and named one of Canada’s 10 top physicians by the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 2003.
Fortier said he and his colleagues feel they “made a good match” with this community; they find rural practice very rewarding and remain committed to providing the best services they can, including obstetrics, because they know the needs of their community.
Construction will take three to five years. RHA officials said they hope to begin in 2011. [email protected]
– RENE COMPTE, NOTRE DAME RESIDENT AND HEAD OF THE LOCAL HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION COMMITTEE