Kelly's Cross-Cumberland MLA Peter Bevan-Baker stands outside the South Shore Pharmacy in Crapaud. Bevan-Baker is one of many supporters waiting to hear back from the provincial treasury board on whether a new health care centre will be built in the community.
©Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
CRAPAUD - An ounce of prevention here could eventually lead to a pound of cure for Island taxpayers.
Residents here are waiting on word from the provincial government whether the proposal for a "multi-disciplinary health care centre" will be built in the community.
Lisa Gallant, owner of the South Shore Pharmacy, said the centre would provide significant long-term health savings by removing nearly 500 patients on the provincial registry.
"Those are people who don't have a doctor," said Gallant. "If they have an acute situation, they're going to walk-ins now. If they have a chronic medical condition they might not be seen at all, which would lead to long-term complications."
Seeing extra patients would be possible due a nurse practitioner joining Dr. Hendrik Visser in the new centre.
Visser currently runs his practice in a renovated home close to the pharmacy.
The proposed centre would see the practice moved to a 2,000 square foot clinic attached to the pharmacy.
Talks began with Health P.E.I. in 2014 and while Gallant said the province seemed to support the "general principles," of a new medical centre,
However, a proposal sent to the provincial treasury board last year was denied in the summer.
The province has said the new centre would only be approved if it was cost-neutral to taxpayers, with the previous proposal carrying a price tag of about $80 thousand annually.
"It wasn't' terribly expensive," said Gallant, who added that a number of concessions were made in the new proposal. "It (the new proposal) is pretty well cost-neutral."
Peter Bevan-Baker, Green Party MLA for Kelly's Cross-Cumberland, had previously presented the P.E.I. legislature with a petition with more than 800 signatures from the community supporting the development .
He said the major hurdle has been that most of the significant savings would be long-term and might not be realized for 10 years.
"There would also be some immediate savings too, by removing those patients from the registry," said Bevan-Baker. ""It would eliminate associated emergency room visits, if you do the math it does look like it would be revenue neutral."
Bevan-Baker said the Green Party has a holistic approach to health care that puts more emphasis on prevention and endorsing healthy living through diet, reducing stress and exercise.
"It looks at all the things we know makes us and reduces the burden on the health care system. But those are not sexy items politically because they don't produce immediate benefits," he said. "But if we can keep people out of health problems, there are tremendous savings to that. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Bevan-Baker met with the Crapaud community council and opposition leader Jamie Fox, who also supports the project, recently to discuss the proposal.
While he's waiting to hear back on the treasury board's decision, Bevan-Baker said he'll be pushing for a roundtable meeting between all groups involved if the proposal is rejected again.
"All the stakeholders have not actually sat down in the same room together and discussed this," he said. "But I think we'll probably hold off on that until the treasury board's decision comes down."
Gallant said, if approved, the medical centre would either be located either at the current pharmacy's location or in an open lot between Anna's Country Kitchen and the Crapaud Curling Club.
She said she is hoping an agreement will soon be reached to allow construction to begin this spring or summer.