By Doug Hallett
With a new public health facility near Stone Road Mall set to open in just over two months, health officials are starting to make arrangements to relocate people from four locations.
“It’s on budget and on time,” Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health communications manager Chuck Ferguson says.
The targeted move-in date is May 27, and the move won’t take long. “There will be minimum disruption of any public service,” Ferguson said.
Public health staff who are now in temporary offices on Imperial Road and Woolwich Street will all be moved to the new facility. As well, most services currently offered at the Shelldale Centre will be moved to the new building, Ferguson said.
Some staff will also be moved from the health unit’s Fergus location, he said.
Some public health clinic space will remain in the Shelldale Centre, which serves the west end’s Onward Willow community, after the new facility opens. “Shelldale is a community where we have a presence, and a lot of people use us,” Ferguson said in an interview Tuesday.
He said public health employees are “all looking forward to being under one roof and not having to move again.”
The new facility, which will serve residents of Guelph and Wellington County, “will be a state-of-the-art medical facility,” Ferguson said.
A new health facility is Orangeville, which will serve Dufferin County residents, will be ready for move-in at the end of April or early May, he said.
The Guelph facility will have new clinic rooms, including “a negative pressure area for treating tuberculosis,” he said.
The building is designed for easy public access. It includes a teaching kitchen for food handler courses, clinical facilities, an emergency operation centre to handle any public health emergency, and space for community partners to book meetings, he said.
The new public health facility in Guelph, which was the subject of a bitter court fight in 2011 between the city and the health unit, is being built east of Stone Road Mall on land leased from the University of Guelph.
Guelph council challenged the health unit’s right to proceed with the Guelph facility and load debt onto the city’s books without the city’s consent, but a judge ruled in the fall of 2011 that provincial legislation allows the health unit to do this.
The province shares the cost of public health operations with municipalities, but it doesn’t pay for capital projects undertaken by public health units.
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By Doug Hallett