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Wednesday July 15th, 2015

Posted at 1:37pm

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Christina Regier, 33, comes to the vacant former Grace Hospital site to play ball with there dog. She said with the number of people in the area with dogs, it’s been nice to have an open area to play.

In a now quiet neighborhood where dogs run through a large vacant lot with their owners and families stroll through the grass with kids who run and jump and play, change is coming.

Where the Grace Hospital building stood abandoned for years now is a large, vacant, green lot, but according to Windsor Regional Hospital CEO and president David Musyj, it won’t be this way much longer.

“ER is a good word, but it’s called an urgent care centre,” said Musyj. “85 per cent of patients that come to an emergency department now go straight home so the concept, which is used elsewhere in the province, is how do we service and take care of those 85 per cent of patients better than what we’re doing now.”

With the plans for the new mega-hospital to be unveiled tomorrow, rumors of its location have caught Windsorites by a storm. This urgent care centre is planned to offset the wait times those less acute patients may incur as highly acute patients enter ER doors.

Musyj explained this concept is being used across the province and noted Queen’s Way in Toronto.

“These less acutely ill patients that right now are coming to an emergency department and are kind of competing for time with the really acute patients,” said Musyj. “Someone who has a broken arm can go to an urgent care centre and get it set, casted and go home. Right now when they come to an emergency department, if someone comes in without vital signs it’s all hands on deck, everyone in the emerge responds to that person and that of course delays the person with the broken arm or the laceration to be treated.”

Musyj noted however, this urgent care centre can not be confused with a walk-in clinic. While walk-in clinics often use the term “urgent care,” the two should not be confused as the same.

Residents in the area of the former Grace Hospital site on the corner of Crawford and University are showing mixed emotions about the centre.

Mojgan Refaei, 32, said living with her 21-month-old daughter just across the street from the planned urgent care site would give her some peace of mind if anything were to happen.

“It will be good for us, for everybody in this area,” said Refaei. “Our health system right now is good, it’s free. Sometimes it can be a long wait time, but it is what it is, it’s free health care.”

In a similar streamline of thinking of Catherine McPhee who lives just down the street on Crawford. While McPhee has seen a number of families and dog owners utilizing the space, with rumors of the new mega-hospital site being so far from their area, she believes it will be beneficial to have an urgent care centre on this end of the city.

“I’m happy to have sometime positive come in here,” said McPhee. “The staff, the nurses, the physicians, everybody there [at Hotel Dieu-Grace Hospital] is fantastic but they’re definitely working with some very difficult restraints that are out of their control currently. Hopefully with the new centre, that will help them out so they can more effectively do their jobs.”

However, 20-year residents Peter Wright and his wife Debby are afraid history will repeat itself. Wright said he had four children born at Grace Hospital and he would like to see something different in the area now.

“I don’t really have a problem with it, just that the urgent care centers just don’t do any good and I think that a better use, even though the city’s closing down parks and everything, a better land use for here is a park,” said Wright. “Why are we going back to the same old, same old? It makes no sense whatsoever. Make it a park … it was a failed project the last time, why would it be any better this time?”

Wright’s wife Debby agrees and the couple shared their horror stories about the homeless living inside the old structure, throwing rocks and passers by, as well as the lack of care, tall grass and rats which intruded the area.

“We’ve suffered enough because we had ten years of that decrepit thing and I think they owe the neighborhood something nice,” said Debby. “It’s more traffic, and parking problems. What we went through with this hospital, it was horrible. When we first moved here the hospital was a hospital and then when they let that go, it was just years and years and years of horrible. They didn’t take care of anything. You couldn’t walk down here because the snow as so high.”

However, Musyj is excited about the new urgent care centre and said the plans have been coming together nicely. In 2018, the centre would have been standing for 100 years and Grace Hospital is a legacy Musyj is honored to be continuing. Additionally, if they can in turn help to revitalize the area and assist in producing economic development, the benefits are endless.

“As we close the two existing hospitals and open up the new acute, this urgent care centre has to be up and running,” said Musyj. “If everything goes smooth, we’re seven to 10 years out, so that’s if everything goes as planned … we’ve engaged with thousands of individuals in the community as we go ahead with this project and that’s been exciting and again, this is the community’s hospital so we’ve tried in every which way to get the community involved all the way along and we’re being told by the Ministry of Health that they’ve never seen a more engaged community on a hospital project as this one.”

Mojgan Refaei, 32, lives across from the former Grace Hospital site and feel as though the impact on the community will be a positive one.

Catherine McPhee frequents the former Grace Hospital site walking with friends and feels that while it’s been nice to have a vacant lot, it will be a positive move for Windsorites to have an urgent care centre in that end of Windsor.

Peter Wright and his wife Debby have lived in the Grace Hospital area for 20 years and are worried history will repeat itself if another medical centre takes over the site.

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