Doctors Donate Building to the Group Health Centre

Group Health Centre has acquired new downtown digs with the announcement Monday that the owners of a medical office building on East Street have decided to hand over the keys as a gift.

Dr. Gregory Simpson, an optometrist, was among the building's original 12 partners. He said many in the group have retired or are nearing retirement and donating it to Group Health Centre is a way to ensure that it will continue to be used as a medical office building.

"A lot of our patients are from the downtown area, where they either live downtown or work downtown, and we wanted it to remain a medical facility," said Simpson, whose own office now operates off site.

Grant Walsh, president and CEO of the Group Health Centre, said the addition of the new building will help provide needed space for physicians who are part of Group Health Centre's medical group.

"It is a beautiful building and under our ownership we will upgrade it's public spaces and make it even friendlier and more accessibly for the patients who come to see their physicians there," said Walsh.

Group Health Centre recently cancelled some of the programs it operated at 240 McNabb St. and is in the process of a $1.1-million retrofit-including $550,000 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. - to create what it calls a "clinical learning centre."

"We're retrofitting right now to have five family physicians and six residents, or medical students, in that space to improve accessibility for our patients," said Walsh.

Dr. Gene Turgeon was among those who had the East Street building constructed in 1984 and was the first to sign his share of the structure over to GHC about six years ago.

Turgeon, who is a GHC physician, said he's happy to see the other shares going to Group Health as well.

"I think it's great," he said.

Walsh said non-Group Health offices currently in the building have long-term leases and are expected to remain there as tenants.

Turgeon said he doesn't plan to switch buildings. After all, he has an office he designed himself back in 1984.

"I'll finish off my career here," said Turgeon.

Simpson said the 20,000-square-foot building is valued at $3.4 million.

Walsh noted not all the donor physicians are members of Group Health Centre's medical group. He said the gift shows their commitment to outpatient medical care in the Sault.

Group Health Centre says the addition of 170 East St. is expected to make for better accessibility for its 60,000 patients.

The other partners in the building are: Dr. Alan Crawford, Dr. Philip Catania, Dr. Peter Maione, Dr. Peter Hiron, Dr. Morley Mossing, Dr. Peter Apostle, Dr. Lino Pistor, Dr. Douglas Bignell, Dr. David Gould and Dr. Eric Stanton.

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