Wyoming Access to Care Clinic opening more hours this spring

Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Gary Atkinson at the funding announcement for the Wyoming Access to Care Centre Friday.

Families looking to figure out if a cough is serious or to stitch up a cut will have more options soon.

The Plympton-Wyoming Health and Wellness Centre will soon be open more often, thanks to funding from the provincial government.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey announced $910,000 in one-time funding for access to care centres in Lambton, including at the clinic in Wyoming.

The Health and Wellness Centre was the brainchild of former mayor, Lonny Napper. When TD Canada Trust shut down its Wyoming branch, he convinced the bank to turn the building over to the municipality to start a health clinic.

When the pandemic hit, the centre was used for a COVID-19 testing centre with about 2,500 people getting swabbed so they could travel, work or have medical procedures.

When the pandemic passed, the town went to work renovating the building with the community donating $183,000 to upgrade the building. Two doctors from the Central Lambton Family Health Team began their practice there and more recently, according to CLFHT Executive Director Ralph Ganter, nurse practitioners have been taking same-day appointments for those without a family doctor for all kinds of non-emergent health issues.

“For the most part, it really is like a lumps bumps, when people have upper respiratory tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, a lot of kids with ear infections and so forth, abrasions may be stitches. That’s the kind of stuff you’ll see here. Definitely not chest pain, definitely not like traumas; those would go to the hospital,” Ganter said

The centre has been open three days a week for four hours each day. With the funding, Ganter hopes to see the hours of the clinic expand to eight hours a day, four days of the week. He expects to see the hours extending by the end of May.

When the Wyoming Access to Care Centre’s hours increase, Ganter expects the number of people through the doors should increase from the 175 per month seen now to as high as 400 people a month. That will be good for the health care system as a whole, he added, because it will divert some of the 10,000 people in Lambton without family doctors from busy emergency rooms.

Nadine Neve, executive lead for the Sarnia-Lambton Ontario Health Team estimates about 70 per cent of the people visiting the clinics in Wyoming and Sarnia would have gone to the emergency department if the Access to Care Centres weren’t available.

Former Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper at the funding announcement for the Wyoming Access to Care Centre Friday.

Napper was one of the people on hand for Friday’s funding announcement. He’s ecstatic the vision of the health and wellness centre is coming to life. “I knew at the time it would come, but I didn’t think it’d be this quick,” he says.

Napper says the Wyoming centre is “a piece of the puzzle” of health care in Lambton County adding it is good to see hospitals and family health teams from across the county working together to improve health care in the community.

While the funding announced Friday isn’t guaranteed for more than one year, Ganter sees it as a test run. “We have to demonstrate our volumes as well. I don’t think we have any issue with getting those volumes. They want us to see this amount of patients to kind of earn the dollars. And if we continue to have success, then it becomes base.”