The Town of Fort Erie is the new home of a regional, state-of-theart, urgent care facility. Primary Care Niagara opened its doors on March 4th, moving from its original location in Niagara Falls to the Garrison Plaza, at the corner of Garrison and Thompson roads. When the clinic opened its doors 15 years ago on Valley Way, “the city was medically underserviced, but this is no longer the case” said Tim Windsor, Clinical Services Director. This is the truth, as there are many urgent care clinics that have since set up shop in Niagara Falls. On the other hand, Fort Erie and its adjacent communities, namely, Port Colborne, Welland, Crystal Beach, Ridgeway, Stevensville and Sherkston, are very underserviced, hence the reason for the relocation. Dr. Artaj Singh says that based on Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care guidelines, Fort Erie should have roughly 16 to 18 full-time family physicians and, according to surveys, the town only has six full-time and six part-time. Tim Windsor likens the new facility to a “medical campus”, offering such services as a full-service pharmacy, a medical laboratory (the only one in Fort Erie outside of the hospital itself), physiotherapy beginning in May, a psychology/counseling center, a foot clinic, and hearing/audiology clinics. Beginning in April, there will also be general surgery and internal medicine consults offered which is something unprecedented in the realm of urgent care facilities.
“We’re going to provide five-day, extended-hour service,” said Singh. “Our focus is not just on acute care, which is very important — that’s the primary thing we do — but we’ve got a huge focus on preventative care.”
Because of the unique “campus-like” set up of this clinic, Dr. Singh says that more specialists are showing an interest in coming on board. He said that the Walker Family Centre is “very interested” in having a part-time oncologist work on site. The words “sick today, seen today”, ring true as Windsor stresses that this clinic will strive to ensure that patients’ medical needs are met quickly and efficiently. Primary Care Niagara offers a flexible access care model which allows for patients to “do your waiting wherever you want”, as the website says. Gone are the days of waiting for hours to receive care. From the comfort of your desktop, laptop or Smartphone, you can check in to the clinic and digitally enter the waiting room. The Town of Fort Erie holds a special place in Dr. Singh’s heart as he was the medical director of the Fort Erie Urgent Care when it opened back in 2004, which was later taken over by Dr. Hugh Mitchell. “That clinic continues to thrive and provide patient care here under his name. With that successful experience, the town wanted to talk to us to see if we can re-engage and come back to town,” says Singh. Primary Care Niagara differs from other urgent care clinics in that it not only provides “walk-in” medical care, but it also has a Family Practice. By downloading and filling out the application on the clinic’s website, you can become a member of the Primary Care Niagara Family Health Group.
Your PCN physicians will provide certain comprehensive or preventative medical services and treatments exclusively to members of their Family Health Group and not to walk-in urgent care patients. Periodic health exams, general check-ups and preventative care are examples of these Family Health Group services. Niagara is a prime tourist area. That’s no secret. So what happens when you are from out of province or out of country and someone in your family gets sick? Primary Care Niagara has the answer. From colds & minor illness to stitches, minor fractures or more serious illness, PCN is the place to go. There is a fee for the visit and there will be an additional charge if any medical procedures are required, but the “seen today” motto applies. The clinic is staffed with physicians who are qualified and have practiced in both the United States and Canada. Another thing that sets PCN apart from other medical facilities is its commitment to social responsibility. Both Dr. Artaj Singh, and his wife, Dr. Judy Singh, have a passion for overseas medical issues and causes, having worked together with Mother Teresa in the hospitals and streets of Calcutta. Along with Tim Windsor, the Clinical Services Director, they established, in late 2009, a charity called Initiative 360 – Take it Global, which helps raise awareness and resources to benefit African countries. This commitment has taken them to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Angola on several occasions. Every time a patient visits PCN, a portion of the fee paid by OHIP, to the clinic, is donated to support Health Care and Development work in Africa. The Niagara Region is definitely very fortunate to have in our midst, Dr. Singh and his team at PCN. Not only are these physicians dedicated to the well-being of the members of their community, but their focus also extends globally. As cliché as this may sound, they really do all want to make the world a better place. TM