$5-million clinic proposal surprises council


Kincardine council received a shock Sept. 17 when preliminary plans for the medical clinic came in with a budget near $5-million.

Parkin Architects presented council with a plan that includes a 10,500 sq. ft addition to the existing clinic’s west side and a 4,200 sq. ft. pharmacy attached to the building’s south end. The approximate cost of the construction is $4.6-million, well above council’s expected cost for the project.

“I’m taken aback,” said councillor Guy Anderson. “We were thinking: let’s go for 10,000 sq. ft and about $2-million.”

Architects Brent Whiteley and Lynne Wilson Orr met with medical staff, doctors and staff from the McKechnie Pharmacy four times before unveiling the new design to council. Wilson Orr said the architects also took into account changes in the Ontario building code and accessibility requirements when designing the addition.

Parkin’s plan calls for a 10,500 sq. ft main floor addition. The addition will combine with the main floor of the existing building to provide enough working space for 12 doctors, nursing staff, administrative and clinical staff and public areas like washrooms and restrooms. There will be approximately 30 exam rooms needed to meet the requirements of a full slate of doctors. Expanded administrative areas and nursing space are also part of the Parkin plan.

This drawing from Parkin Architects shows the newest proposal for the addition to the Kincardine community medical clinic. Note the large pharmacy built separate from the clinic addition.

Whiteley said the existing building would continue to hold doctor’s offices and administrative space on its main floor. The floor will need renovation work and other cosmetic changes to bring it up to code with new requirements and to maximize the space.

“We were surprised by the costing,” said Dr. Lisa Roth, one of the physicians who met with Parkin Architects during the planning meetings. “The plan they have come back with, we’re pleased with. All the doctors will be on one floor, and that is excellent.”

Water and air quality problems in the clinic’s basement forced McKechnie Pharmacy to move to a Queen Street location a year ago. Parkin’s plan to build a separate, 4,000 sq. ft addition for them is one of the major elements of the plan.

The former pharmacy occupied a net space of 1,500 sq. ft. Parkin’s new design almost triples that. At a cost of $225 per sq. ft, construction of the separated pharmacy would be almost $1-million. McKechnie’s is a private company and would pay the municipality to rent out the space.

“It’s a wise choice to have the pharmacy somewhere other than the clinic itself,” said councillor Ken Craig. “But, it needs to pay for itself.”

Whiteley also had a proposal for the clinic’s remediated basement. Despite council spending money to repair it, the medical staff has steadfastly refused to work in the lower level. The new proposal plans to use that space to house a family health team.

Family health teams can include physiotherapy clinics, doctors, social workers, nurse practitioners and dieticians. Whiteley suggested the basement could be reconfigured to fit any services that would come with the health team.

Parkin’s costing structure included both clinical and non-clinical space. The renovation work, which includes the two floors of the existing building, is priced at $125 per square foot. The new construction is $225 a square foot. In total, non-clinic space would cost $1,278,150 and the clinical portion would be approximately $3,368,900.

“This was supposed to bring up a lot of questions,” Wilson Orr said. “We’re looking for feedback. We won’t be going away (from the meeting) mad.”

After the proposal was unveiled, council offered its opinions on the plan. Councillors said they need more time to review the information.

“This will take a little time to get at,” said Anderson. “That’s a tremendous amount of money; it never ends.”

Kincardine has long been waiting for a new hospital. The approximate price tag on that project is $30-million. The clinic addition would represent 15 per cent of that cost, so Craig said he wants to make sure the municipality is not building that new hospital right now. He also wants to meet with physician recruitment coordinator Lynn Bos to see if space for 12 doctors is a reasonable request.

Whiteley and Wilson Orr said council gave a mixed reaction to their plan. They are waiting for more feedback from the municipality before moving forward, or refining the clinic’s design.

“Council gave us (space and cost estimates) as a good starting point,” Whiteley said. “They wanted us to come up with something that would meet their future needs.”

Council voted to defer the discussion to its next corporate services meeting Oct. 8. Staff is also setting up a chance for councillors to tour the fixed-up basement of the clinic before making a decision on the building’s future.

Why not start from scratch

Why not start from scratch with a new medical centre. It will cost you less in the end. All the money you have spent on feasibility and legal fees, etc. is absolutely ridiculous.