Nation River Health Clinic consolidating Winchester/Chesterville operations at former Foodland store

The signs went up last week announcing the impending consolidation of the Nation River Health Clinic in downtown Winchester, at the former Foodland store. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen 
Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — The Nation River Health Clinic plans to close and consolidate its current Chesterville and Winchester offices into one larger site in Winchester — in the former Andy’s Foodland building on Main Street West.

Signs went up last week in the vacant structure’s windows announcing it as the intended new clinic site.

“I think it’ll be good for everybody,” says Dr. Bart Steele, principal partner in the Nation River Health Clinic practice, adding the consolidation is still at least six months away from happening.

The resulting closure of the NRHC office on Mill Street in Chesterville — the only clinic in the village — is the “only downside” of the plan, the doctor conceded.

The “extremely cramped” office on Fred Street in Winchester will similarly close as part of the switchover to the new Winchester site.

Steele explained the Main Street West building must first undergo renovations. When finished, NRHC will rent half of the available floorspace, about 4,000 square feet, from the company that now owns the property — a firm involving the current proprietors of the Seaway Valley Pharmacy located on the other side of the Main Street West.

Improved customer experience is the primary reason for the move, the doctor said. Patients will enjoy “more services that we’ll be able to offer as a result of us having more space.”

He added the new facility will also make it easier to recruit additional physicians.

The Chesterville Clinic on Mill Street. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Only the current group of three doctors now involved with the existing NRHC clinic sites on Fred Street and Mill Street — Dr. Steele, Dr. Teisha Legault and Dr. Vikas Bhagirath — will be making  the move to downtown Winchester, according to Steele.

The operation is not to be confused with the related Nation River Health “Organization” that involves several other doctors practicing out of the Community Care Building erected by Winchester District Memorial Hospital. While the trio of doctors at Steele’s Nation River Health “Clinic” are members of the similarly named “Organization,” the others in the “Organization” are not part of the “Clinic.”

Steele has tried a number of times over the past decade to spearhead the creation of a larger clinic in Winchester. This time, he said, the interested property owners approached him with a pitch and won him over with their idea. While they haven’t officially signed a lease yet, the doctors is confident enough to have posted the notices in the building’s windows.

He said he’s not at all opposed to another doctor taking over the spot at the municipally owned Chesterville Clinic but suggested it’s difficult to find just one physician willing to assume it as an individual pursuit.  Today’s up-and-coming generation of doctors “want to work as part of a team,” he said, adding previous generations of doctors were more apt to work out of an office by themselves. 

Dr. Bhagirath has been rotating through the Chesterville site two days a week.

About a decade ago, the community rallied to transform part of the Chesterville Community Centre’s bottom floor into a clinic, as a result of the impending retirement of a local doctor operating a medical office from home.


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