St. Bernard School

Town agrees to 10-year lease with nurse practitioner-led clinic


By Ron Giofu


The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic is one step closer to reality.

Town council agreed to a ten-year lease with the clinic with the motion to approve the lease coming after an in-camera meeting Jan. 14. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said they had a plan in mind for the former St. Bernard School after the town purchased it and the clinic is part of it.

The former St. Bernard School building is located at 320 Richmond St.

There are a number of renovations that are required before the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic can use their share of the building, but the mayor hopes it will be done in a few months.

The clinic is a reality in large part thanks to $650,000 in provincial funding.

“We hope to have them in there for residents to use by late-spring, early summer,” said DiCarlo. “Everybody wanted that clinic open as soon as possible. They have two options, – either they go somewhere else or they wait what most people would say is an unreasonable amount of time for health care. We’re trying to reduce that wait time and make sure that they don’t have to leave town.”

The Amherstburg clinic is expected to have three full-time nurse practitioners, a registered dietitian, a health promoter, physiotherapy services, a full-time registered practical nurse, an office administrator and a full-time receptionist. It could accommodate as many as 2,400 patients.

The mayor stated many towns like Amherstburg could use additional health care options.

“I don’t think I’ve talked to a community that said we’re flush with health care,” he said. “There’s a number of ways to provide health care and so what we’ve done is find an alternative model and these nurses and basically do just about anything a doctor can do.”

The former Catholic elementary school has been described as a potential “seniors hub,” but DiCarlo said it will be more of a community hub as there is the possibility for youth amenities as well.

“There’s a lot of room in that school. The (Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board) left it in really good shape,” he said.

The “general concept” of the site is health care, seniors care and seniors activities, he noted, but youth will be incorporated.

“It should be a great plan for young and old all in one convenient location in town,” said DiCarlo.

New councillor wants background info on two local properties and other issues



By Ron Giofu


One of Amherstburg’s five new councillors wants to ensure that they are all “in the loop” as it pertains to issues leftover from the previous council.

Councillor Peter Courtney mentioned the seniors hub planned for the former St. Bernard School site and the northern 12 acres of Centennial Park and wanted the new council to be brought up to speed on both projects. While acknowledging some of the previous discussions may have been in-camera, Courtney still wanted his colleagues as well as himself told what the plans are and what the status of the two projects are.

Concerns over Centennial Park appear to have been prompted by recent activity that was reportedly spotted by local residents.

“Some of our constituents thought they saw surveyors out on the north end of Centennial Park,” said Courtney.

Courtney said that is parkland and is looking to have the new council informed as to what the future of that site is, as well as the neighbouring St. Bernard School site.

There was also the ongoing issue of policing expenditures for local, non-town operated festivals that the 2014-18 town council had been debating. Courtney said he would like to see that matter resolved and would also like to see the new council get a full report on the matter.

Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic AGM features CAO as guest speaker

By Jonathan Martin


The Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic presented its annual report June 20, where Amherstburg CAO John Miceli stepped up as the night’s guest speaker.

Miceli lauded the clinic’s “notable success,” but also provided a little bit more insight into Amherstburg’s own plans to adopt the clinic’s programming.

Miceli brought the listeners back to Aug. 21, 2017, when Amherstburg Councillor Diane Pouget put forward a unanimously supported motion that “administration should be directed to investigate the number of family physicians and the availability of current and future services to residents of Amherstburg.”

Miceli then brought a report before council on Oct. 23, 2017 outlining provincial funding to expand primary care services for $15.5 million.

He was given a resolution that “the CAO be directed to work with Pauline Gemmell, executive director of Essex County nurse practitioner-led clinic, to develop a business case and apply for grant funding for the expansion and enhancing of interprofessional primary care for the Town of Amherstburg.”

Amherstburg CAO John Miceli speaks at the Essex County Nurse
Practitioner-led Clinic AGM June 20 in Essex.

Council voted in favour.

It supported the initiative for two reasons, according to Miceli.  First, he says it was an opportunity to broaden the Amherstburg health care network and provide Amherstburg residents with access to additional front-line medical professionals.  Secondly, it allowed the town to partner with the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic.  Miceli said the clinic has a “proven, success model” and that the program’s success is “known in (Amherstburg).”

Miceli said the clinic is doing an “exceptional job, which makes me grateful, because it makes my job easy.”

Miceli confirms that the new clinic will be located at the old St. Bernard School at 320 Richmond St., which he described as a “great location.”  He reiterated that the clinic will be part of the town’s planned seniors’ hub, but that it would be open to residents of any age.  In fact, he emphasized that the town’s new high school will be located just across the street at the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park.

“Acquiring St. Bernard’s was strategic,” he said.  “We knew we wanted to have programming with the new high school and knew that we wanted intergenerational programming.”

The CAO did recognize that Amherstburg’s senior population is growing quickly, though.  At present, seniors make up around 20 per cent of the town’s residents.  Within the next three to four years, that number is expected to leap up five percentage points.

Miceli said he expects the clinic to be open by the end of 2018 or in early 2019, which he expects will allow the town to meet the increased medical demand.

Councillor explains vote over St. Bernard School debate



By Ron Giofu


A town councillor is explaining her vote as it pertains to the issue of purchasing the former St. Bernard School.

After the in-camera portion during the April 23 town council meeting, council approved a motion to buy the former school building from the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board for $550,000.

Councillor Diane Pouget opposed the motion, but it was the second part of the motion that she disagreed with. Pouget said she supports the purchase of the school, and states she wants to see a “seniors hub” developed there.

The former St. Bernard School.

Pouget also introduced a separate motion last November to pursue grant funding for a Master Aging Plan.

“I fully support the acquisition of the former St. Bernard’s School as a seniors hub,” Pouget said. “In fact, I was the councillor who initiated the motion to apply for a grant for a Seniors’ Master Plan. However, I am adamantly opposed to the remainder of the (April 23) motion, that is to ‘authorize administration to move forward with the proposed plans as identified in the confidential report.’”

Pouget said she could not elaborate further but noted she is “very concerned” about the second part of the April 23 motion.

“Unfortunately, because it was one motion, I felt compelled to vote against it,” she said. “Further to that, I am not allowed to explain my position, because it was in-camera.”

Town officially purchasing former St. Bernard School



By Ron Giofu


The Town of Amherstburg is moving forward with the acquisition of the former St. Bernard School after agreeing to buy the building for $550,000.

Town council emerged from an in-camera meeting Monday night and authorized administration to remove conditions for the acquisition of the former Catholic elementary school. The purchase will be funded through the town’s parkland reserve with only Councillor Diane Pouget voting in opposition to the purchase.

CAO John Miceli said the issue never made it to arbitration as lawyers for both the town and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) were able to strike a deal. The building had been appraised by the board at $650,000.

“We came to a negotiated settlement,” said Miceli. “Both parties recognized the benefits to the community.”

The town and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board have agreed on a sale price of $550,000.

The plan for the building, located at 320 Richmond St., remains to develop it into a “seniors’ hub.” Miceli said with an aging population, the town wants “to improve the quality of life for seniors.” He pointed out the town is undertaking a seniors master plan.

“We recognize that they’re going to be a big part of our population and we need to be able to service them and we’re going to capitalize on that building and modify it to service the needs of the residents here in Amherstburg,” the chief administrative officer said.

Acquiring the building was the first step, he said, and now they can move forward with possible tenants for the building.

One possible tenant is a nurse practitioner-led clinic while space has been blocked out for other uses. Miceli said the preliminary plans can now move forward and the town can now proceed with discussions with the other potential user groups. The building would be modified according to what uses the building is put to.

“We’ve got a list of tenants that want to participate in that building,” Miceli indicated.

The town went public with its interest in the building last November, but frustrations have eased and now the matter has been resolved. The town could take ownership of building within 60 days.

St. Bernard School was closed by the WECDSB in 2016 with students transferred to Stella Maris School. The building was originally constructed in 1958 with additions being built in 1961 and 1971. The building is approximately 30,000 square feet.