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New walk-in clinic opens on Lasalle

Dr. Dennis Reich, with receptionist Laurel Ashick-Stinson, has opened a new walk-in clinic at the Real Canadian Superstore on Lasalle Boulevard.

Dr. Dennis Reich, with receptionist Laurel Ashick-Stinson, has opened a new walk-in clinic at the Real Canadian Superstore on Lasalle Boulevard. Carol Mulligan/The Sudbury Star

The emphasis will be on convenience when Sudbury’s newest walk-in medical clinic opens Monday at the Real Canadian Superstore on Lasalle Boulevard.

Dr. Dennis Reich, a former owner of the Northwood Clinics, is back in Sudbury after a four-year sabbatical with his family in the Caribbean, where he lived and did locum work.

Reich returned to his hometown two months ago with a new appreciation for the Canadian medical system and an eagerness to help patients who don’t have a family doctor or whose physicians are on vacation.

The 3,000-square-foot office Reich is opening has two sides — a walk-in clinic that will operate six days a week and a family medical practice he plans to open by the fall.

Reich has already registered 100 patients at Primacy Clinic in space rented from RCSS. The chain, owned by Loblaws, has about three-dozen walk-in clinics in Ontario stores, but this is the first in Northern Ontario.

Reich is looking to recruit three physicians to join him in the family practice, Greater Sudbury Medical Centre, and to do shifts in the clinic.

The location is ideal for patients, said Reich. There is plenty of free parking, there’s a pharmacy in the store and his patients can take advantage of services offered by RCSS’s dietitian, organic food expert and pharmacists.

When visiting the walk-in clinic, after registering and waiting to see a doctor, patients can do a little shopping.

The space Reich is leasing is bright and well laid out with nine or 10 examination rooms, a couple of shared procedure rooms, a counselling room, a shared nursing station and a lunch room.

Each examination room is set up for computers to handle electronic medical records so doctors can go online to demonstrate for patients how the ear or the pancreas works, for example, or print literature.

Reich is optimistic he will be able to attract doctors from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, a facility he says has been a boon to the region in dealing with the orphan patient situation.

A former president of the Sudbury and District Medical Society, Reich has seen a decline in the number of people without a family doctor.

People have either found a family physician through the province’s Health Care Connect system or learned to navigate the system by attending walk-in clinics and seeing the same doctors as much as possible.

Without NOSM, Reich says the doctor shortage would be a crisis in the North.

His practice offers what young graduates want today — the opportunity to work medicine in a group.

Reich sees his clinic acting as a bridge for patients who are still looking for a family doctor until physicians graduating from NOSM set up their own practices and get “their toe in the pool.”

Reich said it’s good to be home with his wife and three children after living in the British Virgin Islands, where the health care system made him appreciate Canadian medicare.

“It just makes you so much more confident in the institutions of Canada and the way things are run, and the relative transparency that you see. In general, the system (in Canada) is there trying to help people and do the right thing.”

In the Caribbean, he saw young people dying of diabetes, children who had been misdiagnosed for years. Preventative care just didn’t exist.

“Canada puts a huge emphasis on preventative care and the monitoring of (diseases), and we can’t take it for granted because it’s very easily lost if it’s not protected.”

Bryon Messier, store manager of the Real Canadian Superstore, said he’s happy to have Reich and the clinic as tenants.

It’s great for the community, good for his store and will bring in foot traffic.

“Whenever you can offer a new service for the customer, it’s a good deal,” said Messier.

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