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New ophthalmology clinic in Timmins to offer extended vision care to patients

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A new ophthalmology clinic in Timmins has opened.

The clinic is a result of a team effort with many partners collaborating to make it happen. It's located in the medical office building next to the Timmins and District Hospital on Ross Avenue.

Dr. Alejandro Oliver pitched the idea to the hospital and its foundation – now several months later, a turnkey office is equipped with the staff and machines necessary to diagnose eye disorders and diseases.

One ophthalmologist from Ottawa has already offered to work there one week out of every month so she can also visit her new grandbaby at the same time who just so happens to live in Timmins.

“It’s real pathology that needs desperate care," said Dr. Marie Louise Lapointe.

"It’s not like in Ottawa where there’s a lot of ophthalmologists. So it’s (a) very interesting practice and a lot of...grateful patients," she said.

“Even if it’s a small procedure with a laser I can’t do it," said Oliver.

"So having Dr. Lapointe here is tremendous; all of our local referring doctors are extremely excited to offer this to their patients so it’s going to be a real game changer for the community."

Dr. Doug Arnold is the chief of staff at the Timmins and District Hospital. He said an ophthalmologist would traditionally be responsible for purchasing all their own equipment – but with proceeds from the Timmins and District Hospital Foundation's 50/50 draw in December to pay for equipment along with additional funding from the province for renovations and other expenses, the new initiative will help many people get the care they need closer to home.

“It would be fantastic if we ended up with a full-time ophthalmologist to provide care, but that’s probably not still meeting the needs of Timmins,” said Arnold.

“So we need to continue looking at ways to expand … this is a great first step."

Dr. Lapointe and Dr. Oliver show some of the equipment purchased for the state-of-the-art ophthalmology locum clinic opened in Timmins. (Lydia Chubak/CTV News Northern Ontario)Now, officials said the search is on for someone who can perform cataract surgery

“Patients that require cataract surgery require extremely precise measurements – we bought that equipment for future surgeries," said Oliver.

"All that is here and ready for those who’d like to visit us.”

Arnold said this is the first time the hospital has created a locum clinic like this and it'll consider the concept to expand other areas of patient care in similar fashions in the future.  

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