Saint Andrews opens new wellness centre

SAINT ANDREWS – The new Saint Andrews Wellness Centre is now open for business. On Friday, May 14, a grand opening ceremony was held at the new wellness centre, which is located in the W.C. O’Neill Arena Complex on Reed Street. Dignitaries, including outgoing Mayor Doug Naish, Councillor Kate Akagi, and Saint Croix MLA Kathy Bockus were on hand for the grand opening, and to thank all those who made this new wellness centre possible, including the Dunn Foundation.

The construction of the new wellness center, which was done by Maxim Construction, involved a huge team effort. The design consultants from Toss Solutions met with those who used the original facility on Sophia Street, along with town staff, Naish, and council members to decide the best type of facility to meet the needs of residents, both now and in the future.

Tom Taylor spoke to the small crowd on behalf of the Dunn Foundation. He said when planning for the ceremony began, it made him think of his family’s beginnings in Saint Andrews. In 1970, his father was visiting the town to play golf with his own father. Word got around there was a dentist visiting Saint Andrews, and since there was no practicing dentist at the time, people sought him out.

“During that golf game, some persons in the town had heard there was a dentist visiting,” said Taylor. “There was no dentist in Saint Andrews, so they searched for him. Unable to locate him on the course (God knows where he was, probably in the woods), they found his car and they left a note, ‘could you please contact us, we would very much like to speak with you’.”

Following his golf game, Taylor met with the people who needed his services, and by that fall, he moved his family to Saint Andrews. He purchased a property that had a horse stable, and that stable was converted into a dental office, which opened in the spring of 1971. At the time, Taylor befriended Lady Beaverbrook, who gifted the building to the town, and together with another practicing doctor, Dr. Donnie Smith, they formulated the idea of a health centre in town.

“They said there would be medical services provided, along with dental, for the residents and the people living close by,” said Taylor. “That was opened in 1975. That then carried us forward. My mother was the first practicing dietitian…and my aunt followed her. That brings us forward to today with the current opening of this beautiful Saint Andrews Wellness Centre that we have in front of us.”

Taylor took a moment to welcome the new medical practitioner, Dr. Julie Levesque-Taylor, to Saint Andrews, adding he is looking forward to the next development for the wellness centre; the addition of dental services. The rooms are already in place, and they are currently seeking dental practitioners to “join and fully complement” the health services in Saint Andrews.

Naish thanked the Dunn Foundation for all they have done for the community over the years, calling the construction “our most important accomplishment”.

“It’s our magnus opus, our great work of the time that we’ve (council) been here,” said Naish.

Naish spoke about how this is a wellness centre as opposed to a health centre. He said obviously we have to deal with illness, but we also have to deal with long-term health and wellness. This centre will help patients to not only deal with their illnesses, but also help them learn how to live long, healthy lives.

“One of the good things about this centre is that it’s a completely self-sufficient operation that’s been paid for by the generous contribution of the Dunn Foundation, being matched by the taxpayers of Saint Andrews. I think when we talk about primary health care, we should be talking about community health care. I hope this can be a model for the rest of the province,” said Naish.

Dr. Brian Peer said Saint Andrews has been a “wonderful place to work”. He added that the town and the Dunn Foundation have been a huge asset in helping him to manage his practice, and it is nice that the vision of Lady Dunn and Doctor Taylor could “carry on in this new building”. He also said he is thrilled to have another doctor to work with. He said over the past 26 years he has worked with about five other physicians, and he thinks Levesque-Taylor is “going to stick this one out”.

“I think she’ll be here a long time,” said Peer.

Levesque-Taylor said when she came to Saint Andrews, her first thought was, “what a beautiful place”. Originally from Moncton, Levesque-Taylor said she had been working away, and when it came time to move back to New Brunswick, she and her family decided they wanted to live where they could be part of a community, and live in a “quiet, natural place”.

“Saint Andrews certainly fit that bill,” said Levesque-Taylor. “I tell people all the time, ‘I live in a postcard’. It’s a beautiful place. My husband, my family, and my dog is deliriously happy. We’re not going anywhere.

“We’re super happy to be part of a community that values health and wellness, and the support that we get from the town and the Dunn Foundation allows us to spend more time with patients, which means that you talk about things like prevention. I’ve never met so many people that you don’t need to convince to do some walking, and that exercise is prescription, and the time we can spend doing that makes a huge difference.

“I’m happy to be part of that team. I’ve never felt so welcome in a community, and I appreciate that.”

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca