/Just what the doctor ordered: a glimpse inside the KDHC
Yvette Brauer and Kim Restivo Galea stand in front of the Kinmount District Health Centre sign before the tour of the facility. /EMILY STONEHOUSE

Just what the doctor ordered: a glimpse inside the KDHC

By Emily Stonehouse

Let’s not sugar coat things here: there’s been some bad news from the medical world these days. Major provincial budget cuts, closures, and a complete uncertainty about the future of healthcare in Ontario. 

So when a good news story comes along from this industry, maybe it’s just what the doctor ordered. 

Located in the heart of Kinmount, just 15 minutes away from Minden, the Kinmount and District Health Centre (KDHC) has had their doors open for the past 25 years to patients from across the region. 

Up until this past week, the facility had two physicians, but Dr. Elena Mihu, who started her family medicine practice in Kinmount in 1999, retired on Aug. 31. Her patients have been transferred to the newer physician, Dr. Lesslie Ponraja, who encourages patients to call him “Dr. Lesslie.” Currently, there are 1700 patients rostered at the KDHC, including many from Minden and Haliburton County overall. 

Dr. Lesslie hails from Ashford, England, and joined the practice in Kinmount in March, 2023. After practicing medicine for 20 years – 15 as a family doctor and five in a hospital – he brings a wealth of knowledge and unwavering care to the KDHC. 

Yet, while Dr. Lesslie has jumped in with two feet to the facility, the foundation is still on the lookout to build their physician roster. “We are always open to new people doing a placement here,” shared Yvette Brauer, one of the foundation members for the KDHC, “and we are designed to accommodate up to three doctors.” 

The foundation does the vast majority of all fundraising for the organization, with two large events each year: The Christmas Appeal and the Journey for Health in the summer season. Comprised of 11 members, the foundation is also heavily involved in the day-to-day of the operations at KDHC, including maintaining the building, tending to the gardens, ordering equipment for the practices, and recruiting physicians. “We are aware that there is a huge need for doctors in the community,” said Kim Restivo Galea, a member of the KDHC foundation, “so our goal is to fill that spot. We’ve done this process before [of recruitment], so we know we can do it  again.”

While the facility is a medical centre, the foundation goes beyond recruiting physicians and nurses. They are also eagerly building a roster of professionals to create a holistic wellness facility for the community. This includes access to an in-house physiotherapist, professional foot care, a dental hygienist, and a Life Labs for blood work exclusively for KDHC patients. 

The building also houses a full pharmacy downstairs, which is owned and operated by Samuel Iskandar. Open six days a week, the pharmacy offers prescriptions, vaccinations, and day-to-day basics needed for home healthcare. Iskandar noted that recently, pharmacists have been given the green light to offer their own prescriptions for ailments such as cold sores, allergies, or UTI’s. He shared that while there are a series of caveats to these in-house prescriptions, it could help patients and physicians with wait times and prescription management moving forward. 

While the world of medicine is uncertain, and the needs for the community continue to climb, setting foot in the KDHC is a breath of fresh air. Where so often the human component of medical attention has been replaced with clinical monitors and machines, the KDHC offers a space that is warm, friendly, and inviting; offering hope and support to all those navigating their unique medical journeys. 

It’s just what the doctor ordered.