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Bonfield welcomes new doctor to town

Dr. Erwin Feige will begin seeing patients this May at the Bonfield Medical Clinic

Bonfield has a new doctor, and the town could not be happier, as new patients are being accepted.

“It’s pretty exciting news,” said Mayor Narry Paquette, “to not only have one doctor, but to have two.”  It can be a challenge recruiting doctors to smaller communities, and Bonfield has been working to attract talent since Dr. Steve Steinberg retired last July.

This past January Dr. Fan-Hsia Mang began serving the community, and patients could receive treatment in Bonfield again. But it was a tough go before Dr. Mang came to town – “we’ve been without a doctor for almost a year now,” Mayor Paquette said.

And now the town has two. Dr. Erwin Feige will set up shop at the Bonfield Medical Clinic in mid-May. Dr. Feige has worked in North Bay since the mid-'80s. Starting as a family physician, he eventually became medical director of The Diagnostic Sleep Centre, on Champlain Street in North Bay.

“I did family medicine for 22 years,” Dr. Feige clarified, and he’s looking forward to returning to his roots in family medicine. “Getting to know people, and getting to know them over time,” is a highlight of family medicine he said, helping people “to have healthier lives.”

Work was done at the medical centre at 105 Landon St. to accommodate another doctor. The reception area was reduced, and another office was built down the hall. All work was inside – the building’s dimensions remain the same – but the crew made great use of the space, and now there is room for all.

See: Bonfield expects gap in service once sole doctor retires

Nicole Coker, the centre’s office administrator, has been there for around six years now, and she provided a brief timeline of the doctors who have worked there during her tenure. First, there was Dr. Holger Engels – “Hoagie” to many – and he served the community as a physician for over 20 years.

“We had nobody for about nine months,” after Dr. Engles passed in April of 2022. “Then we had Dr. Steinberg,” Coker continued, “and he was here for about three years, maybe four, and Dr. Mang has been here since January.”

“After Dr. Steinberg left, we had about five months” without a doctor in the office, she noted. However, Coker held the fort and helped the many patients who suddenly found themselves without a doctor in town. They all had to go to the Mattawa Hospital or a walk-in clinic in North Bay.

“With the new renovations, it’s a fresh new start,” Coker said, and she’s eager to see more patients coming through the doors. “I love the interactions” with the people, she said.

Prabir Das, pharmacist at the Bonfield Pharmacy, nestled below the medical centre, was thrilled with today’s announcement. “I’m more than happy,” he enthused. “With no family doctor, I do my best to help, so I’m very happy for the people of Bonfield,” who can now receive more medical attention.

“It will also decrease the cost for the government,” he added, “because everybody goes to the hospital, to the emergency, and cost for emergency is much higher than coming to the family doctor.”

“They’ve literally doubled the amount of doctors in the community,” emphasized Vic Fedeli, MPP for Nipissing. “And this will give people the opportunity to have their own primary care physician.”

Fedeli also announced today that the Ontario government is investing over $321,000 in the Powassan and Area Family Health Team, which will “expand their services to connect more people to interdisciplinary primary care.” About 2,300 people should benefit directly from that, Fedeli’s office stated.

Overall, a good day for Northern health care, “and a big day for Bonfield,” Fedeli said.

As for becoming a new patient, you need to sign up via Healthcare Connect, which will add your name to the list. You can register online or call 1-800-445-1822.

“The Bonfield Medical Centre will be accepting patients from that list,” the mayor said. “Once we have your name through Healthcare Connect, our office will reach out to you to set up all necessary steps to get you fully registered.”

“Our focus will be on Bonfield and Rutherglen residents,” Mayor Paquette clarified, “and I’m very proud and pleased to be the mayor of this great community.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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