After years of working in a corner of Finlandia Village not originally designed to be a doctor's office, Dr. Gerry Bakker said he's looking forward to moving into his new office at the Lepokoti assisted living facility.
“I would like to personally thank the board in the Finnish Rest Home Society for also having the vision to build this beautiful new medical office that even has windows,” he joked, while speaking at a press conference Oct. 12.
“It has been a long time since I have had a window.”
The $15-million, 82-unit Lepokoti facility is due to start taking in residents at the end of the month, and will celebrate its grand opening Nov. 2.
Finlandia recently received $495,000 in additional funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation for the new doctor's office, as well as educational programming space and a multi-purpose hall.
Including the new funding, the project has now received nearly $8 million from government coffers. Through its Sisu capital campaign, Finlandia is also trying to raise $3 million for the project itself.
This goal has nearly been reached, Sudbury Finnish Rest Home Society president Brian Koivu told Northern Life. He said he's hoping he can announce the successful completion of the Sisu campaign at the facility's grand opening.
Bakker, who has been Finlandia's medical director for the last 12 years, said he'll be sharing the space with his wife, Debra, who recently retired as a nursing professor from Laurentian University, and his long-time secretary, Marion Pharand.
“It's a much bigger area, and has been constructed for wheelchair accessibility, scooter accessibility and walker accessibility,” he said.
He said Finlandia's amenities are the “envy” of other community care facilities across the province.
“Our transitional approach to care allows older adults to live in an environment where services are available that promote ongoing independence and optimal functioning,” Bakker said.
The funding announcement was made by Sudbury MPP and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci.
“This new wellness centre will be a place where residents can gather, receive medical services and enjoy leisure activities all under one roof,” Bartolucci said, in a press release.
“I am very pleased that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund could support this important centre in one of our community's most sought-after retirement homes.”
Koivu extended his “sincere appreciation” to the province.
“The funding announced today has made what otherwise would not have been possible in terms of infrastructure not only possible, but as you can see, very much a reality,” he said.
Koivu said he hopes Lepokoti will be a place where older adults, “both Finn and veneer Finn” can thrive, and “where their wellness, safety and security would be sustained and enhanced.”
Art Pyette, who lives in one of Finlandia's existing supportive housing apartments, said the new doctor's office, educational space and multi-purpose hall are “another step of excellence in the direction that we want Finlandia to go.”
“Finlandia is a great place to live,” he said.
For more information about the facility, visit www.finlandiavillage.ca or phone Finlandia at 705-524-3137.