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M+H finds success with integrated MOB near Ottawa

New 58,864-sq.-ft. facility corners market on family doctors in Carleton Place, outside Ottawa

The Carleton Place Regional Health Hub, being developed in the town just west of Ottawa at M+H Properties Group. (Courtesy M+H)
The Carleton Place Regional Health Hub, being developed in the town just west of Ottawa at M+H Properties Group. (Courtesy M+H)

M+H Properties Group believes it has crafted a winning formula with a multi-storey, 58,864-square-foot medical office development in the town of Carleton Place, just outside Ottawa.

The project, slated for occupancy in 2025, has attracted all of the town's family doctors, according to M+H managing partner Brad McDonald. It is now leasing space to what the company expects will be a wide range of health-care professionals and related businesses.

McDonald calls the project a turn-key, multidisciplinary medical office building "mostly focusing on primary care."

“With the population growth in Carleton Place, which will be dramatic in the next 10 years when it will essentially double, they need to pin down primary care,” McDonald said during an interview with RENX to discuss the Carleton Place Regional Health Hub.

Carleton Place has a population of just over 12,000, a figure expected to double in the next decade due in large part to its location on the western border of Ottawa - population just over one million.

The Carleton Place Regional Health Hub

A combination of rapidly rising housing prices in Ottawa in recent years and increased employer flexibility on hybrid working arrangements (a mix of work-from-home and time spent in the office), has created significant housing demand in communities such as Carleton Place. The town is about 40 kilometres from downtown Ottawa.

Ottawa-based M+H is constructing the four-storey building at 22 Costello Dr., at the eastern edge of the town in an area experiencing rapid residential and retail development. The building's floor plates are approximately 14,700 square feet.

It will include 153 surface parking spaces.

The hub is to house all manner of medical professionals from physicians to chiropractors and physiotherapists, cardiologists, opticians and more. The premises will also have a pharmacy on the main floor.

McDonald said securing the town's family physicians as tenants was the critical factor in making a project of this scope viable in a community of this size.

“Once you have primary-care physicians, it brings a lot of viability and vigour to all the other leasing efforts,” he said. “We’re working on filling the building around them.”

New model for recruiting

Carleton Place’s other medical office buildings are aging, one potential reason the area had been having trouble attracting physicians. It's also a key reason M+H began its preliminary work on the Carleton Place Regional Health Hub a couple of years ago.

"This will really help keep primary care strong in the township,” McDonald said. “They were having trouble retaining and recruiting new physicians to the town and this has really enabled them to bolster their recruiting efforts and not only retain but recruit new ones.” 

The projected population growth made it all the more important to secure and improve access to primary health-care services, creating the opportunity for M+H.

“Prior to us doing this, all the physicians in town were practising out of their own facilities, so it had a very siloed approach,” McDonald said. “They will occupy the full second storey of the building (and part of the third floor), and then the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team is going to support them and that’s another great way to help them recruit new physicians.”

M+H undertook extensive consultations with the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team, which McDonald said revealed medical recruits fresh out of school are looking to practise in integrated facilities.

The new hub will become part of an unofficial health-care district. There is a retirement home across the street, a neighbouring dental facility and it is just a few blocks from the town's hospital. 

Moreover, the efforts might even facilitate Carleton Place becoming the site for a new regional hospital, with a property at the end of the street considered to be one potential site.

“At the end of the day, we’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, so to speak,” McDonald said, adding that, “the town has deemed this to be medical-campus zoning.”

Follows model of nearby Almonte

M+H's Carleton Place hub hopes to build off the decade-long success of a similar facility in the nearby community of Almonte.

According to Peter Hamer, CEO of the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team, there has been a shortage of physicians in the area. However, the so-called integrated model provides physicians with easy access to ancillary services to facilitate better patient care.

“Because it is completely integrated within the Family Health Team model, which provides nurses, mental health therapists, dieticians — all of the ancillary health services that physicians want to work in conjunction with — it’s also a benefit to the patients,” Hamer said.

“We’ve recruited seven physicians in the last five years and it’s because they want turn-key (facilities) that has not just administrative staff but that supports clinical staff as well.”

The need for M+H's Carleton Place Regional Health Hub was apparent right away. Within 24 hours of publicly opening a patient waiting list for medical spaces at the facility, 500 potential patients had signed up.

“The need is there, clearly,” Hamer said. “There aren’t enough doctors for the patients, or the community that already lives there, and seeing the existing population projections, there’s no hope in the existing environment that the town would be able to sustain their needs for primary care.

"This will go a long way in ensuring that we’ll be able to at least try and meet those needs.”

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