Marilyn Butcher, cofounder of the Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics, issued that invitation Wednesday to more than 50 people crammed into the Walden Seniors and Pensioners Club to learn details of the Lively clinic.
The Lively clinic is expected to open at the end of October in the former Greater Sudbury Police Service satellite building at 623 Main St.
Several speakers at Wednesday's news conference credited Butcher and cofounder Roberta Heale -- both nurse practitioners -- for their vision in pioneering a model of health care that is catching on throughout the province of Ontario.
The Riverside Drive Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinic is the first nurse-practitioner- led practice in Canada. Since it opened in August 2007, it has acquired a patient base of 2,000 people, none of whom had a family physician.
Last year, then Health Minister George Smitherman announced the province would fund 25 similar clinics, based on the Sudbury one.
John Roininen, with the ministry's Nurse Practitioner Clinics Implementation Branch, told the audience Wednesday that an announcement is expected soon about where the first three of those clinics will be located.
A proposal call for the remaining 22 clinics is expected to go out later in the spring, he said.
It was more than two years ago when Heale and Butcher submitted a proposal for a clinic that would be run by nurse practitioners, assisted in their practice by family physicians and a team of other health professionals.
A novel idea at the time, the women saw the model as a way to put nurse practitioners to work and help thousands of people in Sudbury without a family doctor.
Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas called Heale and Butcher heroes.
"These women were pioneers, they had a vision and they made it happen ... and the dream continues" with the second location, said the NDP's Health and Long-Term Care critic.
Greater Sudbury and the Walden area still need more family doctors, said Gelinas, but a clinic run along "a nursing model" will help meet the health-care needs of people in that part of her riding.
Nurse practitioners tend to spend more time teaching patients, focusing on chronic disease prevention and management, and "empowering them to look after their own health," said Gelinas.
"I guarantee you that the people of Walden will be healthier because these nurse practitioners are here."
Greater Sudbury Mayor John Rodriguez said the city is happy to be a partner in the new clinic by providing space for it to operate.
Greater Sudbury Ward 3 Coun. Jacques Barbeau said the Lively clinic is the envy of his council colleagues, any one of whom would be delighted to have such a clinic in his or her ward.
"What better Christmas gift for the community?" he asked.
The clinics are expected to treat as many as 5,000 patients when both are fully operational. They will be staffed by six nurse practitioners assisted by two family doctors, and will employ a social worker, dietitian and registered nurse, as well as a part-time pharmacist.
For more on Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics, phone 671-1661 or visit their website at www.sdnpc.ca.
Originally published in The Sudbury Star