There is good news for people living in Simcoe County who don't have a family doctor: a nurse practitioner clinic in Oro-Medonte is expanding.

Andrew McNeill says he has a lot less stress these days, on and off the ice. Now that he has a family doctor for the first time in almost a decade, he can focus on hockey and his family.

“It’s hard because you have to go to the walk-in clinic or the RVH and end up sitting there for hours upon end because you don’t have an appointment,” he says.

For years people have been forced to turn to the emergency room at RVH or walk-in clinics, or one of two dozen nurse practitioner-led clinics scattered around the province.

The Huronia Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic in Oro-Medonte opened in 2011 and is the first of its kind in Simcoe County. And on Friday, the shovels went into the ground outside the clinic for an expansion that will more than double its size.

Right now the clinic serves about 700 patients, but once the new wing is built, it will be able to handle more than 3,000.

Barb Sbrolla is a nurse practitioner at the clinic. She says it will offer all kinds of services, from colon cancer screening to monitoring blood pressure to giving immunizations.

“The need is very great in this particular area," she says. "We’re a rather rural setting so we’re surrounded by communities in Barrie, Orillia and Midland. But in this particular triangle, there are no doctors taking patients.”

More staff will be hired, including at least one more nurse practitioner to handle more patients.

Construction at the clinic is expected to be finished by the end of the year.