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Norwalk Hospital Plans Care Center in New Canaan

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Town residents in need of emergency medical services may soon be able to get it closer to home.

Norwalk Hospital plans to convert the former Rugged Bear children’s clothing store on East Avenue into a medical office building. Rugged Bear closed all of its locations last spring.

Jim Haynes, executive director of facilities operations at Norwalk Hospital, said the 4,100-square-foot space will be home to an urgent care center where patients can come in without an appointment, an OB/GYN group and a rotation of subspecialty physicians, including pulmonologists, general surgeons and digestive specialists. Norwalk Hospital already has an OB/GYN office in town.

“It’s based on the community need,” Haynes said. “New Canaan has a community need for access (to medical services). We’re trying to bring the medical facilities to the patient population.”

Norwalk Hospital’s plans come on the heels of Stamford Hospital purchase of a pair of buildings on Grove Street last February for more than $6 million. No specific plans have been made for those buildings, but officials say they will likely be used as a satellite medical center.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved Norwalk Hospital’s plan for the medical facility last week. No re-zoning was necessary because such a medical facility is allowed in the town’s business zone. Haynes says the hospital still needs a building permit. If all goes as expected, the facility will open late next spring. “We’re focused on having it all consolidated for residents,” Haynes said.

Judy Bentley, chairwoman of the town’s Phase III Senior Housing and Health Care Committee, likes Norwalk Hospital’s plan for a local clinic as a way of adding a service for seniors and other residents who may not be keen on traveling far out of town just for treatments. Plus, she said, emergency room costs can be pricey.

“Having this in the community is great. I know a lot of seniors will be happy to have services like that,” Bentley said.

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