New North Country Neurology patients will be able to get an initial appointment with a neurologist in less than a month as the practice expands.
The Washington Street offices will be expanded from about 3,600 square feet to nearly 10,000 square feet to accommodate two new neurologists with various neurology sub-specialties who will join the practice in July 2013.
With Fort Drum people coming in, there was more pressure on the practice for more providers, said Dr. Abdul Latif, a neurologist who owns the practice at 1340 Washington St. With all the troops coming back, weve seen more patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a lot of Army guys with injuries to the neck and back.
Throughout the past 18 years of practicing in Watertown, Dr. Latif said his practice has treated more than 36,000 new patients for a variety of diseases and diagnoses, including chronic neck and back pain, migraines, strokes, seizures, epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders, Lou Gehrigs disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, peripheral nerve disorders and damage and sleep disorders. Currently the practice has as many as 15,000 patients, who are seen by Dr. Latif, neurologist Dr. Mohsin Ali and physicians assistant Lisa Trickey.
Dr. Latif said the appointment wait time for new patients is four to six weeks.
For the expansion to occur, the existing house next door at 1346 Washington St. will be demolished. One-third, or 2,000 square feet, of the expansion will be dedicated to a sleep lab.
Dr. Ali is a sleep specialist, Dr. Latif said. Itll be similar to the one Samaritan has, but everything here will be under one roof.
He said the expansions groundbreaking will occur sometime this fall and should be completed in early 2013.
Relocating to a new space or constructing a building elsewhere to accommodate everything wasnt an option, Dr. Latif said. He paid $700,000 to build the existing structure in 2002 after he saw the need to expand from an office at 629 Washington St. he then shared with neurologists Dr. John Krawchenko and Dr. Michael P. Owen.
This is a central location to the hospital, so that helps, Dr. Latif said. We (also) have plans for a stroke center in Watertown and are collaborating with the hospital.
The stroke center would be housed at the hospital, he said, and hospital beds would be required.
Dr. Latif said the total $1.2 million expansion will hopefully ease the burden of patients who have to travel outside of the north country for their neurology needs.
Expansion plans were first presented to the city Planning Board earlier this month by Dr. Latif and Michael E. Lundy, CEO of Lunco Corp. The expansion is being designed and built by LUNCO, Carthage.
Mr. Lundy said LUNCO designed and built the current building. Our primary business is design-to-build, he said. Doctors are very busy, and to go out and deal with permits is difficult for them.
Mr. Lundy said he handles all of that and is working with the city on jumping through a few hoops to move the process forward. Parking will have to be reconfigured, Mr. Lundy said, as zoning laws require 48 parking spaces. Only 38 are proposed.
While you need parking for the sleep lab, you dont need parking for the same people, Mr. Lundy said. Some (patients) are at night and some are at day, but (parking) doesnt meet the zoning law, which goes on total use of the building.
He said he hopes an appeal will fix that issue and the expansion will move forward as planned.