Clinic becomes one-stop shop

by Sabine Gibbins

An expansion of Meadow Lake’s primary health care services is just what the doctor ordered.

This is according to the team of health providers who have worked over the past few years to bring a new health care model to the community.

Health care professionals and patients alike celebrated the grand opening of the Primary Health Centre, located at 218 Centre Street, April 20.

“We are celebrating a wonderful improvement which has been long in the making,” said David Fan, CEO of the Prairie North Regional Health Authority.

The Meadow Lake Primary Health Care team now includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, RN/case managers, public health nurses, medical office assistants, mental health professionals, chronic disease educators, a dietician, an exercise therapist, a pharmacist and the clinic manager. The idea to transform the clinic into a primary health care centre was accomplished through a visit to a similar facility in Alaska. It was there Saskatchewan’s minister of health, Don McMorris, Fan and others saw firsthand the improvements which could be made in Meadow Lake.

“This journey has been a collective one,” he added.

Fan said implementing the primary health model of care improves access to health care services by making the right services more readily available, and not necessarily by a physician.

McMorris mentioned how the ministry is continuously looking for ways to improve health care, and Meadow Lake has the opportunity to lead the charge when it comes to providing health services.

“We are always looking for ideas across Canada and the world,” he said. “We need to continue looking at what other jurisdictions are doing.”

But even as the community celebrates the new health service model, some residents continue to express their frustration with the health care system.

Phyllis Blyth has had her own share of frustrating experiences. She said the real problem comes down to management and having a health care professional take the time to diagnose a patient properly.

“It falls back on management and leadership,” Blyth said. “We (the taxpayers) employ them. We just want to be looked after. I strongly feel the majority of doctors have forgotten their code of ethics. Having the clinic as a more family oriented place is not a bad thing, but you have to give the people what they deserve. We have had fewer doctors here (in Meadow Lake) and better organization than we have now. I truly believe it’s the way it’s managed. It’s not a shortage of doctors. You just can’t have a family doctor here in town.”

Dr. Gavin Van de Venter spoke of how the improved health services would be an advantage to area residents.

“We do believe these changes will benefit the health care centre,” he said. “This is an attractive model for communities to work with.”

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