PNRHA takes over clinic

by Phil Ambroziak

The Prairie North Regional Health Authority is helping to lighten the load on Meadow Lake and area doctors.

Earlier this year, PNRHA assumed operations at the Meadow Lake Primary Health Centre, a building they already owned but a facility that was managed by local physicians.

“The clinic downtown was owned by Dr. Jake Letkeman, Dr. Merv Johnson and Dr. Peter Kapusta,” explained Dr. Gavin Van de Venter, the clinic’s current chief of staff. “Other doctors came to work here, but no one else ever bought in.”

In 2009, Prairie North purchased the building, but the doctors on staff at the time continued to both provide care for patients and to run the business and administration side of the health centre. Eventually, however, this proved to be too much responsibility.

“It became non-viable for us to run the clinic,” Van de Venter noted. “It was too expensive, so we asked the health region if they’d take over. They already owned the building and they have better resources than we do – things like a human resources department and people who specialize in different administrative areas.”

Vikki Smart, vice-president of primary health services with PNRHA agreed it was a good fit for Prairie North to take control of the facility.

“It was initially a request made by the physicians,” Smart said. “We took it under consideration and later resolved we wanted to be able to help the doctors with their work.”

Van de Venter said being a doctor is already more than a full-time job without having to deal with administration and staffing issues.
“It just made things too stressful and too time consuming,” he added.

Smart agreed.

“That’s exactly it,” she noted. “They’re health care providers and their focus should be on health care. But, it’s been difficult for them because they’ve been busy running the business end of things.”

PNRHA took over the operation of the clinic several months ago and Van de Venter said the transition has since resulted in a major difference for both doctors and patients.

“It means we now spend less time in meetings and it’s opened up more time for us to see patients,” he said. “Personally, our quality of life is much better too because we have less stress, we don’t have to worry about paying bills and we don’t have to deal with union matters. From a patient perspective, people won’t really see much of a difference when they visit the clinic other than having a greater opportunity of getting an appointment with a doctor.”

Smart, meanwhile, said the clinic is a very big project to run.

“Meadow Lake is quite complex in terms of the number of services offered there,” she said. “It’s not just a matter of booking appointments to see the doctor. Now, by working together, things will be much more efficient for our patients.”

Van de Venter concluded by stating how pleased he is with PNRHA’s decision to oversee day-to-day operations at the facility.

“I wish the public would give the region more credit for the work they do – they deserve it,” he said.

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