Medical facility gains national attention
Health: High River receives award for innovation for Charles Clark Medical Centre
By: By Tanya Kostiw
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 06, 2012 01:13 pm
An innovative local project aimed at addressing rural doctor shortages has received national recognition.
The Town of High River has won the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) Willis Award for innovation in the under 20,000 population category for the Charles Clark Medical Centre, a collaboration between the Town, the MD of Foothills and High River family physicians. The medical centre provides new doctors with infrastructure and equipment and physicians working in the facility act as mentors. The Town of High River provided land and servicing work for the facility and the MD funded the construction.
CAMA picked the Town to be the award recipient because the project was so innovative, said CAMA awards committee chair Don MacLellan.
“The Town and the MD and the medical community all coming together to innovatively find a way to make this happen was what really appealed to the awards committee,” he said.
The committee also considers whether the model can be adopted elsewhere, he added.
Dr. Ron Gorsche, one of the centre’s project managers who developed the concept along with Dr. Keith Spackman, thinks it should catch on in other areas and has been contacted by at least eight other interested communities.
The intent behind the project was to attract new physicians to the community, he said, adding they often want to practice with other doctors in an already developed facility.
Physicians in the building pay rent towards the mortgage and because of the reasonable interest rate, costs can remain stable, Gorsche said.
“We can assure the new physicians that you’re not going to be hit with a 20 per cent interest rate in the future,” he said.
The centre is unique because it enables the community to attract new physicians, said Doug Munn, the Town of High River’s community services director, adding it was an interesting project for the Town to take part in.
“We’re very proud of being recognized, especially nationally,” he said.
Munn added it is important for the MD and the group of physicians to also be recognized because the partnership made the project a reality.
The medical centre has been open since November and has been able to attract four new physicians, who split their time between the centre and the hospital. Six other physicians who cover many specialties within the family medicine field such as anesthesia, obstetrics, emergency work, in-patient and long-term care also work at the centre.
The facility has attracted a pharmacist and will soon offer echocardiogram services and mammograms with a machine provided by the Rotary Club of High River. A walk-in clinic run by the Primary Care Network is also being developed and the High River District Heath Care Foundation funded computers for a record system. Also housed in the building are the Parent Link Centre and Family and Community Support Services.
Last fall, the Town and MD received an award of excellence from the Minister of Municipal Affairs for the project.
The MD’s treasurer Bill Robinson dedicated a lot of work to the project, said municipal manager Harry Riva Cambrin.
“We’re certainly excited about the prospects of bringing new physicians into the area,” he said.
The medical centre’s official grand opening will be held June 22. Former prime minister Joe Clark and his brother Peter, whose father the building was named after, will take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony.