Medical clinic brings three more doctors to community
City's newest clinic opened Wednesday
Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 06:00 am
Accepting new patients:
The city’s newest family practice opened its doors to new patients Wednesday.
Rivercrest Medical Clinic, located at 367 St. Albert Trail in the Rivercrest Plaza, is in the space formerly occupied by The Rink Sports Grill.
“We’re planning to have it function as a multi-disciplinary family practice,” said clinic business manager Houssam Sassi.
The owners of the private clinic also own Jasper Avenue Medical Clinic in Edmonton.
The clinic will be staffed with three family physicians, and there is talk of bringing on specialists such as a pediatrician in the near future, added Sassi.
Space for an in-house pharmacy has also been constructed, but is still vacant for the time being.
The former location of The Rink was leased in April and has been undergoing renovations since.
The 4,400 square foot space has been refurbished to include 12 exam rooms, six physician offices and two treatment rooms.
“The capacity and the potential here is significant. Primary care in general will be enhanced,” said Sassi.
“People are letting us know there is a need for more doctors in St. Albert.”
Rivercrest Medical Clinic is the second medical clinic in St. Albert to open this year. The McKenney Medicentre opened in January.
The practice is planning to join the St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network (PCN), said Sassi.
There are currently 61 doctors in St. Albert associated with the PCN, excluding part-time and temporary (locum) physicians. The number does not include the handful of doctors who operate private practices and those with the Tudor Glen and McKenney Medicentres.
The number of doctors practicing in St. Albert is increasing, said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
“To be able to see our numbers increase – into the sixties – is very important to us,” he remarked.
No magic number
More physicians in the city does not necessarily mean better access to health care, said Dr. Darryl LaBuick, president of the St. Albert and Sturgeon PCN.
Having family doctors linked to a primary care network – with other specialists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers and mental health professionals – is more effective than flying solo, he explained.
LaBuick referred to the concept of the “Patient Medical Home” model that has been adopted by The College of Family Physicians of Canada. The goal is to provide comprehensive, continuing care to patients via family doctors working in health care teams.
“Having another doctor in town is good, having another doctor in town that is linked to a medical home and team-based care is much more vital,” said LaBuick.
As for the number of family doctors in St. Albert, it’s good compared to other communities in the province, he said.
“We have adequate physician supply compared to other communities, we’re not that far off in terms of what we need.”
LaBuick couldn’t put a specific number on the number of physicians the city does need, because there is no magic number.
The number of individual patients a physician can manage is referred to as “panel size” and it ranges widely. The average panel size for a full-time primary care physician in the U.S. is about 2,300, cited a national survey of physician, patient and practice characteristics in 2005.
Determining an appropriate number of patients to take on and maintain is a fine balance between supply of health-care services and appointments and demand for them, stated a paper published in Family Practice Management Journal in 2007.
Panels that are too large can result in long wait times, shorter appointments and fragmented patient care. Panels too small can result in the practice not being able to keep a roof over their head.
Patient load is also affected by fee-for-service, the number and expertise of those on the health-care team, demographics of the patient population (patients with multiple chronic conditions are more complicated to handle) as well as physician demographics.
In April, The College of Family Physicians of Canada released a guide to “panel identification” for primary care providers in Alberta.
The St. Albert & Sturgeon PCN is working to implement the report’s recommendations in order to understand who their patients are and how to help them better, said LaBuick.