A primary health care innovation project within the Sunrise Health Region will focus on patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“At the clinic in Yorkton and the satellite in Foam Lake, patients will experience a variety of services including individual and shared medical visits with a team of health experts. Patients will learn how to manage their chronic condition from the team members and from the experiences of other patients with similar chronic conditions,” explained a release circulated at a press conference in Yorkton Monday.
The project is part of an initiative announced in May by the provincial government to establish eight primary health care innovation sites in the province.
Greg Kobylka, chairperson of the Sunrise Health Region said the provincial initiative “will provide a new foundation to health care in Saskatchewan.”
Sunrise president and CEO Suann Laurent said the innovation initiatives have a common theme of “having the patient at the centre of everything we do.”
Laurent said the new centre will work toward providing the support for patients “to self-manage their chronic conditions.”
In March, “team building began with experts discussing the chronic disease management role of the family medicine, nursing, pharmacy, optometry, nutrition, diabetes education, social work, physical and occupational therapy, exercise therapy and mental health,” detailed the release.
Dr. Phillip Fourie, a family physician who has championed the collaborative health approach of the local initiative said it is a concept that makes sense.
“I’m confident that together we can guide provincial health care,” he said.
The concept is of creating a team approach to health care by establishing a clinic that while having doctors would include nurses, dietitians, physical therapists and others, who combine their expertise to better guide patients.
Fourie said it is a design where all the professionals “work harmoniously together to improve patient access and care.”
The local physician likened it to a hockey team with each member having a role within that team so that a goaltender would not play forward, leaving that role to others. He said “it’s a collective unit working together to achieve a certain goal.”
The beneficiary is the patient who has one stop for varied medical advice. Fourie said the clinic will be designed with meeting rooms allowing a patient to meet with a team of professionals should varied issue require broad support.
It will also allow a group of patients with a similar need to meet with the health professionals so that they share knowledge, he said.
“It’s truly patient centred health care delivery,” said Fourie.
Fourie said the system will also be flexible enough “to adapt to unique circumstances,” which will make the model only easily picked up by other communities which may have their own specific requirements.
With that in mind the clinic which is beginning the final design process will be modular in its approach, so that a smaller centre such as Preeceville could adapt it to their needs, as could a larger centre such as Saskatoon, said Fourie. The idea is to have one architectural design done which can easily transfer to other communities.
Mayor James Wilson said health care was a priority established when the city held its vision process with community leaders, so it was a natural to be involved in the discussions “not as a leader” but as one sitting at the table planning the project.
As such the City will also be a partner in a portion of the costs of the actual clinic, teaming with Fourie, three other doctors, and potentially of funding sources.
Fourie said if the design process goes well they could be building by as early as July, and at least by fall.
In the interim the actual clinic team will be established and begin operating as a unit as they await the completion of the building.
In addition to the four doctor partners, Fourie said the clinic will be built with additional capacity to allow the addition of “like-minded” physicians dedicated to the collaborative approach to health care.
Through the provincial initiative the centre will also have positions for family physicians in residence. Fourie said initially it was said there would be four residents, but that could grow to eight.
Having a resident program for family physicians is a positive step, said Fourie. He said when students take their residence in a small urban or rural setting they are more inclined to return to such places when establishing their practices.