New clinic expected to cut wait times, improve service
Jan 09 2006
A new state-of-the-art medical centre promises to reduce waiting times and improve services for patients, say doctors.
Twenty-two Red Deer doctors are preparing to construct a multimillion-dollar medical centre on the ATCO Gas property in the Cronquist Business Park.
Their goal is to attract more doctors, reduce waiting times and improve accessibility.
“We need to make it easier for the patients. We need space and parking,” said Dr. Joe Hopfner of the Associate Clinic.
The 17 family doctors at the Associate Clinic will move to the Riverlands Medical Centre.
Red Deer’s five orthopedic surgeons �” now in separate offices �” will work under the same roof.
Plans call for a three-storey, 60,000 square-foot building with underground parking and elevators.
Space will be leased for a pharmacy, clinical research, physiotherapy and various tenants.
If city approval is granted, construction could begin this spring and wrap up a year later.
Hopfner said the Associate Clinic on 48th Avenue lacks space, parking and accessibility. It’s less than half the size of the planned medical centre.
Patients, some ill or disabled, often end up parking a block away, then walking and trying to manoeuvre up the stairs.
Part of the problem is the Associate Clinic was constructed as an office building in 1981.
At the time, the doctors were practising in an old grocery store on Ross Street. They wanted to construct their own building, but interest rates shot up.
So they settled for the office building. About a year ago, decided it was finally time to leave.
The clinic needs space to increase the number of doctors to 24 in the next three to five years, said Hopfner.
“Red Deer is growing and we need more doctors. There is a lot of demand.”
The doctors want to modernize, bring in electronic medical records and increase the privacy of patients by offering sound-proof rooms.
“Our building is noisy and you can overhear conversations,” said Hopfner.
Reducing long waiting times is a top goal for the orthopedic surgeons.
People needing hip and knee replacements have waited more than 19 months, from the time they see their family doctor to receive surgery.
“Our waiting lists are long and we have a huge demand. A lot of people are getting surgeries in Edmonton and Calgary,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lance Bredo.
“We hope by changing the way we do business, we will give better service.”
Bredo said the medical centre will provide space for at least three more orthopedic surgeons. The first new surgeon is expected to arrive in Red Deer this spring.
“We are going after the same doctors as Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. If we can offer a state-of-the-art facility, recruiting will be a lot easier,” said Bredo.
Having the doctors in the same facility should increase efficiencies and sharing of information. Surgeons could discuss tough cases and possible solutions, said Bredo.
Space will be built to accommodate a pilot project aimed at reducing wait times for hip and knee surgeries.
Bredo said the doctors don’t know if the provincial government will extend the project, but they have faith.
“It is such a good project. We want to do the right thing,” said Bredo, who helped set up the pilot �” called the Central Alberta Hip and Knee Clinic �” now located in the Medical Dental Building.
The surgeons will also have their own X-ray equipment in the centre. The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s cast clinic, which needed to expand, will also relocate to the centre.
Bredo said financing is in place. The David Thompson Health Region will not provide funding, but it will provide lease payments for operations such as the cast clinic.
Bredo said he doesn’t believe the medical centre will hurt the business at other clinics.
“There is so much business in town. There is no question.”
By andrea miller