Alberta targets 24 communities for family care clinics
Clinics to offer non-emergency care
More family care clinics will be opening in Alberta after the province identified 24 communities as needing better access to primary health care.
The government will work with each community over the next few months to develop plans for each clinic.
The stand-alone facilities will provide non-emergency services such as treating illnesses, screening, and immunization and will be staffed by health professionals to meet the unique health and social needs of the particular community.
Each clinic is expected to offer same day appointments and extended hours to improve access to health care.
The clinics will ensure "the health-care system is there for Albertans when they need it in the way that they need it and that all Albertans have easy access to primary care close to home wherever their home may be," said Premier Alison Redford. "Too many Albertans have been without it for too long."
Pilot projects for the family care clinics have been running in Edmonton, Calgary and Slave Lake.
The province budgeted $50 million this year to support development of the clinics, some of which will open as soon as this year.
"This is something that is entirely different than what we're seeing anywhere else in the country," Redford said.
The clinics are expected to complement the services provided by the 40 primary-care networks in the province.
Those networks are privately-owned physician offices that receive government funding.
That worries NDP leader Brian Mason, who believes family care clinics can reduce the number of emergency room visits.
"They're building in a massive duplication," he said. "Our view is the family care clinics is the better model. It's more community driven. It operates less on the basis of profit."
Liberal Party Leader Raj Sherman also favours the family care clinic model, but wondered if the province will have to cannibalize other sectors of the health system such as home or palliative care to pay for the clinics.