Edmonton's first private fertility clinic to open this spring

Concerns about the arrival of a privately run fertility clinic in Edmonton are unfounded, according to the doctor leading the expansion.

Dr. Ken Seethram says new centre will ensure timely access to reproductive care

The clinic says it will offer a full suite of services including in vitro fertilization and genetic screening. (Radio-Canada)

Concerns about the arrival of a privately run fertility clinic in Edmonton are unfounded, according to the doctor leading the expansion.

Dr. Ken Seethram, with the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine, said the lone public clinic currently operating in Edmonton has been unable to keep up with demand, and some patients have been left waiting up to a year for services.

During a Tuesday morning interview on CBC's Edmonton AM, Seethram said his clinic will help ease the burden at the Royal Alexandra Hospital centre, and ensure timely access to reproductive care.

"We have a long history of treating patients of Edmonton because of access issues," he said. "We treat up to 60 to 70 patients from Edmonton each year because of those issues."

Sandra Azocar, the executive director Friends of Medicare, first raised concerns about the clinic on Monday. She said the new centre will leave the public clinic fighting for limited resources, including government funding and specialists trained in the field. 

"The physicians that are there (at the public clinic) have been strongly urged to apply at this new clinic, as well as the nurses and front-line staff," said Azocar.

"Any time this happens we lose an incredible amount of resources that take years to develop in such a specific area."  

The PCRM, based in Burnaby, B.C., will open the new clinic in Edmonton this spring.  The new facility, at 9888 Jasper Ave., will offer a wide range of fertility treatments, Seethram said, including in-vitro fertilization and genetic screening.

"We're hoping that after we open we'll shorten the wait list in Alberta," he said.

"Whether or not we recruit expertise from the other clinic remains to be seen. Our goal is just to build an excellent clinic, with excellent success rates."

The final pricing for the new clinic has not been set, but Seethram expects it to be competitive with the two other clinics in Alberta, where a single round of IVF treatments can run up to $15,000.

The province covers the costs of tests and consultations for fertility care, but patients must pay for the actual treatments — regardless of whether they are delivered through public or private facilities.

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