The owner of a medical clinic in Winnipeg's North End is defending one of his doctors, who faces possible suspension over billing issues, while at least one patient says she fears hundreds of vulnerable patients could be left without care.
If Dr. Anton Kloppers of the Four Rivers Medical Clinic is suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, more than 2,000 people would be without a doctor and the clinic would have to shut down, says clinic owner Daren Jorgenson.
Jorgensen said the issue facing Kloppers involves billing practices, but he said the physician did nothing wrong.
"I wouldn't be asking for light to be shone on this issue if I felt I did anything fraudulent, or any of these doctors did anything fraudulent," Jorgensen told CBC News on Tuesday.
At issue is billing and the use of Telehealth, which uses video technology to connect doctors with patients who cannot go to a clinic..
At Four Rivers, staff send a nurse practitioner out on house calls with equipment in hand, looping in a physician when necessary.
It is alleged that Kloppers billed about $300,000 to Manitoba Health for house calls where the technology wasn't used, and the patients were treated by only the nurse practitioner.
Kloppers faces a possible six-month suspension. Jorgenson said the doctor has already paid back a portion of the money.
Another doctor from the same clinic, Dr. Richard Letkeman, was ordered to pay back almost $40,000 to Manitoba Health earlier this year, after it was revealed that he billed for patients that he did not see, but were seen instead seen by the clinic's nurse practitioner.
Jorgenson said he's challenging the way the province wants doctors to bill for the use of nurse practitioners.
'We need him,' says patient
Carol Hjorting, a patient of Kloppers, said he told her during a recent appointment that she should seek another physician because he is going to be suspended.
"I just was so upset and shocked and I [said], 'This is wrong,'" she told CBC News.
"Personally, I think this is ridiculous. And we need him."
Hjorting said she bounced between numerous walk-in medical clinics before Kloppers took her and her husband in as patients, along with hundreds of vulnerable people in the area.
"He is their medical advocate, and they need that," she said, adding that the doctor provides excellent care.
"Sitting in this office, there are people from all walks of life that come into here as a patient, and some of those people don't have a voice."
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba has declined to comment specifically on Kloppers's case.
A Manitoba Health spokesperson told CBC News that the case has been referred to Winnipeg police.
Despite the allegations that have surfaced, Jorgenson said he's not worried about his clinic's reputation.
"If patients come to the clinic and get good service and they love their doctor and they don't get bounced around to walk-in clinics, I'm not worried," he said.