Edmonton's first Filipino-owned health clinic set to open

The Medicus Family Health Clinic and Pharmacy is Edmonton’s first Filipino immigrant-owned clinic, opening tomorrow.

'There are a lot Filipinos in this city, and they feel underserved,' says clinic operator

The Medicus Family Health Clinic and Pharmacy is the first Filipino immigrant-owned clinic in Edmonton. (Provided)

Edmonton's first Filipino immigrant-owned health clinic opened its doors Saturday.

The Medicus Family Health Clinic and Pharmacy, a small medical practice in the heart of south Edmonton's Filipino community, was born after Kris Salumbides fielded several requests for a Filipino health care centre.

"I know as a Filipino migrant myself ... that I would be more comfortable talking to a Filipino physician," Salumbides said. "It's nice when they speak our language."

"There are a lot Filipinos in this city, and they feel underserved."

That's why he said the clinic won't turn away any patients, including those who are not yet covered under provincial health care.

Filipinos have a strong culture of health care, Salumbides said. The Philippines has programs to train its own people to work abroad, specifically as personal support workers, physicians and nurses.

Since the clinic's soft launch on June 19, Salumbides said the doctors see at least 45 patients a day, similar to most other clinics in the province.

The Alberta Medical Association recommends physicians see a maximum of six patients per hour, or 48 patients in a day.

Filipinos are the fastest-growing cultural group in the city of Edmonton, with over 36,000 living in city limits, according to Statistics Canada.

Newcomers face barriers to health-care access

There are many barriers limiting newcomers from accessing the right health care in Canada, according to University of Alberta researcher Rhianna Charchuk.

Certain immigrants will have more challenges than others, but the language barrier is a common factor across the board, she said.

"There's just a lot of confusion with how to access the health-care system," she said. "Just trying to figure out how to find a family doctor, where to go." 

Salumbides said having Filipino staff also makes patients more comfortable.

The Canadian Paediatric Society lists a number of other factors that limit newcomers from accessing health care, including poor existing health and a lack of familiarity with the Canadian health-care system.

Charchuk said she's never heard of ethnicity-specific clinics before, but believes it could be a new way to help newcomers in Edmonton going forward.

"I think it's really powerful when a community can help out," she said.  

The current seven-person team at the clinic is not enough to meet the demand, Salumbides said. The clinic is hoping to hire three more physicians — Filipino or not — to the team.