Press Releases

February 22, 2011

Unique teaching clinic opens in city’s downtown

‘Northern Connection’ to serve patients from remote communities, military families and medical students

Winnipeg – A ‘one-of-a-kind’ clinic designed primarily to serve the primary care needs of Northern residents while in Winnipeg was officially opened today by Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald.

Referred patients - initially from half a dozen northern and remote communities - will receive treatment at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Northern Connection Medical Centre. These may be patients who just had surgery, but require more follow-up before returning home; they may be in Winnipeg to see specialists, but have other health-care needs that also need to be addressed; or they may have been referred to the clinic from their home community to access health care services not available there.

The centre – with an operating budget of $1.2 million – is supported by Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg and affiliated with the University of Manitoba and is part of an innovative program designed to increase the number of primary care physicians in Manitoba’s northern and remote communities.

The centre will be home base for first-year residents enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine’s Northern and Remote Stream Family Medicine program while they are completing their required rotations in the city. Second-year residents will complete four months of training in Winnipeg, with the remainder of their residency training in northern and remote locations.

Minister Oswald noted a number of benefits from the centre’s model of care. “Patients from up north who need primary care while in the city will be able to access it more easily,” she said. “Medical residents with an interest in working in remote and northern communities are being trained and getting experience dealing with patients from those communities and are being encouraged to continue working with these communities once they finish their residency.”

Most physicians working at the centre do also travel up north regularly to provide care in remote communities. Dr. Catherine Cook, WRHA Vice President of Population & Aboriginal Health, noted that means that when their patients are referred to Winnipeg, there will be a greater continuum of care than was previously available.

“This is another way in which the Winnipeg Health Region is here for aboriginal patients,” said Dr. Cook, also Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis & Inuit Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba. “We continue to provide aboriginal language interpreters, discharge planners, and traditional ceremonies throughout the health region and with this specialized centre, we expand accessible services for our aboriginal patients coming from other communities.”

The Northern Connection Medical Centre will provide primary care to third and fourth year medical students currently without a family physician and will also provide interim primary care to military families of soldiers based in Winnipeg until Access St. James opens.

“Many people have been involved in the development of this centre. We are all pleased with the outcome – a clinic that will provide a unique learning experience to medical residents and accessible service to our aboriginal patients visiting from northern communities,” Dr. Jamie Boyd, Medical Director Family Medicine/Primary Care Program WRHA and head of the University’s Department of Family Medicine said. “It’s also important and wonderful that medical students studying here who may not have a family physician can access the care that they need.”

For more information please contact:

Heidi Graham
Director, Media Relations
Tele: (204) 926-7178
Cell: (204) 223-9089

Ilana Simon
Director of Communications & Marketing
Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba
Tel: (204) 789-3427
Cell: (204) 295-6777

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