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This article was published 17/10/2014 (1007 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A family of philanthropists who plans to donate millions of dollars to a London, Ont., sports medicine facility swooped into Winnipeg on a private jet Friday to tour the Pan Am Clinic, a place it considers the best of its kind in the country.
The family brought with it a team of doctors from London's Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic, the clinic to which they plan to donate.
Dr. Robert Litchfield, an orthopedic surgeon and medical director for Fowler Kennedy, said he has followed Pan Am's progress "with envy" through the years. He hopes to emulate Pan Am at his London clinic.
"I think you've done a fantastic job of creating a critical mass of talented people all in the same building," said Litchfield during his Pan Am tour. The public facility is a primary-care sports clinic that also offers MRI imaging, day surgery, physiotherapy and a minor injuries clinic, as well as academic research.
"As far as I know, this is the only place in Canada that has all those services in one location."
The Pan Am Clinic is a public facility, operated by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority but run using a "business approach," said Pan Am chief operating officer Dr. Wayne Hildahl. He founded the private clinic in 1979 before he sold it to Gary Doer's NDP government two decades later.
"There was no sport medicine back in that time. I just started this clinic on a whim," said Hildahl, who is proud the London clinic he tried to emulate years ago when creating Pan Am is now turning around and trying to emulate his vision.
"We are very, very successful at what we do," said Hildahl of his now 80,000-square-foot facility located in River Heights near the Pan Am Pool. He said the clinic's public-private mix is what makes Pan Am successful and constantly evolving.
In September, the Pan Am Clinic opened a pediatric concussion centre at the MTS Iceplex that is now seeing about 30 patients a week.
Litchfield said Pan Am's successes have made him re-evaluate his own clinic. "The minor-injuries clinic is a huge advantage for the public. They don't have to sit in line with all the other patients in emergency rooms -- with all the other patients with more complicated problems that do need a hospital."
Litchfield ended up in Winnipeg Friday after he approached his potential donors -- patients of his clinic -- explaining his vision for clinic expansion.
"They kindly offered to fly us in here for convenience," he said. "We're really selling to them the vision of where we want to go. I use the Pan Am as an example of where we want to go."
One of the donors said she and her family prefer to take a hands-on approach when deciding where to contribute sizable amounts of their money.
"I think it's important... if you're going to be donating, to be part of what you're going to be building," said one of the London donors, who preferred to remain anonymous.
She said she and her family are sports enthusiasts who understand the need for specialized sports-injury treatment.
She said her family has made a couple of donations to London's Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic in the past, but they were "smaller amounts."
"If we did move forward with this, it would kind of be on a different level."
She and her team planned to stay in Winnipeg for the day, attend a Jets game and fly back to London immediately after.