Five years after it was conceived, and a year after construction began, the Access to Care project has altered both the face and nature of care at Seven Oaks General Hospital.
As part of the $7.8 million project, the hospital added Prairie Trail at the Oaks, an integrated medical clinic meant to address a high demand for general practitioners and family doctors in the area.
The upgrades also include the addition of a 6,000-sq. ft., two-storey atrium to the hospital’s main entrance and 14,000 square feet of interior improvements, including a new information desk, a new, naturally lit food court, gift shop and pharmacy.
Hospital and government officials, including Kildonan MLA Dave Chomiak, officially opened the new section during an Oct. 4 ceremony.
Carrie Solmundson, the hospital’s president and chief operating officer, said the idea for the clinic originated at the Wellness Institute, Seven Oaks’ medical fitness, rehabilitation and community health facility. She said the aim of the clinic is to more closely connect primary care physicians and "supports for lifestyle change and chronic disease management and prevention."
Solmundson said patients will benefit from having more follow-up care opportunities in north Winnipeg.
Dr. Jamie Boyd, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s regional medical director of family medicine and primary care programs, said the hope is that the new clinic will foster a greater "continuity of care."
Boyd said the new clinic will improve the transfer and sharing of information, and ultimately mean "better and more timely transfer of care."
"Many community physicians are not ‘linked to the system,’ " Boyd said, adding the transfer of information from hospitals to community care centres — such as ACCESS Seven Oaks — is "not as good as it should be."
Boyd said plans call for the establishment of an integrated, citywide primary care network between Winnipeg’s six primary care centres — Concordia, Grace, Victoria, St. Boniface and Seven Oaks hospitals and the Health Sciences Centre — and the areas they serve.
Prairie Trail at the Oaks will operate as a private clinic owned an operated by its practicing physicians and will bill the province for the services it provides.
Solmundson said there is a recognition that resident physicians "who train at our hospital would be willing to stay and practice in north Winnipeg," if there is an opportunity.
When fully operational, the clinic will have up to seven full-time physicians. Two will join the clinic this fall and more are expected to follow, according to Seven Oaks General Hospital Foundation officials.
The recent improvements to front lobby of Seven Oaks are the first upgrades to it since the hospital opened in 1981.
One of the primary purposes of the improvements is to allow more natural light into the hospital. The previous front entrance was "dark and crowded," Solmundson said.