Creditor protection keeps Manitoba Clinic doors open

Manitoba’s largest private medical clinic is in financial crisis and has been granted creditor protection.

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Manitoba’s largest private medical clinic is in financial crisis and has been granted creditor protection.

The Winnipeg-based Manitoba Clinic will now have to restructure its operations and finances under court supervision.

The medical center hasn’t been able to recruit enough physicians to make ends meet, and part of its recently expanded Sherbrook Street facility is still sitting vacant. It would have to shut down if not for the creditor protection, court documents say.

The clinic, under its parent company Manitoba Clinic Holding Co. Ltd., received a court order Thursday morning that puts a consulting firm (Alvarez & Marsal) in charge of monitoring its business and finances while it undergoes restructuring.

Patient care won’t be affected and daily operations are still business as usual for staff, patients and physicians and other tenants in its building, Manitoba Clinic chief executive officer Keith McConnell said.

The court order allows the clinic to keep up day-to-day operations as normal, he added.

“Our primary concern is ensuring that patients are not disrupted or confused” through this process, McConnell said, emphasizing the clinic continues to care for a large inner-city population and seeking to assure the public they can still book appointments and see its physicians as usual.

Manitoba Clinic applied for and was granted creditor protection Wednesday afternoon in the Court of King’s Bench, citing insolvency.

The financial challenges, according to its court filing, stem from its failure to recruit a full complement of doctors amid physician departures — since 90 per cent of its revenue comes from physicians’ billings to the provincial health department.

The clinic also needed to fill 52,000 square feet of unused space in the Sherbrook Street facility, which underwent an expansion in 2018. Attempts to lease the vacant space and hold two closed sales didn’t solve the issues.

The clinic has been losing money since 2018, court documents state, and by the end of last year, its operating losses totalled more than $8 million.

On Thursday, a provincial government spokesman stated: “The minister of health and the department are aware of financial issues at the privately owned Manitoba Clinic and has engaged in a number of ways to assist the corporation… Our government will work with physicians and staff looking to enter the Manitoba health system for employment or work arrangement opportunities.”

Before seeking court-ordered creditor protection, the clinic tried cutting support staff, raising parking rates, increasing the fees physicians bill for disposable medical supplies and other rates. It also went through public tender processes to contract out some services while trying to attract more doctors.

Manitoba Clinic has been trying to restructure since early 2021; McConnell took over as CEO in late December 2021, court documents show.

The Winnipeg medical centre currently has a roster of 71 physicians and about 170 support staff. Its doctors perform 49,000 medical procedures and log 306,000 patient visits per year, its court filing states.

— with files from Dan Lett

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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