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Manitoba Clinic losing more docs, deal critical

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Doctors are fleeing Manitoba’s largest private medical clinic as the desperate facility continues to seek provincial help to avoid financial collapse.

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Doctors are fleeing Manitoba’s largest private medical clinic as the desperate facility continues to seek provincial help to avoid financial collapse.

Manitoba Clinic will lose 20 physicians between now and April, leaving only 36 expected to remain in practice there, according to the first report from the insolvency firm that’s been court-ordered to monitor the Winnipeg clinic’s financial operations during ongoing creditor-protection proceedings.

There is a critical need for the clinic to continue trying to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the provincial government, and to retain its doctors, the monitor’s report states.

Manitoba Clinic will lose 20 physicians between now and April, leaving only 36 expected to remain in practice there, according to a new report. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The private clinic is still trying to rent out its unused hospital-grade space to the public health-care system and is willing to sell the entire building (790 Sherbrook St.), the report states.

Creditor protection is currently shielding the Manitoba Clinic from financial collapse, and the two corporations that own the clinic are hoping to secure a long-term lease from the government for use of turn-key space for X-rays, medical exams and offices. But no deal has been reached, despite a suggestion the space could have been used to make a dent in Manitoba’s surgical and diagnostic backlog.

Last summer, clinic representatives were discussing with leaders of the province’s surgical backlog task force the idea of using vacant space at the clinic to perform endoscopies, conduct X-rays and build four more treatment rooms, according to the report.

After creditor protection was granted in the Court of King’s Bench, clinic representatives wrote to the provincial government asking for help. In mid-December, they met with the deputy health minister and 20 senior executives from health agencies, including the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Shared Health, Health Sciences Centre and CancerCare Manitoba, who toured the 3 1/2 floors of available space.

“The monitor and CEO encouraged the various health agencies that time was of the essence. If they believed the clinic could assist with their agency on space shortage or services, they should provide a proposal to the clinic for consideration,” the report states. As of late last week, there were still no proposals on the table, although the monitor wrote discussions were positive.

The task force “was reviewing an application from the Manitoba Clinic for women’s health services that was withdrawn due to clinician departures. The Manitoba Clinic was awarded contracts under the request for supply arrangements for endoscopy (2,800 procedures in 2022-23) and Holter monitors (2,100 procedures in 2022-23),” a government spokesman said Monday evening.

“Discussions between Manitoba Clinic and various health stakeholders… are ongoing.”

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he’s concerned about the departures of 20 doctors from the clinic, because it serves a “high-needs” population in the inner city, and it offers primary care close to HSC, Manitoba’s largest hospital.

“Which means we should be thinking about this facility as part of our overall strategy to deliver health care to people who come to the HSC,” Kinew said, adding the province should devote its full attention to trying to keep the clinic open.

Manitoba Clinic chief executive officer Keith McConnell did not comment, and several clinic physicians have also declined to speak to reporters.

The private clinic is trying to rent out its unused hospital-grade space to the public health-care system and is willing to sell the entire building, according to the report. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

As part of the financial restructuring, one of the monitor’s tasks is figuring out how much space the clinic actually needs.

The Manitoba Clinic moved into a brand-new, 133,000-square-foot building on Sherbrook Street in 2018, but it has never filled all of the available space and has been losing money since. The clinic is the building’s largest tenant, with a monthly rent of $389,000, and 90 per cent of its revenue comes from physicians billing the provincial Health Department for their services.

There were once more than 70 physicians practising at the clinic.

“It is critical for (the clinic’s) ongoing business that everyone understands that patients can continue to book appointments and procedures with their doctors in the usual manner,” the monitor’s report states.

The report was issued as required in advance of an upcoming court hearing Wednesday. The clinic is asking the court to extend its current timelines and to grant permission to sell off unused assets.

katie.may@winnipegfreepress.com

Monitor’s report

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

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

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