New Health Services by fall

By Natalie Sit

By September, students will see a Health Services run by a community health provider rather than the university.

The University of Calgary is awaiting proposals from several shortlisted candidates that will expand on the providers’ ideas. Associate Vice-President Student Affairs Peggy Patterson dismissed rumours the university was outsourcing Health Services to a walk-in clinic. The partner would provide appo- intment-based care to faculty and staff, with preference for students. The new setup will not cost students any extra money as all covered services are paid by Alberta Health Care.

Patterson points to the university’s inexperience with managing medical clinics. They felt a partner could improve organization while still providing quality health care.

"The goal is to not generate revenue," said Patterson. "What we’ve been doing here is to break even. A portion of money the university gets for educational expenses was going to provide health care. And it didn’t make any sense."

Another positive move Patterson sees is the health care provider’s interest in approaching the doctors currently working at Health Services. Doctors and some staff are not university employees and are on contract.

"The dilemma is right now all of the contracts for all of the health practitioners expire on the 31 of August," said Patterson. "So what has to happen is a negotiation between the health care practitioners and service provider to see whether they will provide service."

The new clinic will be the main cornerstone of a proposed Health and Wellness Centre that would share a reception area, bookkeeping and space with other proposed services like optometry, naturopathy and dentistry. Patterson thinks a natural spot would be the third floor of MacEwan Student Centre in Health Services current space.

Students’ Union VP Operations and Finance Gavin Preston thinks it’s a good deal for students as well as the SU with regards to space swaps in MacEwan Student Centre.

"The space is poorly used," said Preston. "There’s a meeting room up there that’s pretty empty. Maybe we could get the University Club in a space swap. There’s a lot that’s up in the air."

As part of the three-year contract with a health service provider, the university will monitor the quality of the student experience at the end of each year.

"I think in the end, it could offer… high-quality care but ensuring that it’s operated in a cost-efficient way and managed well," said Patterson. "I think sometimes community partners bring some skills to management of these facilities that we, frankly, haven’t had in the past."

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