By Manal Sheikh
The new South Health Campus hospital in Calgary officially opened its first phase on September 6. It will now be accepting patients for family clinics and diagnostic imaging.
It will be the biggest hospital in Alberta and is expected to be fully functional by the end of 2013.
The $1.3 billion facility is also home to a family medicine teaching centre, the third in Calgary alongside the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre and the Sunridge Family Medicine Teaching Centre.
There is a high demand for family doctors in Alberta — the new hospital has nine family doctors along with six family medicine residents and the capacity to take on 4,000 new patients.
The campus will be a training facility for University of Calgary medicine residents.
Premier Alison Redford and U of C president Elizabeth Cannon were in attendance at the opening of the first phase.
“These are the first of many milestones that will be celebrated here at the South Health Campus,” said Redford at the opening, according to a U of C press release. “The South Health Campus is already enhancing the healthcare system in Calgary and southern Alberta by providing new capacity to diagnostic imaging and access to family doctors.”
The U of C’s involvement with the new facility and the teaching clinic helps residents of the family medicine program get first-hand training and serve the clinic’s patients.
Newly graduated doctors are not licensed to practice on their own before they enrol in a two-year residency.
“Along the way, patients have the opportunity to help train future doctors by allowing family medicine residents, supervised by fully-qualified doctors, to participate in their care,” said Cannon at the opening.
First-year resident in the family medicine program at the South Health Campus Ermin Nath said the family medicine clinic is beneficial for residents and patients.
“We talk to the patients and get to know their information, anything specific that they bring up. We then go back to the staff, who are family doctors, and discuss the case with them to come up with a solution or diagnosis,” said Nath. “When we come back in, the staff comes in too, and we discuss the patient’s condition together. The patient is always under the care of their actual family doctor, but we also get the opportunity to see how it works, and to practice ourselves.”
Nath said there are numerous benefits to the residency program.
“There is extra time that we can spend with the patient that a regular family medicine clinic can’t provide. Since there are more eyes on one case at a time, we are more thorough than most clinics,” said Nath.
He said the new facility has up-to-date literature and technology to make the learning process easier for new doctors.
“There is continuity in this program. Residents build relationships with the patients, get the feel of it, so when they start their own practices, they could very likely have some of the same patients they treated at the teaching clinic,” said Nath.
The emergency department is expected to open in spring 2013. Nath said she is excited about the new health centre.
“The most notable thing about this hospital is that it’s our generation’s healthcare, our generation’s doctors, our generation’s expectations on what we want from our medical system,” said Nath. “Everything in this hospital that we have designed has been for our patients. It’s a patient-centre care, meaning that we put the patient in the centre of the system.”