One-stop health care
Edmonton Clinic will usher in radical changes to patient care, medical education
Jodie Sinnema, The Edmonton Journal
Construction is set to begin on "Mayo North," the biggest, most expensive medical-education clinic in Edmonton's history that will revolutionize patient care and the way health professionals are trained.
When the $909-million
Edmonton Clinic is complete in 2011, 800 new training spots will open for nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists and other health-care workers, all of whom will be trained together as they treat patients in a clinical setting.
The clinic will house all diagnostic and day-clinic services currently at the adjacent University and Stollery Children's hospitals, freeing up room there for another 140 beds.
Patients with chronic and complex care needs heading to those day clinics will notice the biggest difference. Someone coming from Grande Prairie will no longer have to make repeat visits to the clinic to see four or five different specialists for blood work, X-rays, diagnosis, treatment, then drug plan.
Instead, all those appointments will be scheduled on one day and the patient's care plan will be created by an interdisciplinary team with trainees listening in.
Doctors will work and learn with pharmacists, dentists, nutritionists, physiotherapists and nurse practitioners in a collaborative working environment. Nowhere else in the country is this being done, said University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera.
"There are no joint courses offered, no other clinical programs in which you have all the trainees working together on a single patient," Samarasekera said at Monday's groundbreaking of the
Edmonton Clinic on 114th Street west of the University Hospital.
She said the usual approach would be to build a separate hospital where doctors are trained by other physicians, and nurses by other nurses.
The Edmonton Clinic is a radically different model where surgeons will be trained with surgical nurses and others.
"That we don't have in this country anywhere," Samarasekera said. "No other province has the resources to dream this big and that's what is exciting about it."
Sheila Weatherill, president and CEO of Capital Health, said, "It will transform Edmonton. ... Think of it as a one-stop approach -- what is sometimes referred to as the 'Mayo Clinic' approach because they, we believe, are the best in the world in thinking of what will make sense for the patient and his or her family."
Weatherill said patient rooms in the new clinic will be larger so patients can take family members to appointments. Patients in rural areas will be able to get care long-distance through technology and video links. Electronic charts will replace paper charts and will allow rural patients to go online to check their appointment schedule or test results from home.
"It's a concept that many in other provinces can follow," Premier Ed Stelmach said. "This model promises to be the best."
"This facility will be a beacon of innovation in Edmonton, in Alberta, across Canada and North America for many years," said Health Minister Dave Hancock.
The new out-patient clinics will manage one million patient visits each year, up from 509,000 currently.
Staffing such growth is hard to imagine in today's environment. Capital Health is closing 100 funded beds each day because it can't find enough nurses to staff them, even after staff returned from summer holidays.
"When it's in the neighbourhood of 10, 20, 30 bed closures, that's the nature of normal friction," said Steve Buick, spokesman for Capital Health. "One hundred is a concern for us. We're obviously working to get them opened as soon as possible."
Buick said those beds should be opened in about two months as 200 new international nurses roll in from the United Kingdom.
The worry is we need more people every year," Buick said. "We have to get that gap closed before it gets worse."
He said he isn't worried about being able to staff the Edmonton Clinic when it opens, since more nursing training spots are opening up in Alberta. Ditto for staffing new beds at the Mazankowski Heart Institute opening next year and the 2008 Lois Hole Hospital for Women.
Right now, the Royal Alexandra and University hospitals are housing more than 30 per cent more staff than they were built for. When the new hospitals and new beds open, the existing facilities will be able to function properly.
But Buick said the health region is finding it hard to recruit for future growth when the province is growing so fast. More nurses are working part-time and taking maternity leaves and training spots aren't keeping up.
"It's a warning," Buick said of the current closures. "This (Edmonton Clinic) facility is part of the solution, but without growth in the training programs, the gap will increase."
- Spiralling labour and building costs have pushed the clinic's price tag to $909 million from an initial $450 million in 2004.
- Because of costs, the 143,000 square-metre space in two adjoined buildings along 114th Street has shrunk from an original 170,000 square metres.
- Clinical care will be housed in the south portion of the complex.
- Education space will be centred in the north portion.
- Tunnel construction between the Edmonton Clinic and the University Hospital begins immediately. Construction on the actual site will begin early 2008.
An amazing project and great for the city.