Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network is on the Move in 2012 - to the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre!

Well, people, I love a good press conference. I love press conferences that announce major concerts (these are exciting events, but generally with short-lived true community impact), and I love press conferences that announce new sports teams or sports events (usually longer-term community impact, but since I'm about as athletic as a sloth little personal impact). My favourite kind of press conference, though? The kind announcing something with tremendous community impact of the long-term variety, and one that means something to me personally as well. Yesterday I attended the press conference announcing the impending 2012 move of the Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network into the Keyano College Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre, and was delighted that this announcement is of my very favourite kind.

The Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network is a huge part of health care in our community. I began to use them shortly after they opened, mainly for their women's annual health check and screening program. Yes, I have a family doctor (in fact, in my decade here I've had three of them, as they have a tendency to establish a wonderful practice and then leave for other opportunities). I decided to use the WBPCN since I have always been more comfortable discussing women's health issues with a woman. I also determined after my second doctor moved away that the WBPCN could provide a consistency of annual care and still provide whatever physician I had with the necessary lab reports or information. My first visit to the WBPCN is what sealed the deal, though. I had a physical exam that was incredibly thorough, and the nurse spent more time with me than a physician ever has, for any issue. You see, physicians are so busy "putting out fires" - dealing with serious medical problems and crises - that health maintenance seems to play a secondary role. They just don't have time to sit and chat with you about not only your physical health but your emotional health, too. But that is what they do at the WBPCN, and they do it well. They provide so many other services, too, to people with chronic illnesses, recovering from medical crises (like strokes and heart attacks), geriatric care...the list goes on and on. In my mind they are a treasure in this community, and they are an integral part of our health care system.

For the last few years the WBPCN has operated out of the Morrison Centre downtown. This is a nice central location, but doesn't really have much else going for it in terms of being an appropriate place for this kind of organization. The Morrison Centre is really designed for small businesses and medical offices, and the WBPCN is likely to see their clientele grow as our city does. The WBPCN needed more space, and they needed a better fit for their needs. That fit appeared in the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre.

There is a natural "synergy" to this. The WBPCN is all about health maintenance and preventative health care - and of course that's one of the goals of a recreation facility, too. To be housed in a facility where clients can also access physical fitness facilities is a tremendous asset. To be connected to Keyano College is yet another asset, and I can see many collaborations between the college and the WBPCN in terms of research and perhaps even work placement experiences for students in certain disciplines. The fit of the WBPCN, Keyano College, and the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre is natural, sustainable, and potentially very, very exciting for all parties.

I suppose what catches me most is the natural connection in even the names of the two organizations - Wood Buffalo Primary Care Centre, and Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre. Those key words, "care", and "wellness", are so inter-connected and naturally linked. Now they will be physically linked as well, and to the benefit of clients, staff, and our community.

Oh, and one other benefit for those clients of the WBPCN? After their appointment they could stop at the gym for a work-out, or head to the running track - or visit Mitchell's Sunshine Cafe for the freshest, healthiest, tastiest food in the city. I promised that I wouldn't tweet about that part of the press conference - and I didn't! - but I gotta admit that the final part of a great press conference is great food, and the food from Mitchell's is the best.

 So, thanks to the Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network, Keyano College, and the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre for announcing a terrific new development in our community. I look forward to visiting WBPCN in their new facility - and, yes, grabbing a sandwich from Mitchell's when I'm done! See ya there, Fort Mac!

Jill Sporidis, Executive Director,
Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network, 
and Dr. Kevin Nagel, President and CEO,
 Keyano College, signing the
 "memorandum of understanding".
Photo credit to Keyano Communications

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