. Clinics get new boss
Health and Social Services board to run city's medical clinics

Glen Vienneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 19/00) - The Yellowknife Health and Social Services Board is going ahead with its plan to take over control of four Yellowknife medical clinics.

The board was set up last year to assume responsibility for health and social service programs delivered in Yellow-knife, Ndilo and Dettah.

Al Woods, chief executive officer for the board, says this takeover, which includes offering general practitioners a salaried position, will hopefully help combat the shortage of doctors in the Yellowknife region.

Currently general practitioners are paid on a fee for service basis, with a certain per cent of their fees going to cover costs of the clinic's operations. In Yellowknife that comes to approximately 35-40 per cent.

It is this overhead cost which is discouraging practitioners from remaining in Yellowknife.

"We think (it) would be beneficial for us when trying to recruit physicians. We're certainly short right now, we need more physicians in Yellowknife," said Rick Upton, acting director for the Department of Health and Social Services' board support and health services division.

The Yellowknife board hopes by instituting a salaried system physicians will have more incentive for staying in Yellowknife.

"I think that would make things clearer for general practitioners," Upton said, adding, as a result of this transfer, the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Board would become the employer of the physicians.

"Right now the clinics are basically privately owned, they are run by the physicians, so this would be Yellowknife Health and Social Services Board running the clinics now," Upton said.

"Rather than the physicians needing to do a fee for service billing, they would more or less be paid a wage by Yellowknife Health and Social Services Board.

"They wouldn't be as isolated, they would be more part of the overall, the primary health care team," he said.

"It may also allow us to integrate physicians more, so they could work more with public health or with social workers or with home care, they become more part of the organization, their services would be more integrated."

Currently, there are four physicians at the Gibson Medical Clinic, five at the Family Medical Clinic, four at the Great Slave Medical House and six at the Frame Lake Family Physicians. Frame Lake has four permanent physicians, one associate and one locum. Locum physicians are temporary staff sent in, allowing regular doctors time off.

Woods says negotiations are now under way between the board, physicians, the Stanton Regional Health Board and the Department of Health and Social Services.

These talks are expected to be completed sometime in June.