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Med clinic gets outta Foothills

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Parking at the Foothills Hospital is considered by some to be the 13th Herculean task, and no one knows it more than the regular patients at the family medical clinic there.

Those patients have a new reason to cheer today, however, as the clinic officially opened its new location in the North Hill Shopping Centre on Wed., Nov. 8. While the clinic features spacious, open layout, pleasing interior d├ęcor and a modern mandate of combining education with family medicine, its main selling feature is the parking, praised repeatedly by the attendees at the opening formalities.

"We're in a much more accessible location," said Janet James-Whelan, Primary Health Care Nurse Specialist at the new Clinic. "Patients can access US from anywhere on the LRT... it's much, much easier than trying to get to Foothills, having to pay for parking, feeding meters, afraid of getting tickets... it's just a huge advantage."

Physicians in the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine and the Calgary Regional Health Authority teamed up to open the clinic, which provides a range of family services, including obstetrics and age-related medical attention, according to resident doctor Lorraine van Veen-Kane.

Peter Norton, the head of Family Medicine at the U of C Faculty of Medicine, cites two other main benefits provided by the relocation.

"One is that we're closer to the patients we're serving and the second is to expose the residents during their training to a more real situation in family medicine," said Norton.

Norton added that typically, family practitioners do not operate in a hospital and the move allows resident doctors to experience practice in the more realistic circumstances of a community clinic.

Additionally, the new location of the clinic provides ready access to other health services in the North Hill Shopping Centre.

"We're much, much closer to the services we need," stated James-Whelan, pointing to the proximity of a radiology lab in the upper level of the clinic and the pharmacy in the mall itself.

"We were fortunate to find space that allows US good access so we can carry on taking care of patients at the hospital and get to the Health Science Centre for educational purposes," Norton added.

Norton is very pleased with the new partnership with the CRHA.

"While the clinical services used for educational purposes have always been jointly sponsored by the region and the university, the CRHA have been true partners in this vision for teaching family medicine in this setting," said Norton.

The clinic provides opportunities for four resident doctors to complete what Norton called "major learning activities" in their first year of training. "It's a beautiful clinic... nice, open, spacious. It's a very well set up facility," stated van Veen-Kane, a resident at the clinic since September.

In the future, Norton hopes, through the clinic development, to link the primary care strategy provided by the clinic into the health care provided by the CRHA.

"One of the things put forth by the region is the primary health care strategy and we'd like to model some of those opportunities through this clinic."

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