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New health partner

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Students walking by Health Services will notice a new name: University Health Clinic. As of Wed., Oct. 1, the clinic will be managed by International Health Partners Inc.

According to Vice-President Student Affairs Dr. Peggy Patterson, they have not signed a contract, but the negotiations have progressed to a point where the university felt comfortable announcing the partnership. The possible contract is for two years, with the potential for two 10-year contracts after.

"From the experience of the user of the service, they should experience relatively little difference and that's particularly true because after discussions with physicians and other health service providers they are there," said Dr. Patterson. "Built into our contract is a quality-assurance mechanism whereby we pay attention to the experiences of the clients who use University Health Clinic."

IHP President and Chief Financial Officer David McQuaig is excited by the new opportunity. McQuaig also hopes no one notices a difference in quality of services.

"The university tries to look at it from a sense of community," said McQuaig, a U of C graduate with a BA in Sociology. "This is a commuter campus. By providing a wide range of services it will enhance the community sense."

Dr. Patterson predicts students will see additional services, like dental, within six to 12 months of the transition. In the contract, IHP has first right of refusal for new services.

"We certainly agree to expand the level of services," said McQuaig. "It all depends on discussions with the SU. It's important to provide a wide range of services."

According to McQuaig and Dr. Patterson, most doctors will stay on with the new clinic. However, six support staff positions were cut and will be contracted out.

"A medical clinic cannot function and pay wages to public employees," explained McQuaig. "At the end of the day, it's more important to provide service."

AUPE Local 52 Chair Dan Tilleman says this bothers the union.

"Although the [laid off staff] will get severance because that's in the collective agreement... this is the McDonaldization of jobs on campus," he explained

Students' Union President Jayna Gilchrist thinks the new partner will work out and quality will be assured because of monthly reviews by Student Services.

"If students have concerns, they should contact me," said Gilchrist.

Contact her at studun@ ucalgary.ca.

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