New medical society may act as a model

In what has been an ongoing process for about a year, the Fort St. James Primary Care Society has officially formed.

In what has been an ongoing process for about a year, the Fort St. James Primary Care Society has officially formed.

The society will be working in partnership with Northern Health to take over the Fort St. James Medical Clinic.

The non profit society, has a mandate to provide administrative oversight and governance to the previously private Fort St. James Medical Clinic.

Previously the clinic was owned and operated by Dr. Paul Stent, who is looking towards retirement.

The formation of the society was precipitated last year with the loss of the majority of the physicians in Fort St. James, leaving only Dr. Stent to become the lone physician for the area, and the goal was to create a new model for the physician clinic to continue to operate.

The medical clinic’s day-to-day operations will still be managed internally as before.

Chairperson of the society, Laura Chernowski, said everything to do with the society and their partnership from Northern Health has been developed from the ground up, so it has been a complex process, but the group is excited to be working with Northern Health to set up this “unique model.”

Northern Health has supported the formation of the group by funding a lawyer who specializes in not-for-profits to consult with the group.

The community of Burns Lake also has a not-for-profit society working with Northern Health on local health care, but it is not as far along in the process and is not structured the same way.

“This is the only one that I’m aware of,” said April Hughes of Northern Health.  “It’s truly a partnership between the community and the health authority.”

“People will be looking at this particular formation to either replicate it or to do something similar based on the learnings that have come out of this particular organizational structure.”

The board currently consists of nine members: Chernowski as chair, Ann McCormick as co-chair, Kris Nielson as secretary, Monica Grill as the treasurer, and directors Chester Hiebert, Ross Ramos, Aileen Prince, Riley Willick and Joan Burdeniuk.

The board is meeting with Northern Health this week to continue to work on the plan for the society and the clinic.