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Sundre clinic named outstanding family practice

Sundre's own Moose and Squirrel Medical Clinic was one of two practices in the province recently recognized by the Alberta College of Family Physicians.
Calgary doctor Joan Horton, chair of awards and recognition committee for the Alberta College of Family Physicians, chats with Sundre’s Dr. Rob Warren and Dr. Michelle
Calgary doctor Joan Horton, chair of awards and recognition committee for the Alberta College of Family Physicians, chats with Sundre’s Dr. Rob Warren and Dr. Michelle Warren.

Sundre's own Moose and Squirrel Medical Clinic was one of two practices in the province recently recognized by the Alberta College of Family Physicians.

Being named Outstanding Family Practice for 2017 along with the Sylvan Lake Family Health Centre "is a tremendous honour," said Dr. Rob Warren, who in November of 2013 opened the clinic with his wife and partner Dr. Michelle Warren.

An award presentation attended by Alberta College of Family Physicians representatives and dignitaries was held at the clinic on Monday, Oct. 16.

"The great thing about this award is that they're recognizing the efforts that our people behind the scenes have made in order to make sure patients are well taken care of," he said.

The award recognizes efforts made by clinics that endeavour to establish a concept known as the Patients' Medical Home. The underlying principle behind this goal is to create an environment in which patients can be seen not only by their doctor, but also by their own nurse as well as other allied health professionals who deliver comprehensive care to ensure no preventative health screening tests fall through the cracks, he said.

A true patient's medical home goes beyond what doctors alone do — nursing and administrative staff play a critical role in reviewing patient charts to make sure people who are due for a screening come in for a checkup. The idea is to manage health preventatively instead of waiting until patients get sick, he said.

"This award recognizes the entire team rather than just the physician quarterback who throws the ball. Doctors know what a huge, amazing job our staff do. But it happens behind the scenes — people might not know how crucial those members are."

When the Warrens opened the clinic's doors almost four years ago, they ultimately sought to establish a practice "that would be mentioned in the same breath as some of the top clinics in the province," including Sylvan Lake and Pincher Creek, which served as mentors that offered important feedback on setting up a practice which provides comprehensive care.

"We did our best to emulate their model," he said.

"To be recognized this year alongside our mentors really demonstrated that we've really exceeded our expectations."

After four years, Warren continues to look forward to coming in to work.

"When I go to the office, it feels like I get to go and hang out with family and friends. The environment is so much fun to work in that a lot of times it doesn't feel like a job."

However, managing growing pains is an ongoing hurdle to overcome, he said.

"The biggest challenge is how to maintain that family feel as we grew from a group of five people who opened the clinic four years ago, to now a group of 15."

Every time a new member was welcomed aboard, "we were always really paying attention to how that person and their personality and passions were going to fit in with our clinic family. Luckily, we've been very fortunate to add people who seem to really fit well."

Since Day One, their main goal has been to provide gold standard medical care to the community, he said.

"We didn't know how we would be able to measure that. But feedback from patients, and now the recognition from our peers in Alberta, seems to tell us that we're on the right track and that we're doing what we set out to do."

Moving forward, the Warrens plan to continue expanding their practice.

"We still have people in our community who don't have a family doctor. We haven't been able to accept new patients to our clinic for about two years," he said.

That's something they would like to remedy by seeking out at least one or two new physicians to join the clinic in the coming year.

"We've got space to expand next door, we just need to find the right person to join the team," he said.

"Our ultimate goal is that everybody in Sundre and the surrounding area has access to a family doctor."



Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.
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