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Family Care Clinics

March 22, 2012

Three pilot sites set to open in April

Story by Tara Grindle; photo by Susy Salanguit

Albertans will be introduced to a new model of primary health care when Family Care Clinics (FCCs) open their doors in Slave Lake, East Edmonton and East Calgary this April.

Karen DeViller, Site Director Edmonton East Health CentreFCCs are an initiative of the Alberta Government to increase access to primary health care services for Albertans, particularly those who are: under-served, require a family physician, have chronic diseases and/or addiction and mental health needs.

“Enhancing primary health care is a priority for AHS,” says Dr. Chris Eagle, AHS CEO. “FCCs have the potential to improve not just access to care but also the quality and outcomes of that care.”

With a strong focus on wellness, FCCs will offer individuals and families comprehensive care close to their home and will be integrated with other health services and community supports and programs.

FCCs will be different from traditional primary health care settings in that individuals won’t be required to see a physician for access to many of the services offered within the FCC such as dietary advice, physiotherapy or addictions counseling.

Clinics will also offer extended hours, with support for afterhours care. Hours and days of operation for each FCC will be defined by community need. Individuals will be able to schedule appointments as well as access same day care when required.

"Convenient access to team-based primary care close to home drives improvements throughout the health system," said Fred Horne, Minister of Health and Wellness. "These clinics will improve access in underserved communities - both urban and rural - across Alberta. They will support the increasing numbers of Albertans living with chronic diseases like diabetes, help take pressure off our emergency rooms, and reach out to those in need of mental health and addictions services at an earlier stage - all under one roof."

Publicly funded and operated by AHS, FCCs will employ a wide range of primary health-care providers. The composition of these teams will differ by site based on population need but may include professionals such as: nurse practitioners, nurses, family physicians, social workers, mental health/addiction counselors and psychologists, pharmacists, dietitians, respiratory, occupational and physical therapists.

In Slave Lake FCC services will initially be co-located in a physician clinic while a permanent location is determined. The East Edmonton Health Centre and East Calgary Health Centre will house the two other pilot sites.

Site development, staff recruitment and orientation are currently underway. The initiative will evolve over the coming months with community input into the required programs and services.

There will be ongoing evaluation of FCC’s in order to capitalize upon learnings and identify areas for improvement. This information will be used to inform the development of future primary health care initiatives.

For more information on FCCs please see the Government of Alberta news release.