Running a successful community family practice clinic requires certain things, key among them is a proper amount of suitable patient space.
“Two or three years ago we were in deep trouble,” admits Clinic Manager Aleks Dukic at the Care Point Clinic on Davie Street. “We didn’t have enough clinicians and the clinic was declining.”
These Vancouver Division grants are for PMH practice improvement and building primary care networks. Thanks in part to this, the clinic has been able to expand its usable patient space, in the process greatly enhancing the level of service they’re able to offer the community.
The clinic started with only three exam rooms, but in the past several years has quickly expanded to become a five, and now seven room facility.
“To go from three exam rooms to seven in two or three years is huge,” says Dukic. As she explains, the expansion proved appealing not only to patients, but staff as well. “It’s helped us attract physicians as well as nurse practitioners.”
The most recent room expansion came about when the clinic opened two new exam rooms that had previously been dedicated to the storage of patient records. To make this possible, the clinic began digitizing their files, a major task that was kicked off with the Division grant.
“We have five or six clinicians at the moment and nobody wants to work evenings,” says Dukic. “We had to adjust and try to make more space.”
What’s important when it comes to managing space within a clinic? According to Christine Lavelle-Martin, a good game plan goes a long way. “People have an image of a shiny, new clinic, but that’s not necessarily what’s needed,” says the Chief Operating Office of Care Point. “Instead, it’s the smart use of space.”
For her part, Dukic does the majority of her work while at the clinic and the rest at home if her office space is needed. “Everything is web-based, so it doesn’t always matter if I’m here or not,” she says.
Dukic explains how one physician made maximal use of her space. “Younger physicians don’t realize that, with support, they can work in just one room,” she says. “I used to have a doctor who would sit in one room and see over 40 patients in her six hour shift. She would then go back to the doctor’s room to complete her work.”
Physicians at the clinic utilize Telemedicine as well, a practice that has benefits for both the patients and the clinic itself.
“If the need is something minor, such as a renewal or prescription, it’s not always necessary for patients to be physically present,” says Dukic. Using a single space with no need for exam equipment, a doctor can provide a patient with a video consultation, review their records, and send a prescription with the push of a button. “This prevents patients from having to take time off work,” she says.
Less foot traffic also means less congestion at the facility. “You can see that my reception area is tiny, so when I have six clinicians working at a time, it can be tight,” says Dukic.
Dukic believes that facilities such as the Care Point clinic on Davies Street are ideal for new graduates who may not want to immediately tackle the challenge of opening their own practice. “You don’t even need to bring a stethoscope,” she says, “that’s all on the company.”
Administrative headaches are handled by management and MOAs, enabling physicians to focus on medicine. “You spend however many hours you want to spend at the clinic, then go home,” she says.
Operating in its expanded physical space, the Care Point clinic continues to thrive. “I have a doctor here who is taking new patients,” says Dukic.
This is sure to be welcome news to the West End and the future looks even brighter.
“We’ve been newly purchased,” announces Lavelle-Martin, “and the intention of our new ownership team is to invest in the clinics, so more upgrades are coming.” The success of the clinic, and others like it, ripples far beyond the facilities’ walls. “We’re trying to help both community patients and our business,” explains Dukic.
Photos: previously patient file rooms, the Davie St clinic team has almost finished converting two offices into usable patient space.
Direct communication with Christine Lavelle-Martin and Aleksandra Dukic.
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