Rosthern has seen a flurry of construction in the past twelve months, first with the new Rosthern Community School and again this spring with the Sask Valley Health Care Centre at 6001 12th Street, right behind Neufeld Sand and Gravel. The Health Care Centre is a multidisciplinary office which is the new home not only for the Rosthern Medical Clinic, but also Doctors Vision Care which moved from their former location on 6th Street, and new to Rosthern and also located at the Health Care Centre is the Rosthern Ultrasound Centre. Dr. Melle is also hopeful that they can in the future add a physiotherapist and possibly a chiropractor or massage therapist to the list of services available at the Health Centre.
Plans for the new Health Care Centre started in the spring of 2018 as a vision of Dr. Jess Melle, Dr. Kirk Ewen of Doctors Vision Care, and Kevin Melnyk of Melnyk Pharmacies. Fundraising for a new hospital at Rosthern has been ongoing for a number of years and the target amount is getting ever closer and with that the practicality of having a healthcare hub was truly evident. As Rosthern continues to grow and become the centre for healthcare between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, more specialty medical services can see the value in opening an office there. The Rosthern Ultrasound Centre, a partner with Saskatoon Medical Imaging for example, grew out of a strong relationship between the Rosthern physicians and the Warman Ultrasound Center. When approached by Dr. Melle to join the Sask Valley Health Care Centre, they saw the new Centre as a hub for healthcare in the region which services a combined population of approximately 16,000 people.
Dr. Ewen stated that to be in a facility like the Health Centre allows for greater collaboration and access to other health care professionals. Plus the move into the new office will allow them to practice to the fullness of their professional scope by having the space for the most recent and upgraded equipment and an optometrist available five days a week as opposed to only one day previously. Drs. Cora Plummer and Jasmine Yakubowski will share the full-time position in Rosthern and Dr. Ewen will cover holidays and be the Director of Clinical Operations. Further, Dr. Ewen added, he “wanted to commit to the communities of Rosthern and area with a professional establishment that best illustrates our services.” The new office allowed for tripling the size of the frame inventory making it comparable to shops in Saskatoon as well as expanding the diagnostic testing area to allow for equipment upgrades like the Optomap UltraWide Field retinal imaging, and the Optical Coherence Tomography unit for retinal and nerve head thickness mapping. Upgrades and additions as well to the equipment for glaucoma testing was made possible. The staff at Vision Care are able to offer regular eye exams, dry eye, foreign body removals, LASER co-management, management of early eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, and ocular manifestations of chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis or medications such as amiodarone, quinolones and prednisone. Lastly, Dr. Ewen noted that the new clinic has the equipment, inventory and service hours of a city clinic but with the intimacy of small town care as has been the foundation of Doctors Vision Care since inception in 2011.
The new Health Centre has a larger medical clinic than the previous clinic with room for up to eleven doctors plus learners. They currently have nine doctors and continue to be a training location for medical students and residents. There are 18 exam rooms which are larger and more accessible. Additional improvements over the old site include a larger lab, more parking and much better handicap accessibility and a more efficient layout and use of space. The Health Centre also has space for and hopes to attract specialist doctors to do itinerant clinics there such as gynecology and ear/nose/throat, and other common specialists that the physicians at the clinic routinely refer patients to.
The doctors at the Rosthern Medical Clinic continue to provide a full scale of medical services and with the addition of three new doctors, several of the doctors are accepting new patients and some are able to work more specifically in areas of personal medical interest which include chronic pain management, HIV primary care, Hepatitis C treatment, and palliative care services. As well, counseling and treatment for alcohol, drug, and other substance use disorders is available from the physicians at the clinic including opiate substitution therapy and inpatient detox. First and foremost, however, the clinic remains a primary care family medical clinic. They offer chronic disease management services, periodic and screening health exams, well child check-ups, treatment of minor ailments, prescription refills, vaccinations, and WCB, SGI and insurance medicals. Procedures such as joint injections, removal of moles or lesions, vasectomies, and IUD insertions are within the scope of the clinic’s physicians. Women’s health including prenatal care and newborn exams as well as contraceptive and family planning services are available from both male and female doctors. Geriatric Clinics are held at Pineview Manor and Sunrise Personal Care Home, and the physicians routinely visit the long-term care facilities in the local area.
The roster of doctors currently practicing at the medical clinic include Dr. Jess Melle, Dr. James MacMillan, Dr. Abi Adeniran, Dr. Christopher Little, Dr. Breanne Silver, Dr. Caitlin Paul (on maternity leave) , Dr. Eric Brenna, Dr. Levi Furber, and newest to the team is Dr. Keara Minish. Doctors currently accepting new patients include: Dr. Brenna, Dr. Furber and Dr. Minish, while Drs. Melle and MacMillan are accepting patients for certain specialized services. While many rural clinics experience almost a revolving door of international doctors fulfilling the rural practice requirement of their Canadian accreditation, the majority of the physicians in Rosthern are Saskatchewan born and raised. Whether they grew up in Saskatoon or Nigeria, all the doctors employed in Rosthern share the an enjoyment for the variety and challenges of rural family medicine and with the construction of the Health Centre hopefully more doctors and specialists will be enticed to experience the friendly and personal atmosphere of rural medicine.
With the closure of the FYIdoctors satellite clinic in Wakaw earlier this year, Doctors Vision Care is happy to welcome any of their former clients to their clinic. With the services they are now able to offer, a trip to the city for vision care is no longer a necessity. Dr. Ewen also shared a link to the new Health Centre for the communities on this side of the river. The late Albert Ethier of Domremy who owned Highline Construction dreamed of a central health care centre in Rosthern. It was he who constructed the facility on 6thStreet that housed Doctors Vision Care from 2015 until its move this summer. With the construction of the Sask Valley Health Care Centre, Albert’s vision has now become a reality.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder