January 9, 2018 • 0 Comments

• Written by Bobby Jones

Even in winter, there’s a charm to Sylvan Lake. 

A man skates on a frozen Sylvan Lake.  Sylvan Lake is a popular tourist destination in summer.

Located 25 minutes west of Red Deer, the area is a summer playground for many.  Year round, it’s a great place to be if you are a healthcare professional.

Tanis Bergen, LPN says “It’s a fantastic young community that’s growing rapidly.”

“My family and I love living here.  There’s a great atmosphere,” adds physician Dr. Lindsay Penner.

Francisco Lopez and his family arrive for an appointment with a physician.

Sylvan Lake is home to the Sylvan Family Health Centre. The nine physicians and one locum here practice using the principles of the Patient’s Medical Home.  It’s a model which focuses on patient centred care, uses a multidisciplinary approach and offers timely access to comprehensive care.

Dr Penner Family0

“Gone are the days when I’m the only sole provider for my patients.  We really need to function as part of a team in order to provide really comprehensive care for patients,” says Dr. Penner.

So, for less serious health issues, there’s a good chance patients will see an RN or an LPN instead of a physician.

There are two LPNs and two RNs at Sylvan Family Health Centre.  For some procedures, patients will only see the RN or LPN and not the physician.

 “By allowing the patient to come in and see an RN, or an LPN, the dietitian, a chronic disease nurse, it allows the doctors time to see the patients that really need to be seen, where those other team members can’t help them,” explains Lynn Mattock, clinic coordinator.

“So whether or not they have a sore throat, or a sinus infection or a bladder infection, our acute care nurse when they need to be seen emergently. Typically, that care would be funneled through the family physician in our traditional fee for service model,” says Dr. Penner.

Sylvan Family Health Centre has changed to a blended capitation model of funding as part of an Alberta Health Services pilot project.  Blended capitation compensates family physicians based on the number of patients under their care and the number of services they deliver.

It’s allowed the health centre to expand to two RNs and two LPNs.

Tanis Bergen, LPN asks patient Fred Johannson about his hearing.

“Working within the patient’s centred medical home, it has allowed me to work to my full scope.  The physicians really encourage us LPNs to maximize our skill set and our practice,” says Tanis Bergen, LPN.

So for patients like Fred who are here for an ear flush, or someone who is here for an injection, a blood pressure checkup or follow up to a hospital stay, they will likely be treated by an LPN instead of a physician.

Lpn Sig0

With this multidisciplinary approach, a big plus for patients is that wait times have dropped significantly.

“Patients used to come to the clinic, sit in the waiting room for half an hour.  Go to an exam room.  Wait 20 or 30 minutes.  Now our patients are in the waiting room for five or ten minutes and then their doc is in right away,” says Jamie Johanson, RN.

Reception area at Sylvan Family Health Centre.

“We’ve made the patient experience positive,” says Lynn Mattock, clinic coordinator.

“We’ve also been able to hire privately a pharmacist, who helps with our complex patients.” says Dr. Penner.  “She helps with our hypertension patients, with some of our pain patients.  And none of this would have been possible through a traditional fee for service model.”

The clinical pharmacist here doesn’t dispense drugs, but focuses on medication management.

Dr. Eileen Taylor (l) discuss a patient's meds with clinical pharmacist Linda Zouboules

Linda Zouboules, pharmacist, says “Medication management is huge, so one of the things I do is tweak the medication regimens and I adjust doses up and down so that the side effects are minimized.”

The Alberta College of Family Physicians recently presented the Sylvan Family Health Centre with the Patient’s Medical Home Outstanding Family Practise Award.  This prestigious award recognizes excellence and leadership in patient and community care while also exhibiting the principles of the Patient’s Medical Home.

The Sylvan Family Health Centre has been awarded the Patient’s Medical Home Outstanding Family Practise Award from the Alberta College of Family Physicians.  The award lists the names of those who work at the Centre.

“It’s nice to be recognized from the College of Family Physicians,” says Dr. Penner.

‘That is a fabulous honour to be recognized provincially” adds Jamie Johanson, RN.

“It makes me feel like we are part of something really fantastic and new,” says Tanis Bergen, LPN.

“It identifies how well our team is functioning, from our reception staff, to our administrative staff to our multidisciplinary team members,” says Dr. Penner.

“We care about our patients and I’m just excited to just be a part of it,” concludes Lynn Mattock.

Sylvan Family Health Centre was one of two rural clinics receiving this award.  The Moose & Squirrel Medical Clinic in Sundre also won.


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