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Official opening of Assiniboine Valley Medical Center being celebrated at a reception in Kamsack

It should be a grand time of congratulation and satisfaction on Tuesday when the official opening of the Assiniboine Valley Medical Center is celebrated.
medical centre
Everyone is being invited to attend a reception that is being held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday to mark the official opening of the Assiniboine Valley Medical Center.

It should be a grand time of congratulation and satisfaction on Tuesday when the official opening of the Assiniboine Valley Medical Center is celebrated.

As promised, at the end of the winter, the staff of the former Kamsack Medical Clinic had moved into the beautiful new facility, located on Dixon Avenue across the street from the Kamsack Hospital.

And on Tuesday the community will show its appreciation for the work and commitment made by many in the district in order to help assure that residents will have adequate medical care now and into the future.

The reception for the facility for which its name deliberately misspells “centre,” is expected to include remarks by Ken Krawetz, the Canora-Pelly MLA; Kamsack Mayor Rod Gardner, and a representative of the Ministry of Health. Members of the committee and contractors will be introduced and the Legacy Wall, which is the artwork created by former resident Craig Campbell of Saskatoon in order to ac knowledge major donors, will be unveiled.

Of the final $2 million price tag on the facility, a total of $1.5 million has already been raised, Gardner explained last week. In addition, the second Smoke on the Water fundraiser, held at Madge Lake last month, was responsible for raising more than $100,000 leaving only about $400,000 to be raised to have the facility completely paid. “We’re getting there,” he said.

The new facility was needed because the former clinic on First Street was an extremely old building that was owned by an Ontario resident. The heating system was not the best, it had been renovated several times and was not laid out in a modern, efficient medical centre format.

“It was felt that the doctors and staff deserve good working conditions and that a new, modern facility would help in the recruitment and retention of doctors in the future,” Mayor Gardner had said.

It was in 2010, after a group of local volunteers led by Terry Horkoff did a very extensive study of health care services in the province, and in the Kamsack area in particular, that discussions began regarding the possibility of a new medical clinic in the community, Councillor Joe Kozakewich said.

As a result, a new committee of council, the Medical Services Committee, which reports to council at every regular meeting, was formed, Kozakewich said. The primary mandate of this committee was the recruitment and retention of doctors, which is a task it continues to work on and will continue to work on long into the future.

“Another finding of the study was that a new, modern, state-of-the-art facility that was locally owned and run on a cost-recovery basis, would be something that would help us compete for new doctors that arrive from overseas,” Gardner said. “In 2011 the Medical Services Committee recommended we proceed with such a facility, and after discussions with representatives of other clinics, including those in Esterhazy and Roblin, plans were drawn and the job went to tender in 2012.”

After researching possible locations around town and after discussions with residents of other locations, including Roblin, where the doctors’ clinic is actually attached to the hospital, and after consulting with medical doctors and staff in Kamsack and in other communities, the decision was made to build the new facility as close to the hospital as was possible, he said. Sunrise Health Region did not have enough space on the existing hospital grounds so the Town of Kamsack donated property across the street and construction began. “We started with the blueprint of a four-doctor clinic that Esterhazy had recently completed,” Kozakewich said. “We then asked the Esterhazy clinic staff what they would have done differently with the experience of having been in the building for a while.

“Suggestions were made and we incorporated them and other ideas into the plans and then hired the same engineering firm, CA Reed and Associates of Yorkton, to come up with a new set of drawings.”

“We decided to stage the construction into two parts in order to allow for the concrete grade beams to be poured in the fall of 2013,” Gardner said. “The concrete tenders were called and Logan Stevens of Yorkton was awarded the job.

“A second tender was called for the balance of the structure and was awarded to Zarchikoff Construction of Kamsack.

“With approximately $500,000 in pledged donations, we embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise another $1.2 million to see the project through.”

Discussing the size of the building and the possibility of expansion, Kozakewich said that the medical clinic portion of the building is about 5,800 square feet, which is somewhat larger than was the Esterhazy project.

“This area will comfortably house four full-time doctors and all the necessary support staff,” he said. The building also contains an additional 2,800 square feet of undeveloped area for future use.

“Our hope is to recruit a dentist and an optometrist and perhaps other health professionals to utilize this area.”

The medical centre is being managed by the Assiniboine Valley Health and Wellness Foundation, a local non-profit foundation with a mandate to help foster better health care for all ages in the district.

The centre operates similar to the former clinic with existing staff carrying out the day-to-day functions of the clinic. Doctors pay monthly rental fees to the foundation and in turn the foundation, through clinic employees, pay the bills, order supplies and so forth.

An objective is to keep the rent as low as possible in order to be competitive. The aim is for cost recovery with a small margin.

A preview of the facility was given a delegation of district community leaders and health professionals in February, when they were all effusive with their praise.

Ron Zarchikoff, the contractor, led the tour through the building, explaining its features throughout. Accompanying him were Audrey Horkoff and councillors Joe Kozakewich and Nancy Brunt, who are members of the medical services committee which was responsible for overseeing the construction; Cody Bruvold, chair of the Assiniboine Valley Health and Wellness Foundation which was to manage the building, and Ben Hudye, a district businessman who was a member of the project’s fundraising committee.

Beginning at the high ceilinged, multi-windowed waiting area decorated with walls covered with quarried stone, Zarchikoff escorted the group through the spacious reception area and its two offices, along the wide corridors, stopping at the treatment room, the eight examining rooms, four doctors’ offices, the staff room and utility rooms.

Zarchikoff explained how the finished portion of the building occupies 5,200 square feet and then took the delegation into a large, unfinished area of 2,600 square feet that has been reserved for future expansion for such services as would be provided by a part-time optometrist, dentist, chiropractor or massage therapist.

“It’s all roughed in and ready for tenants,” he said.

Back at the waiting room, Kozakewich, who was chair of the medical services committee, talked about the legacy wall, saying that the committee realized that such events as hot dog sales and raffles would not be sufficient to raise the funds required. It was then that he, along with Hudye, Tom Campbell and Mayor Gardner agreed to spearhead a major fundraising project with the concept of a legacy wall.

Kozakewich explained how donors of major amounts would be recognized by the legacy wall. The metal plates containing the names of the donating families were positioned to resemble a stream flowing down one of the walls that was specially reinforced to accommodate the work. A separate plaque is to be erected to recognize smaller donations.

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