Health Task Force Delivers Report to Niverville Council

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In May, Niverville’s town council appointed five local residents to serve on the community’s new Health Task Force and also hired a sixth person as a facilitator/consultant.

After a few months of meeting as a committee, Norman Klippenstein (chairperson) and Kathy McPhail (facilitator/consultant) have made some recommendations for council to take into consideration as they chart a course forward.

The task force had been tasked with researching the matter of doctor acquisition and retention, including other healthcare professionals, primarily looking at what other communities do to combat the problem and learn how these strategies fit into the province’s recent changes to healthcare delivery. 

In a report to council on October 17, Klippenstein and McPhail identified four common strategies taken by other communities.

Some communities have offered large cash incentives, provided no- or low-cost housing benefits, offered guaranteed income contracts (which isn’t the present model), and reduced their clinics’ overhead costs.

In a clinic run by a fee-for-service model, such as the one in Niverville, the doctors assume the overhead costs, much like any business. The task force points out that some communities reduce the rate of overhead, lightening the burden shouldered by doctors. 

According to McPhail, however, none of these strategies have proven to be particularly successful in terms of doctor retention.

Some successful Manitoba clinics, like one in Morden, take the time to find the doctor that’s the best fit for the community, not just the one that will agree to specific terms. The best fit usually means someone who will live, work, and play in the community, building a long-term investment there.

While the task force’s final report has not yet been released, it is this latter set of Morden-inspired strategies that they are expecting to recommend. 

Among McPhail’s and Klippenstein’s recommendations is a call to form a permanent health advisory committee that would act as a liaison between council and healthcare-providing bodies like Open Health, Heritage Holdings, and other service providers in the community. 

Such a committee would help ensure the longevity of healthcare improvement in Niverville in part by assisting council in keeping the matter at the forefront of council’s mandate. 

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