Open Health a Model for Integrated Healthcare


1 Open Health A Model For Integrated Healthcare Pic2
Dr. Mairi Burnett in one of the new clinic's rooms Brenda Sawatzky

Open Health reopened its doors on September 19 after a quickly orchestrated move from the Heritage Centre’s main building into their newly constructed space connected to the life lease complex. Drs. Chris and Mairi Burnett, Regional Health Authority (RHA) workers, and reception staff have settled in and are seeing clients again after a closure of only one business day.

The new facility is bright, comfortable, and well-planned, providing a large reception area which leads to two wings containing clinical rooms and a lab. The solid doors of the clinical rooms are unmarked, creating complete obscurity for patients who may not wish for others to know the purpose of their visit.

In this integrated health model, you can find physicians, public healthcare workers, homecare coordinators, a dietician, a nurse educator, mental health workers, nurse practitioners and a primary health care nurse all in one place.

“All the evidence shows that the best care is given in teams,” says Dr. Chris Burnett. “We have a luxury here that people listened to our ideas and came up with this great idea of a single-stop place for primary care. That’s the first level of care which is really 98 percent of all the [medical concerns] that happen.”

He says that the benefit to this type of integrated clinic is that referrals can happen under one roof. When a patient comes to see a physician and is also in need of a diabetic nurse or a dietician, there is an easy referral to another clinician within the same building, without having to go to another location or community.

“Someone coming in and sitting down in a chair will [be guided] into the most appropriate room to see the most appropriate provider,” says Burnett, adding that the separation between physicians and RHA staff has been intentionally blurred. Patients, in his mind, don’t care who pays the medical providers’ salaries. They just want to be directed to the one who best fits their needs.

Burnett says the intent of all the professionals at Open Health is to work as a team and plan as a team. He foresees taking this one step further in 2018, encouraging all local healthcare providers such as fitness centres, chiropractors, reflexologists, dentists, physiotherapists, and others working in health-related modes within the community to join the team, coordinating their efforts to build on Niverville as a destination for health and wellness. 

“We [also] want to challenge the town: when you look at the planning of Main Street, of greenspaces, of cycle paths, think of that as a form of wellness. If you start engraining that at that level, it makes for a very good future for our town.”

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