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Partnership funds construction of new building for medical clinic in Cabri

By Matthew Liebenberg

For many rural communities in Saskatchewan it remains an ongoing challenge to attract health professionals to their areas, which often requires some innovative thinking.

This has been the case with a number of rural communities in southwest Saskatchewan that are pooling their financial resources to support the construction of a new $425,000 medical clinic in the town of Cabri.

The facility will become the new home of the Cabri Medical Clinic, which is operated by family physician Dr. Stefanus de Nysschen.

According to Town of Cabri Mayor David Gossard the project is an effort by the participating communities to support Dr. De Nysschen’s practice.

“Basically if the community shows that we support the doctor then the doctor supports us and we hope that we can keep him in the community longer,” he said. “He’s in an old clinic and this new one will just give him a better facility.”

The project is a joint initiative by the rural municipalities of Clinworth, Miry Creek, Pittville and Riverside, the Town of Cabri, the villages of Abbey, Hazlet, Lancer and Shackleton as well as the Abbey, Pennant and Wheatland Hutterite colonies.

These communities are all served by the Cabri Medical Clinic. In addition to operating the clinic, Dr. De Nysschen provides medical and emergency services at the Prairie Health Care Centre in Cabri.

The new building will be owned jointly by the partners and be administered through the Town of Cabri. A lease agreement will determine the terms under which Dr. De Nysschen will operate the clinic in its new location.

The Cypress Health Region is supporting the initiative by making a portion of land on the grounds of the Prairie Health Care Centre available for the construction of the building.

“We actually have a significant amount of property around our building,” Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon said. “There’s lots of room there and it keeps all of our health professionals working in close proximity to each other. So we’re happy to provide the land for this project.”

She commended the communities for their initiative to support the physician practice in their area.

“The [health] region is not involved in fee-for-service physician clinics and that’s the kind of operation that happens in Cabri,” she said. “So I think the community has shown a lot of foresight in the development of this clinic and looking into the future to ensure that they can have an attractive location for their medical staff to work from, certainly with the existing physician and well into the future.”

The future of health care services has been an issue of concern to area residents for a number of years. It resulted

in the establishment of the Prairie Health Care Committee in November 2011 to discuss health care needs with the Cypress Health Region.

Vachon said the health region will continue to interact with community members about their expectations.

“I think we’ve been doing that all along, trying to work with the community to come to that right mix of services in the community and working with the current physician to address any issues that come up,” she mentioned.

According to Gossard, it was important for the partners to carry out this project as an initiative by elected officials to address the issue of doctor retention.

“We felt that if we could find a way to get this build, it shows the health region and the provincial government that the people, the community in Cabri and the surrounding area take our facility and our doctor very seriously,” he explained. “We’re going to do what it takes to try and keep him here and keep a good level of service in Cabri.”

He is confident this building project will help to stabilize the availability of physician services in the area.

“The key to the health service in Cabri has always been the doctor,” he said. “If you have a doctor you can build things around him. So we hope this will keep the doctor in the community. As long as we have a doctor we can build and improve the services that we deliver in the community.”

To calculate the amount to be contributed by each community towards the project, the most recent population data was used to determine the pro rata contribution of each local authority partner. The contribution of some rural municipalities were adjusted because many of their residents are using medical services in Swift Current.

“So all in all the process worked very well,” he said. “The unique way we’re funding it and the villages and the towns and the RM’s working together to achieve a common goal is the real neat part of this.”

Construction of the new 1,700 square feet medical clinic, which started this spring, is scheduled for completion by the fall.

Dr. De Nysschen provided input into the design of the facility to ensure it will meet the needs of the health staff who will be working there. It includes a multiple use area that will provide accommodation to visiting locums.

“It’s kind of a little bachelor pad on the end,” Gossard said. “So when the locums are here they can stay there. There will be a little kitchen and dining room area for them and a television and then during the rest of the time it will basically end up being the staff room.”

The project budget includes some money for new equipment in the clinic, but fundraising is also done for that purpose.

Donations towards clinic equipment can be made to the Cabri Hospital Auxiliary, Box 135, Cabri, Saskatchewan, S0N 0J0. A tax deductible donation receipt will be issued.


Ponteix By Tim Kalinowski W

here once the Francophone population of southwest Saskatchewan numbered in the thousands and spanned the entire region,

now only a handful of native French speakers remain.

Ponteix is one community which had been an exception to the declining use of the French language elsewhere. Founded in 1907 by French priest Père Marie Albert Royer who dreamt of a great church rising from the top of a hill, Ponteix once drew many different waves of French-speaking settlers.

From that gathering of peoples came forth one of the two great cathedrals still standing in southwest Saskatchewan—Notre Dame d’Auvergne. Until as recently as 30 years ago, the community was still predominantly French-speaking, and enjoyed a lively bilingual cultural relationship with the rest of southwest Saskatchewan.

As Notre Dame d’Auvergne church council member and local historian Laurent Desrosiers explains— for many generations the prominence of the local church and the survival of French culture in the area were inextricably linked.

“People here in the community had big families, they were taught French by the nuns and life was centered around the Church,” says Desrosiers. “When I arrived in Ponteix as a Pioneer Grain agent in 1977, you used to go into a cafe and still hear a lot of French spoken. Not anymore. The future (of speaking French) is very bleak. The kids are totally immersed in English as soon as they leave the house— if there is French at home.”

Ernie Lemieux grew up in the French-speaking village of Dollard and moved to Ponteix in 1948 where he met and married his wife Yolande. Both Francophones, French was always the main language spoken in their home. Ernie, who still serves on town council, says the future of the French language in the community has to face the reality of a new burgeoning English, Phillipino and German-speaking population which has been


transition culturelle

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