Health services not expected until the spring
Written by: brian palaschuk & john loeppky (sports writer & editor-in-chief)
The University of Regina has been without a medical clinic since June 2019. In not renewing the clinic’s lease, campus administration made the University of Regina one of the only universities of its size without physician support. Dean of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Harold Riemer, said that the decision was made before Alliance took over from the previous leaseholder.
“In short, their lease was up. So, that contract goes back almost 15 years and some form of Alliance Health, different companies [. . .] and a number of years ago when Alliance was coming, the university made a decision that we would not renew the lease when it was completed.”
Dean of Nursing, david Gregory said that the version of the clinic decided upon by campus is one focused on the work of nursing practitioners, despite the negative effects faced by the student population.
“So, we’re aware that moving the clinic off campus would be somewhat of a burden for students and staff so we’re looking at a clinic on campus, managed by nurse practitioners who are faculty members in our faculty [nursing] and that’s for the clinic proper.”
“And then, we’re also looking at involving as many disciplines as possible to engage in what Alliance didn’t engage in and that is health promotion and prevention on campus. So, we want to establish peer-to-peer groups of students and faculty. So, for example, one of the focal areas could be mental heath and wellbeing and for sure we want to talk about sexually transmitted infections and all kinds of stuff that would be of interest to fostering the health of students on campus. So, actually I think you’re going to see, eventually, much more programming for the campus community than what was present before.”
Riemer said that the clinic will only offer “basic services” and Gregory said that the timeline for the opening of the clinic is still unclear.
We’ve yet to determine what the programming will be but you’ll see that the clinic will be open and available to the student population.”
Riemer said that the clinic, unlike Alliance across the street, will not offer doctors as part of its offerings.
“There won’t be any physicians on campus, but in large part nurse practitioners can handle most things that physicians are able to deal with, particularly with this population. Our students are generally healthy individuals, they’re not typically sick or aging, and that sort of thing.”
Riemer said that Alliance “took their lab with them” and that the campus cannot afford to replace the x-ray machine that was also removed as it was not owned by the University of Regina.
Gregory could not provide a specific opening date, and said, “predicting opening times of clinics and so on is fraught with difficulties, but I think our best estimate would be spring or early summer of 2020.”
Gregory also noted that the clinic may have to move from its previous location in order for it to be used more.
“I think one of the principles is for the clinic to be in a high student traffic area, right, and I think where the clinic was previously was very difficult to find and a lot of people didn’t even know that the clinic was on campus. So, whatever happens, I think there’s a commitment to try to find some space that will maximize student access.”
The clinic’s previous location, across from the second floor gym area in the Centre for Kinesiology, Health, and Sport, is now filled with faculty staff as they await the renovations of their area on the first floor. The decision to move the clinic would be made by the campus’ space allocation committee.
Riemer clarified the current use of the space, some of which is being used for a physical therapy that, at the time of the interview, was set to begin in late November.
“That space that Alliance occupied, or part of it, is being used by us temporarily because our main office area, where we have been is being renovated. So, we’re all up there, our whole academic operation and our ancillary operation is housed out of that space right now and when we get back into downstairs then a determination is yet to be made where our health programming will operate out of, whether it will stay in part of that space or if it will move to another location in the building, but we haven’t been given any notice.”
Riemer said he “wish he knew” what was going to happen in the short and long-term. Unlike Alliance Health, whose services were open to the public, Gregory said the new iteration will be limited to students at the beginning.
“So, we’re going to start off strictly for students and after about a year in operation we’ll evaluate whether we can expand the services to the entire campus.”
Gregory pointed to how many out of town and international students could be serviced by the clinic, and said that “fifteen to seventeen hundred Indigenous students” could be served by the currently non-existent space.
The University of Regina sent out an email in early June detailing the move, but the process has been slow moving. With the current timeline given, the campus will go without medical services for an entire school year.
“The University, through the Faculty of Nursing, is currently in the process of establishing a primary health care drop-in/appointment clinic focusing primarily on the needs of our students. The clinic is expected to open this fall and although the location and hours of operation are not yet finalized will provide services five days a week, Monday to Friday. The new clinic will ensure we meet the needs of students and also help address the professional practice requirements of nursing faculty (nurse practitioners) and students who need to maintain practice while teaching and/or studying. In addition to the nurse practitioner clinic, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, through the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre for Health and Human Performance, will contract with individuals for the delivery of allied health-related services (i.e., physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists, etc.) to address the needs of our students, student athletes and the campus community.”
Alliance could not be reached for comment.