Construction is set to begin next month on a for-profit medical clinic in a partnership between a Winnipeg businessman and Long Plain First Nation.
The $20-million facility will be built on the First Nation’s urban reserve in Winnipeg. The First Nation will own the building, which will be leased by a company owned by internet pharmacy owner Daren Jorgenson.
Jorgenson plans to offer a wide range of services, including elective MRI scans, dental care and blood and urine tests. He hopes to partner with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Manitoba Health to offer public services, including a family practice, walk-in care and endocrinology.
“Hopefully we’ll have a contract with Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Manitoba Health to do public pay, and regardless of whether we have a contract … we’re also going to do private pay,” he said.
By offering these services in a private, for-profit facility, Jorgenson believes he can provide them at a lower cost, he said.
“Our mantra is we’re confident we can do three things: we can increase access to health-care services, we can increase the quality of those health-care services delivered and we can do both those things while reducing cost to the payer.”
Jorgenson said he hasn’t had any discussions yet with the provincial government about partnering with public health care.
“We’re very sensitive to taxpayer, we’re very sensitive to the government dilemma they find with the health-care budget, and we think we can be an innovative partner with Manitoba Health and the regional health authority,” he said.
The goal of the facility is to offer services for patients in Manitoba who are not satisfied with wait times in the public sector, Jorgensen said.
The facility is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete.
Jorgenson has been involved in several medical businesses in Winnipeg, including opening Four Rivers Medical Clinic and starting CanadaMeds.com, an internet pharmacy company.
For-profit clinics pop up
This isn’t the first private, for-profit MRI clinic proposed in Manitoba. The Town of Niverville partnered with a private company to open a diagnostic centre that will include an MRI.
Jorgenson also partnered with Roseau River First Nation to open a for-profit medical clinic on their urban reserve in 2007.
Although the Canada Health Act forbids charging a fee for any medically necessary services, Jorgenson said the act doesn’t apply when a clinic is on a reserve.