Options - Calgary Herald



Options - Calgary Herald
Albertans seek
solutions to
Options | Winter 2014
our goal is to help
people take control
of their health and
the health of their
loved ones so they
can fully enjoy all
that life has to offer.
preventous founder,
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath
Members of the Preventous team, from left, Barb Schafer, Fabijana Jakulj, Dr. Heather Taylor, Georgie Weeks, Shantelle Meaney and Dr. Rohan Bissoondath.
Family-centred clinic focuses on
disease prevention and improving health
Most people know you can prevent getting chronic and life-threatening
diseases. However, do you really know
how big a difference prevention can
really make? the folks at preventous
Collaborative Health do, and that knowledge is what drives them.
“the U.s. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 40 per cent of cancer
and 80 per cent of heart disease, stroke
and type 2 diabetes are preventable.
that’s why we exist and why we’re
passionate about what we do,” says
preventous medical director Dr. Rohan
It’s been six years since preventous
became Calgary’s first preventive health
care clinic and the number of families in
its twenty-Four seven Club has grown
extensively. Bissoondath says people are
realizing they can take control of their
health and why it’s so important to do so.
“people want the best for their children
and spouses, and for themselves. Growing
numbers are beginning to understand that
peak health is a foundation for everything
else,” says Bissoondath.
the warm, welcoming clinic delivers
Options | Winter 2014
all the services required to improve health
and prevent disease, from total health assessments and medical guidance to fitness
and nutrition consultation and psychological counselling. There’s even a fitness
facility on site where kinesiologists work
with you to create an activity plan and
monitor your fitness level.
Bissoondath says he incorporated
nutritional and fitness services into the
clinic because achieving and maintaining peak health is impossible without
knowing how to make healthy choices
in these areas. Having everything under
one roof also allows his medical team to
work directly with registered dietitians
and kinesiologists.
with its broad range of services and
commitment to providing care 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, preventous is a
busy place. But the experience it provides
is a relaxed one and patients get as much
time as they need.
everyone is welcome at preventous
— men, women, executives and even
corporate teams.
Families, however, are its specialty
and the preventous family loves working
with their youngest patients.
“to see them become more mentally
alert, more energetic, is wonderful. But
for us, the joy is in knowing that these
kids are going to be set for life. It’s such a
gift to them and an honour to help their
parents achieve that,” says Bissoondath.
what are preventous’s patients saying?
Here’s how one knowledgeable member
sums up his experience:
Preventous Collaborative Health
[M]y personal experience has been as positive
as I could hope for, and has established for me
an intimate relationship with a team of health
professionals who have my interests at heart and
take whatever time is needed to deal with those
From a corporate perspective, and from a
personal one, Preventous provides its services at an
investment cost, which seems to have an infinite
yield — given that I have access to the highest
quality health care on a 24/7 basis.
So why Preventous? I can answer for me by
saying that I have tried alternatives, and Preventous is ‘as good as it gets.’
n 24/7 Access to our
health-care team
n Total health assessments
n Executive medicals
n Fitness assessments
n Nutrition assessments
n Travel clinic
n Free consultations
– David Tuer,
former chair of the Calgary Health Region
1635 17th Ave. S.W.
Calgary, AB, T2T 0E5
Contact info:
Phone: 403-229-0129
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.Preventous.com
By the numbers
Albertans waited an average 2.4 weeks longer to
see a specialist physician in 2013 than they did a
year earlier.
$200 billion
Fraser Institute
Canadian spending on health care doubled
between 2000 and 2011 to reach $200 billion
per year, while all governments struggled to
improve service delivery. But all the money and
effort has had little effect.
Fraser Institute
39.6 weeks
In 2013, those requiring orthopedic surgery were
forced to endure waits of more than nine months
(39.6 weeks) to receive treatment, while others
had to wait for slightly more than four months
(17.4 weeks) just to receive an appointment with
a neurosurgeon.
Fraser Institute
18.2 WEEKS
Waiting times for elective surgery treatment have
increased to a total 18.2 weeks between referral
from a general practitioner and receipt of elective
Fraser Institute
In Alberta, wait times continue to increase, while
the provincial health-care system consumes
$17 billion per year, or 45 per cent of the
provincial budget.
is a special publication of the Calgary Herald
Publication date: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014
Special Projects Manager:
Monica Zurowski, 403-235-7291
[email protected]
Advertising: Lilian Jourieh, 403-235-7144
Hurry up and wait
Wait times in Canada hit a new record in 2013, and the results are
being felt in Alberta where a growing population strains the system.
Heart smart at home and in the U.S.
Cardiac patients in Alberta have many options to choose from when it comes
to gaining and maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Beating diabetes
Despite his regular exercise and efforts to eat well by following the
Canada Food Guide, a Calgary man was faced with fighting diabetes.
Fall prevention
Learn the steps to take to prevent falls as well as build muscle mass and
bone density through healthy diet choices.
Money well spent
Joining Provitol pays off big time in more ways than one for busy
No waiting ­— no stress
Investing in health care saved a Calgary man’s life, and possibly public health
dollars, had he landed in emergency with cardiac arrest.
It’s now or never
A Calgary man took matters into his own hands when he learned that his
hernia operation would not be scheduled for over a year after the initial diagnosis.
Cancer patients fly south
More and more Albertans are seeking cancer treatments at a hospital in
Health quarterbacks
Family health nurses can be the common denominator of multi-disciplinary
teams — ready, willing and able to go that extra mile.
Fraser Institute
Getting ‘back’ on track
A Calgary woman gets her active life back after travelling to
Kalispell, Mont., for back surgery.
Preventous Collaborative Health
Mayfair Diagnostics
Provital Health & Wellness
Canada Diagnostic Centres
Copeman Healthcare Centre
EFW Radiology
Project Co-ordinators: Darren Oleksyn, Jamie Zachary
Publication illustration: Charlene Kolesnik
Options | Winter 2014
Joy Feldman, 57, could barely walk because of back problems. After a Calgary surgeon told her he could do nothing for her, she went to the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
— Michelle Hofer photo
Montana surgery gives Calgarian ‘whole new life’
hen 57-year-old Joy Feldman
would walk the halls of the
seniors lodge with her 91-year-old
Aunt Minnie, people thought Feldman was
the resident there.
“My aunt could out-walk me,” says the
retired lawyer. “My back pain was so severe.
I was haggard, looked older than I was, and
had to use a walker.”
A Calgary surgeon told her he could do
nothing for her and she would have to live with
the pain. But after surgery at Kalispell Regional
Medical Center in Kalispell, Mont., the mother
of a teenager says she has her life back.
Feldman, who had previous sensitivity in her
back, injured it in 2011.
“It was very severe back pain. I couldn’t do
anything for very long without lying on the
ground to take the pressure off my back. I
could be walking the dog and have to lay down
in the dog park.”
She would walk hunched over, looking at
her feet, and relied on a walker or wheelchair.
Feldman, her daughter and her aunt, along
with other relatives, had already joined private
health clinic Provital.
Options | Winter 2014
“They are amazing — it is 24/7 service. They
do house calls, on-site tests, have amazing
services (dietitian, massages, kinesiologist) and
I wanted that kind of thorough care.”
She says chiropractic work and cortisone
shots through Provital helped alleviate the
pain for a while, but after time they stopped
She was referred to an orthopedic surgeon
— the one who told her she had to live with
the pain — and it took her a year to get an
When she finally got in, his office had lost
all her documents.
“He didn’t do a thorough assessment at all.”
Her Provital physician, Dr. Donovan
Kreutzer, recommended she check out
Kalispell Regional Hospital, a six-hour drive
from Calgary.
The northwest Montana facility offers
medical and surgical procedures ranging from
hip, shoulder and knee replacements to spine
and cancer surgeries.
Feldman says her appointment with
neurosurgeon Dr. Frank Bishop lasted more
than an hour and he also consulted other
doctors on the Kalispell team.
“He contacted me several times and talked
to my doctor and said while it was not clearcut, he felt he could help. It was a nightand-day experience compared to the Calgary
Surgery was available within weeks
and Feldman said the help of the centre’s
international medical services co-ordinator
was invaluable.
Last May, she underwent 2½ hours of
“minimally invasive surgery” that left her with
two small, 2.5-centimetre-long scars on her
The operation itself (L4-5 minimally
invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody
fusion or MISTLIF) involved removing
damaged disc material from the front of the
spine. A bone graft was then inserted into the
disc space, acting as a bridge, or scaffold, on
which new bone can grow. Screws and rods
were inserted to stabilize the spine as the
treated area heals and fuses over about a year.
This type of surgery starts at about $35,000
but, of course, depends on a multitude of
variables, including location of the fusion and
the amount of materials used.
“I was up and walking that night — with a
nurse and a walker — but I was walking.”
She had the surgery on a Tuesday and was
released on Friday. She stayed with her dad
and step-mom at a hotel close to the hospital
until leaving Kalispell on the following
Because sitting even six hours in a car to
return to Calgary after back surgery seemed
too onerous, Feldman took advantage of the
hospital’s medical plane for the trip home.
She describes her whole Kalispell
experience as amazing — “I will do anything
for those guys” — and her U.S. physician as
“a caring doctor and a caring man.”
Today, “I feel like I am in my 20s again. I
have a whole new life. I can do things with
my husband and daughter again,” she says.
Feldman adds that she feels so great that she
has been able to exercise about an hour a day
— something she hadn’t been able to do before
her back injury because of other health issues.
The surgery “was worth every penny”
she spent. With documents put together
by the hospital, Feldman did get a small
reimbursement from Alberta Health.
“It was expensive, and I am fortunate I
have the means, because I could have been
crippled for life.”
Would she do it again?
“In a heartbeat. I got my life back.”
so many health concerns
are interrelated,
that it makes sense to
collaborate and integrate
care with our team of
Doctors Donovan Kreutzer
and sarit sengar
The team at Provital Health & Wellness, located in Marda Loop, includes, from left, Dr. Sarit Sengar, Dr. Supriya Goyal and Dr. Donovan Kreutzer.
Provital delivers personalized health care
It’s been four years since doctors
Donovan Kreutzer and sarit sengar opened
the doors to Provital Health & Wellness.
before Provital, the doctors worked
together for several years at a typical hybrid
type family walk-in medical practice, where
it became apparent that the patient and
physician experience was deteriorating.
seeing patients wait hours to spend just
five minutes with the doctor was an underwhelming experience for patients and led to
management decisions where doctors had to
make “snap judgments.”
Due to the increased congestion of the
practice, simple administrative functions
like filing papers or sending out referrals to
specialists were delayed.
Doctors Kreutzer and sengar knew there
had to be a better way. they wanted the
practice of medicine to be more efficient,
with care provided in a more nurturing
environment, with a focus not just on the
problem at hand, but also on risk management and prevention.
Kreutzer and sengar believe they’ve found
that happy medium with Provital Health &
Wellness, which operates in Marda Loop in
southwest Calgary.
the clinic has grown along with the community. not only is Provital the community
family medicine clinic serving local patients,
but its central location provides easy access
for patients from all over the city and region.
Provital takes a more holistic approach to
health care, drawing on the expertise of a
wide-ranging team, including family physicians, a naturopathic physician, a chiropractor, psychologists, a dietitian, massage therapists, exercise kinesiologists, a pedorthist and
a pharmacist. timely and expedient referrals
are made to outside specialists, as well.
“so many health concerns are interrelated, that it makes sense to collaborate and
integrate care with our team of practitioners,” the doctors say.
at Provital, patients have access to physicians 24/7. the initial assessment involves
a complex examination and history by all
practitioners before a health-care plan is
tailored to each patient’s individual needs. It
is a fluid and flexible plan that evolves as the
patient’s health concerns change.
Provital Health and Wellness is now open
saturdays, allowing for greater convenience.
additionally, blood work is drawn on site via
appointments, resulting in shorter waits.
access to Provital’s team of practitioners, including workshops and boot camps,
involves an annual fee. Many packages
tailored to meet patients’ unique needs are
available. Discounted rates are available for
snowbirds and students. as well, Provital’s
administration staff works diligently with
patients and their insurance benefit providers to maximize claims for much of the cost
of their fees, if not the entire cost.
“It has been an exceptionally gratifying
experience, being able to practise medicine
like I had been trained to do in medical
school,” says Dr. Kreutzer. “this is a viable
option for all those who want to take a more
active role in their health care.”
“all of our practitioners are here because
they believe in this philosophy of collaboration in order to maximize the administration
and execution of preventative medicine,”
adds Dr. sengar. “this is ultimately the
forum of health care moving forward.”
Provital Health & Wellness offers a new
way of practising medicine that encompasses preventative care in a collaborative
setting, with a one-on-one personalized
approach that addresses each patient’s
unique health-care needs and goals.
Name: Provital Health & Wellness
Suite 204, 2031 33rd Ave. S.W.
Calgary, AB, T2T 1Z5
Contact info:
Phone: 403-685-4520
Fax: 403-685-4525
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.provital.ca
Services: Providers of thorough
and collaborative health-care
services to individuals, families and
corporate clients. Provital provides
timely, preventative & proactive
health care, with the services of
family physicians, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, nurses, dietitian,
exercise kinesiologists, psychologists, massage therapists, pedorthist and pharmacist on site — plus
numerous allied specialist partners.
Options | Winter 2014
Alberta wait times increase
to new record in 2013
With rising provincial health budgets barely making a dent in patient
waits, its time for change, says author of national study
lbertans waited an average 2.4 weeks longer to see a
specialist physician in 2013 than they did a year earlier,
according to the latest study by the Fraser Institute.
Total combined waiting times — from general practitioner to
specialist and from specialist to treatment — have increased to
23.1 weeks on average, from 20.7 weeks in 2012, for patients in the
Alberta health-care system. It’s the longest average wait time so
far recorded in Alberta and the increase is entirely attributable
to longer waits to see specialists, the Fraser report shows.
“The bottom line is, it was already too long,” says
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath, a general practitioner with the
Preventous Collaborative Health clinic in Calgary.
Bissoondath said he wasn’t aware of the added average
wait time because a two-week change is difficult for a
doctor to spot in the daily flow of patients being referred
to various kinds of specialists.
“But it’s important to know because we’re moving in
the wrong direction.”
He says he sees three causes for the slowdown.
“Rapid (Alberta) population growth means there are
just more people in the system; the population is
aging and the number of specialists isn’t increasing. What’s
odd is that we have specialists who are graduating, but we
don’t have places for them in the system,” he says.
Bissoondath pointed to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert
Hollinshead, former chief of surgery at the Peter Lougheed Hospital, who recently announced he will opt out of the Alberta healthcare system due to the waiting-list issue.
In December, Hollinshead said he will leave the government-insured system July 1. After that, he will be the only doctor in Alberta
direct-billing patients for surgeries performed at a private facility.
He told the Herald he will charge the same fees as medicare allows
— $700 to $1,500 for a shoulder surgery — but patients will see
a bill of $8,000 to $10,000, including implants, nursing time and
facility fees. And, under the Canada Health Act, that amount won’t
be recoverable from medicare.
Hollinshead said his private service isn’t aimed at the rich, but at
average Albertans who don’t want to wait up to 18 months to see a
shoulder specialist, plus six months to a year for time in an operating
room. He said he is aiming to prove that a combination of publicand private-care options will help to reduce waiting lists and make
more spaces available in the public system for some 150 orthopedic
surgeons he estimates will be unemployed across Canada by July.
Bissoondath applauds Hollinshead for pressuring for change.
“We’re just shifting the same deck chairs and making no difference,” Bissoondath says. “That’s the definition of crazy.”
Options | Winter 2014
Now Serving
“We’re moving in the
wrong direction.”
— Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,
Preventous Collaborative Health
Nadeem Ismail, an author of the Fraser Institute report, says total
Canadian spending on health care doubled between 2000 and
2011 to reach $200 billion a year, while all governments struggled
to improve service delivery. But all the money and effort has had
little effect. Fraser Institute figures show national average wait times
have risen from 9.3 weeks in 1993 to a peak of 19 weeks in 2011,
before improving slightly to 18.2 weeks this year.
“It (waiting time) stalled in the 16-to-19-week window and really
refused to come out of it,” he says.
After adjusting for inflation, Canadian per-capita spending on
health care has increased 46 per cent since 1995. And the
$200-billion annual cost doesn’t count an unfunded future
liability estimated in 2010 at $540 billion for those over the age of
Ismail says the unfunded liability implies future tax increases,
reduced health-care services or cuts to other government
In Alberta, wait times continue to increase, while the provincial
health-care system consumes $17 billion per year, or 45 per cent of
the provincial budget.
“The problem is that wait times are a way of rationing health care,”
Ismail says. “In Alberta, the money is there for accessibility. It’s a
policy issue.”
He believes Ottawa and the provinces have to open a discussion
with Canadians that will generate support for amendments to the
Canada Health Act.
“The right set of policies can provide a better universal health-care
system for everyone,” he says. “There are no waiting lists in Switzerland and everyone is covered. Health care is delivered when people
need it and not when the government gets around to it.”
In Switzerland, he says, government strictly regulates the provision of private health insurance to all citizens, with 40 per cent
receiving some level of government subsidy.
Heart Care
Many Canadian patients are coming to Montana health centres for cardiac treatments.
— Kalispell Regional Medical Center
The Copeman Healthcare Centre promotes preventative cardiac care.
— Copeman Healthcare Centre
Private health centres provide high-tech cardiac care
n Gord Opel’s neighbourhood of Whitefish,
Mont., nearly half the homes are owned
by Canadians, who, while away from
their primary residences, are not unlikely
to encounter a variety of health conditions.
Among these patients, a growing number are
seeking assistance with cardiac and vascularrelated conditions, from both a preventative
and rehabilitative perspective.
“The cardiac patient is one we’re seeing more
and more often,” says Opel, who works as the
supervisor of health improvement and business
development department at the Kalispell
Regional Medical Center in Kalispell, Mont.
“Whether they’re seeing the cardiology group
for a stent or booking an echocardiogram
(procedures that might take longer to schedule
north of the American border) the overall
volume of patients who are away from home
and coming in for procedures is growing. With
the opportunity for rehabilitation here, we’re
becoming a destination for Canadian patients.”
Some patients who have come in to measure
their cardiac function have subsequently been
diagnosed with heart disease and continue to
consult with the medical team via Skype or
telephone after they’ve returned home. Patients
with documented heart disease, and those
who carry multiple risk factors for it, are good
candidates for the cardiac rehab centre, which
is nationally certified through the American
Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
At the 115,000-square-foot medical fitness
and wellness facility called the Summit — the
largest of its kind in Montana — patients
are referred to programs offering clinically
supervised exercise with heart monitoring,
individualized treatment plans and dietary
counselling, healthy lifestyle education
classes and ongoing contact with physicians
regarding their progress.
But that’s not the only option Canadians
have for heart and vascular care in Montana.
At Benefis Health System, located in the
city of Great Falls, a new program offered at
the Heart and Vascular Institute involves a
procedure called electrophysiology that helps
to correct electrical disturbances in the heart
causing an irregular heartbeat.
“Within the electrical system of the heart,
there’s an impulse — like flipping a switch
to turn on a light — that causes the heart
to contract, which gets the blood from your
head to your toes,” explains Roxanne Klose,
the chief administrative officer of the Benefis
Heart and Vascular Institute.
“Sometimes, just like when you have old
wiring in your house or someone’s doing
something to upgrade it and the wire is cut or
damaged, you have an intermittent impulse to
the bulb, so it might flicker or maybe not turn
on at all.
“Our heart’s wiring can also have abnormal
pathways causing the heart to beat irregularly
or really fast. Electrophysiology does what is
called mapping, or looking at those electrical
impulses to see if there’s a pathway that needs
to be ablated or inhibited.”
Once the tissue that’s throwing out rogue
electrical impulses is destroyed with either
heat or cold, using catheters inserted into a
vein near the groin that goes into the heart,
the abnormal heart rhythm goes away and the
regular pacemaker of the heart can take over.
The procedure takes between two and eight
hours, does not require general anaesthetic,
and, if successful, eliminates the need to take
any medications to control the heart rhythm.
“It can be considered a cure for rhythmic
disturbance,” says Klose, who cautions that
an erratic heartbeat can lead to blood pooling
in the body, forming clots that can break off,
migrate and cause a stroke.
Other procedures offered at Benefis include
a cardiac CT scan that can be scheduled within
a week. X-ray images are taken of the heart to
detect calcium buildup in the walls of coronary
arteries, problems in the pulmonary veins and
heart valves and any risk of heart attack.
Stress testing can be also done, in
conjunction with ultrasound, echocardiography
or nuclear medicine, says Klose.
“If it looks like they have a blockage that is
pretty significant, we can take them to the lab
and do a heart catheterization where we look
at their arteries and identify if their plumbing
needs to be fixed with a balloon or a stent.”
Closer to home, for patients looking
for ongoing monitoring and prevention/
rehab programs that could be six months
in duration or more, Copeman Healthcare
Centre provides a private alternative in
Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
“We have programs that are suited for
people who have experienced heart attacks
or strokes or patients who have never had
a cardiac event, but are at risk for heart
disease,” says Lisa Kirk, a kinesiologist
who has worked within the cardiac rehab
“We assess the patient based on their
individual needs and determine what program
is best for them. Our team-based model
includes access to a registered dietitian,
exercise specialist, physician, family health
nurse, health coach and staff in psychology and
“Focusing on prevention is what we like to
drive home. We typically see patients between
the ages of 40 and 80, and both men and
women.… It’s not just a man’s disease.”
Options | Winter 2014
Alan Chan developed diabetes despite following the Canada Food Guide and getting regular exercise. The staff at Preventous Collaborative Health was able to get his blood-sugar levels in order.
— Adrian Shellard photo
Diabetes solution found for active Calgarian
Eight years ago, Alan Chan, a longtime runner without weight issues, developed diabetes.
“I had a very good doctor, but I was struggling to bring all aspects of the disease
together. I had to have quarterly fasting
blood tests and would end up waiting two
hours at a lab. And because I had run for 25
years, and was not obese by any standards, I
didn’t see diet and exercise as issues.”
“I travel quite a lot,” says the manager at a
large oil and gas company. “My children are
young and sometimes would have to go to
a walk-in clinic and wait for hours. We had
also just moved and our physician was way
across the city.”
Chan says his wife researched and visited
private clinics and settled on Preventous
Collaborative Health. She and their two
children joined Preventous, established six
years ago as the city’s first private preventative health clinic. The 54-year-old Chan also
signed up four years ago.
He pays for the services out of his own
pocket and has no problem doing so.
“We all have discretionary income and we
will sacrifice other things for our health. And,
the older I get, the more health becomes a
Options | Winter 2014
His experience getting his diabetes under
control has been a positive one.
The best thing about Preventous, he says, is
the team approach to his illness — the physician, the dietician and the personal trainer all
have access to his medical records and can
discuss treatment.
That meant two years ago, when the next
step for his disease treatment would have been
insulin, the Preventous team looked at his diet
and exercise regimen.
“I was basically following the Canada Food
Guide and exercising (intensely) a minimum of
three times a week.”
When the medical team reviewed his records, the dietician moved him to a low-carb/
sugar diet and the trainer upped his exercise to
50 minutes six times a week.
“I’m Asian and I eat rice so that was somewhat difficult. As for the exercise, I thought,
‘Who can do that much exercise?’ ”
He did follow the new program, however,
cutting his carbs to a piece of toast (a low
glycemic index brand) in the morning, a carb
equivalent for lunch and no carbs for dinner.
“For the first month, I was almost breaking into tears when I drove by a Tim Hortons
because I love doughnuts. But when you lay
off the sugar for a few months, you don’t miss
it after awhile.”
As for the exercise, the trainer told him his old
pattern of intense workouts wasn’t helping
him, and instead were producing sugar.
Chan now does light jogs around his
neighbourhood for 50 minutes at a time and
“it’s really enjoyable. I enjoy the sights.”
The combination of his medication and the
changes in exercise and diet succeeded beyond
everyone’s imagination, to the point where he
started getting hypoglycemic (low blood sugar).
“I was over-achieving. Again, the team
discussed it and cut my medication in half.”
Chan describes Preventous’ approach to his
illness as a “big success story — there was a
lot of discussion; a lot of fine tuning.”
But that wasn’t the only health issue Chan
says Preventous has helped address.
His mother died of heart disease and his
father had double-bypass surgery, so there
were risk factors in his history.
But because Chan worked out, didn’t smoke,
didn’t suffer shortness of breath and had a
good diet, he was traditionally thought not to
be a candidate for heart problems.
But Dr. Rohan Bissoondath, his physician at
Preventous, suggested he might want to pay for
a scan of his heart arteries. That scan discovered a 25 per cent blockage in an artery, showing development of cardiac disease, which is
now being treated aggressively with medication
Chan’s experience of
getting his diabetes
under control was a
positive one.
to lower his cholesterol.
“I was able to access the testing quickly and
saved the government a ton of money by being treated before I appeared in cardiac arrest
years down the road.”
Chan is also pleased with the service his
family receives, citing the case of his son who
suffered from asthma growing up and who,
when H1N1 was severe several years ago, was
suffering coughing fits.
“We phoned Preventous and within half an
hour a physician phoned back and called in a
prescription for our son, because he needed to
be treated.”
Chan describes himself as a big supporter of
the Canadian health-care system, willingly paying his taxes to support it.
“But I believe there should be options. I work
hard for my pay and should be able to spend it
where I want.”
Copeman healthcare
has introduced a highly
personalized and
service-focused approach
to personal, family and
corporate healthcare
that delivers excellence
in prevention and health
Dr. Pollie Lumby, family physician, Calgary Centre.
This year, plan for good health
The Copeman healThCare
CenTre set a new standard for primary
care in alberta when it opened the doors of
its Calgary Centre in october 2008.
The centre was developed to offer each
client a personalized and expert team of
professionals focused on all aspects of his or
her health.
The state-of-the-art, centrally located
17,000-square-foot facility was expanded in
2011, and a second alberta location opened
in edmonton in may 2012.
Copeman healthcare has created a Western Canadian network of doctors, specialized professionals and researchers to develop
and implement some of the most advanced
programs of screening, diagnosis, prevention and health management available in the
world today.
according to Ceo Chris nedelmann,
the company began with a simple premise
— to deliver unparalleled access to medical expertise while providing each patient
with a highly personalized and “unhurried”
In addition to expert doctors, the centres
are staffed with a complementary team that
includes psychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, physiotherapists, registered
dietitians, kinesiologists, exercise medicine
specialists, nurses, health coaches and other
specialized professionals who work together
for the early detection and treatment of
The centre is the only one of its kind to
have a program recognizing that complete
wellness must address all three areas of
physical, psychological and brain health.
Copeman’s brain health program is the
first of its kind and is focused on early intervention for age- and disease-related cognitive
Copeman healthcare has become
Canada’s leader in collaborative, team-based
health care, but the services and technologies
it has developed are now being shaped for
implementation throughout the world.
one of the centre’s greatest contributions to the field of prevention and health
management is its computerized health
management System, which is a secure,
online personal health record combined with
sophisticated risk assessments, health surveillance and self-management tools.
Changes in laboratory results and other
diagnostic measures trigger personalized
reminders about important risk factors and
transmit both positive and negative trends
to the patient’s health team. This advanced
technology is made available to every client
of the centre.
The centre offers a warm and comforting environment as well as an atmosphere
of genuine caring that belies the size and
sophistication of its operations.
“We are committed to a large, expert staff
and the most current technology and techniques, but creating a very personalized and
highly available service is just as important
to us,” says nedelmann.
“We have a simple motto, which is to
treat every client like we would have our
own loved ones treated. our clients’ health
teams are dedicated to them and committed to looking after every aspect of their
although the centre has numerous subscription programs and services, the most
popular offering is lifeplus, an all-inclusive
prevention and health management
The program includes a comprehensive,
four-hour annual health assessment and a
complete package of professional services to
support a client’s individual health plan.This
service costs $4,200 per adult in the first year
of service and $3,200 per year thereafter
and the enrolment team works with clients
to explore individual coverage as it relates to
employee benefits packages and tax deductible health expenses.
In addition to the comprehensive adult
health services, the centre also offers one of
the most advanced programs for the prevention of child illnesses available in the world
Copeman Healthcare Centre
Location: 4th floor,
628 12th Ave. S.W.
Calgary, T2R 0H6
Cristle Jasken
Phone: 403-270-CARE (2273)
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.copemanhealth
Services: Advanced personal
and family health care; 24/7
physician on call; integrated
physical, psychological and
brain health; exercise medicine
and physiotherapy; comprehensive health assessments;
corporate wellness; registered
dietitians; concussion management services; dementia and
Alzheimer’s screening; stroke
and brain injury rehabilitation;
integrated personal training;
integrated yoga training; cardiac
health and rehabilitation; health
coaching and therapeutic lifestyle change.
Options | Winter 2014
Every day in Alberta,
24 hospital admissions
and 66 emergency
department visits are
made due to falls.
The average length
of a hospital stay after
a fall is 20 days and
costs the health-care
system more than
— Thinkstock image
Stopping a dangerous fall before it happens
Falls are a normal part of aging — fact
or fiction?
Total fiction, says Lynda McPhee, the
education co-ordinator for the Alberta
Centre for Injury Control and Research.
“Many people say, ‘Well, I’m getting
older, so I’m going to fall.’ But there are,
in fact, many concrete steps they can
take to prevent this, from keeping active
to checking their medications,” says
As falls remain the leading cause of
injury for seniors, taking these steps will
be more important than ever, with one
in every five Albertans estimated to be a
senior by 2030.
Every day in Alberta, 24 hospital
admissions and 66 emergency department
visits are made due to falls. The average
length of a hospital stay after a fall is
20 days and costs the health-care system
more than $15,000. Besides being a
financial burden to the public system, falls
can also lead to a rapid decline in health
for seniors, especially for those who suffer
hip fractures.
“Mobility is something we take for
granted until something happens,” says
McPhee. “About 40 per cent of nursing
home admissions are the result of a fall,
while 20 per cent of seniors die within the
Options | Winter 2014
first year following a hip fracture due to
“It’s so important to raise awareness
about active, healthy lifestyles now.
Everyone wants to remain independent
and mobile and now is the time to be
taking action.”
At Copeman Healthcare Centre, a team
consisting of a sports medicine physician,
psychologist and a kinesiologist helps
patients detect balance issues early to
avoid devastating consequences later in
“Typically balance assessments are not
taken until individuals reach the age where
falling becomes an issue, but you get a
much bigger bang for the buck if you start
earlier,” says Copeman kinesiologist and
exercise physiologist Nadine Sinnen.
“We screen everyone from the age of 18
to 88 and make referrals to physiotherapy
and other programs as needed. Our older
patients will get exercise training that’s
more specific for balance, working on their
core strength and joint stability.”
Many factors may lead to loss of balance,
including health conditions such as
multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease,
inner-ear issues and less sensitive nerve
endings in the feet due to neuropathy
caused by diabetes.
A diet with adequate amounts of protein
is vital to maintain healthy joints,
a grounded centre and sufficient muscle
mass. Sinnen’s clients are advised to eat
about 30 milligrams of protein per major
“An example of a breakfast where you’re
getting about 25 to 30 grams of protein
might be a large glass of milk with 12 grams,
a boiled egg that has seven grams, toast
with three grams and peanut butter which
has four grams. A skim latte will give you
10 grams of protein, while three-quarters
of a cup of Greek yogurt will have 17
grams,” says Sinnen.
“We also encourage adequate vitamin D
levels in all our clients. Most patients’
levels are low, so we want to top them up
to maintain bone strength and prevent
fractures and because it’s harder to get it
from diet alone. We also advise 1,200 mg
daily supplements of calcium.”
The most important thing to remember
is that physical activity at any age makes a
“Some people might say, if they haven’t
been active so far, why bother exercising
at 80?” says McPhee. “The greatest health
risk for older adults is an inactive life.
When we’re young, we’re always doing
activities such as playing hopscotch to
challenge our balance, but we don’t do
as much when we get older. It’s never too
late to get active and take the necessary
steps to prevent a fall.”
Tips from the Alberta Centre for
Injury Control and Research on
preventing falls:
n Keep active. Exercise for
strength and balance at least
30 minutes a day.
n Watch your step. Look at
your environment, including
footwear, lighting and staircase
railings. Get rid of clutter.
n Check your vision. Early
cataract surgery reduces the
likelihood of falling, while
multi-focal lenses can cause
loss of balance by affecting
depth perception.
n Check your meds. Medications are a big risk factor for
dizziness. Review them with
your doctor or pharmacist to
see if you still need them and in
what dose. Ask about interactions with over-the-counter
products and alcohol.
n Speak to your doctor about
dizziness. This could be caused
by medication, a drop in blood
pressure or lying down and
then getting up too quickly.
Dehydration may also be a
cause; make sure to drink six to
eight glasses of water daily.
We need to look for
(heart) disease earlier on
so that we can identify
it and put treatments in
place that will reduce the
risk of a heart attack.
Dr. Stephen Valentine,
Mayfair Diagnostics co-director
Dr. Stephen Valentine of Mayfair Diagnostics says a CT scan that checks on heart health can be very helpful at identifying heart disease early.
Cutting-edge health services
Mayfair Diagnostics has been using cuttingedge technology to help patients since
opening its doors in Calgary in 1999.
The newly expanded clinic offers MRI
and CT scans on a private basis, enabling
patients to invest in their own health care
by providing fee-for-service computerized
tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) services. After a scan is
ordered by a physician, patients who prefer
not to wait for an MRI or CT scan within
the traditional health-care system can come
to Mayfair Diagnostics and have the examination completed within a day or two.
This quick response has made Mayfair
Diagnostics popular with patients ranging
from members of the Calgary Stampeders
and Calgary Flames to clients of the
Workers’ Compensation Board and other
government agencies.
Mayfair Diagnostics also sees many
patients from across Canada.
To accommodate the rising popularity of
its services and ensure the best possible care,
Mayfair recently expanded its facility and
upgraded its medical equipment, including
the addition of a second MRI machine.
Using the largest open magnet in the
province, the new MRI was designed to
accommodate people with claustrophobia
and larger patients.
A state-of-the-art CT scanner that delivers the lowest possible radiation dose was
also added to the expanded boutique facility
that boasts an open foyer and a spacious,
comfortable waiting room.
Another vital service offered is the
CT angiogram to test for heart disease, one
of the most significant illnesses in Canada,
affecting both men and women.
“I think this is the most important examination in medicine, as a substantial number
of Canadians die of cardiovascular disease
each year,” says Mayfair Diagnostics
co-director Dr. Stephen Valentine.
A CT angiogram is a scan that indicates
how open or closed a person’s blood vessels
are, and identifies whether there is significant
plaque buildup within those blood vessels.
Plaque buildup can lead to a heart attack.
According to Valentine, doctors in Canada don’t traditionally start looking for heart
disease until patients complain of symptoms
such as shortness of breath or chest pain.
“A significant number of Canadians die
during their first episode of chest pain. We
need to look for this disease earlier on so
that we can identify it and put treatments
in place that will reduce the risk of a heart
attack. You can affect the outcome by identifying the disease early,” says Valentine.
To this end, Valentine thinks the CT
coronary angiogram is the best method
for evaluating patients suspected of having
heart disease, as well as to confirm that
people who are at low risk have no significant disease.
“The new CT scanner is the most
advanced CT scanner in the world. It’s
probably the best way to identify whether
people have significant heart disease,” says
“If the disease is there, we can identify
it almost 100 per cent of the time, and if
there is no disease, we can tell people with
almost absolute certainty that, for the next
two, four or six years, their chances of having a heart attack, based on the narrowing
of their blood vessels, is essentially zero.
“It’s a great examination, and it’s currently underutilized. I think it’s going to
become more and more important and it’s
going to play a bigger role in health-care
management around the world.”
Mayfair Diagnostics
132 Mayfair Place
6707 Elbow Dr. S.W.
Calgary, AB
403-777-4MRI (4674)
or toll-free at 1-877-4CT-4MRI (428-4674)
• CT Coronary Angiogram
• Coronary Calcium Score
Heart health month pricing is available
for a limited time upon request.
Options | Winter 2014
Jamie Tiessen says he has lost weight and his health has improved, including his cholesterol level, since making use of the team of professionals at Provital Health & Wellness.
— Adrian Shellard photo
On-the-go businessman takes control of his health
amie Tiessen leads a busy life.
The broadcasting consultant
(owner of Tiessen and Associates) sat as
an Okotoks councilor for six years
starting at age 19; used to own radio stations in Airdrie and Cochrane; now sits on
various government boards; and produces
radio broadcasts for the chuckwagon races
at the Calgary Stampede.
He puts his heart and passion into his
work, spending quite a bit of business time
travelling and admits he doesn’t always pay
enough attention to his health.
But now, at the age of 31, Tiessen has
taken control of his health and wellness.
“I didn’t have great access to my GP (general practitioner), even though I had been
seeing him since I was eight or 10 years
old. He is a great guy, but it was tough to
get appointments.”
Tiessen says it was crazy “to fight” to get
appointments — even for his annual exam
relating to a bicuspid aortic valve that will
eventually have to be replaced later in life.
Options | Winter 2014
The fact that his GP was also heading into
retirement caused Tiessen to explore what
options were out there to help manage a
healthier lifestyle.
“There was no wake up call — no major
health issue. I wanted to lose a little weight,
but to generally, overall, just get healthy,”
he says.
While active in the summer umpiring baseball at all levels, Tiessen says most of his activity revolves around travelling the province
to various board meetings and hearings.
He joined Provital Health & Wellness last
August and says its services just “make life
Tiessen, who is single, works with a personal trainer at Provital two or three times
a week, has a weekly appointment with the
nutritionist (and other access whenever he
wants it) and knows there is massage and
psychologist services if he needs them.
Provital services also help with stress
management — “my stress is reduced. I am
aware of it and how to handle it.”
And he says the access to Provital doctors
is “phenomenal.”
It is not only easy to set up an appointment, but “where else can you send a note
to your doctor and get an answer the same
day,” Tiessen asks.
He describes Provital as an efficiency
model for the way the health system should
“It’s incredible — it’s the way a doctor’s
office should run.”
Provital, established by doctors Donovan
Kreutzer and Sarit Sengar, takes a holistic
approach to health care. Its Marda Loop
clinic has a team of family physicians, a
naturopath physician, chiropractor, dietitian, psychologists, massage therapists,
an exercise kinesiologist, pedorthist and
Patients pay an annual fee for services.
In the six months he has been at Provital, Tiessen says he has lost weight and
his overall wellness levels, including his
cholesterol, are coming into line.
“Everything is in one place at Provital.
I utilize 75 to 80 per cent of its services.
It is a slam dunk for me.”
Some of the expense of joining Provital
Now at the age of 31,
Jamie Tiessen has
taken control of his
health and wellness.
is covered by Tiessen’s benefits program,
but the rest of the cost he assumes
“If I pay a little extra for my health at the
end of the day, why not? It’s worth it.”
Having a clinic that is run efficiently by
a staff that has integrity, allows Tiessen to
put his time, energy and resources into his
business, and his health.
“I am not running off somewhere and
sitting in a clinic waiting for blood work
to be done (Provital does on-site blood
work). Every doctor’s office should look at
this model.”
Our vision is to
provide exceptional
patient care.
That is our
No. 1 priority
Stacey Purdy,
MRI and CT charge technologist
Stacey Purdy, MRI and CT charge technologist at Canada Diagnostic Centres, watches as a scan is done at one of CDC’s 13 Alberta locations.
Canada Diagnostic Centres
offers peace of mind to patients
Whether it’s an injury or a
potential disease, waiting for a diagnosis can
be difficult. Not knowing what’s wrong can
take an emotional toll.
If you want to take your health into your
own hands, Canada Diagnostic Centres
(CDC) can help, with its convenient and
affordable MRI (magnetic resonance
imaging) service.
As one CDC patient puts it: “I put more
money into maintaining my vehicle — why
would I not invest in my own health?”
The first step is always diagnosis, and MRIs
can be a valuable tool in this process. At
CDC, most appointments for MRIs are made
between within one to two business days.
An MRI is a state-of-the-art technology that
creates diagnostic images, with scans usually
taking anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour
to perform, depending on which body part is
being scanned.
“Our highly specialized radiologists read
these images and provide a diagnostic report
to the patient’s physician, usually within 24 to
48 hours of the scan being performed,” says
Stacey Purdy, MRI and CT charge technologist at Canada Diagnostic Centres.
“I want people to know they don’t have to
wait. Some things need to be dealt with right
away, and I want everyone to know you have
an option. We are lucky in Alberta —
not every province provides this choice.”
Purdy gives the example of one patient who
had hurt her knee and came in for a scan of
what she thought was a minor injury. While
scanning the area, the MRI found a malignant tumour, which was caught early and
removed, leading to a full recovery.
Calgary-based Canada Diagnostics Centres
is a leader in public and private medical
diagnostic imaging services in Alberta.
CDC is one of the largest medical imaging
providers in Alberta, with 13 clinics located
in Alberta (nine in Calgary and Okotoks, and
four in Edmonton and Sherwood Park).
CDC offers patients both convenience and
affordability. When patients choose Canada
Diagnostics Centres for their MRI or other
services, it means they don’t have to travel out
of country, or out of province, to have this
service performed.
“Our vision is to provide exceptional
patient care. That is our No. 1 priority,”
Purdy says.
“CDC director of MRI, Dr. Benjamin
Wong, always advises us to treat each patient
as family. We always strive to provide the bestquality images, the best patient care and the
best service for our patients.”
CDC is proud to provide exceptional
patient care while making timely MRI exams
more accessible and affordable for patients.
The GE Signa Excite HD 1.5 Tesla imaging
equipment used is among the most advanced
technology available and MRIs are read by a
highly trained radiologist.
With CDC’s private MRI services, patients
can look forward to flexible appointments at
convenient times, usually within one to three
business days.
CDC is committed to providing your
referring physician with detailed timely
reports so that, together, you can best manage
your health. All MRI services require a medical referral.
“In addition to MRI, we offer private computerized tomography services, along with the
following services covered by Alberta Health
— ultrasound, X-rays, mammagrophy, pain
management and bone-density scans.”
Private MRI and CT scans include preventative health scans such as joint, lung and
heart scans and virtual colonoscopies.
CDC also offers pediatric and adolescent
X-ray and ultrasound exams.
To book an MRI or CT scan, please call
Canada Diagnostic Centres
Locations: Nine in Calgary and
Okotoks; four in Edmonton and
Sherwood Park
Private MRI & CT
CDC Chinook
1-6020 1A St. S.W.
Calgary, AB T2H 0G3
Phone: 403-212-5855
1-877-420-4CDC (4232)
[email protected]
Web: CanadaDiagnostics.ca
Diagnostic medical imaging,
magnetic resonance imaging,
women’s imaging, pediatric
imaging, computed tomography
scan, preventative health scans,
heart scan, lung scan, virtual
colonoscopy, 2D ultrasound,
4D ultrasound, bone mineral
densitometry, gastrointestinal
studies, mammography, pain
management injections, pain
management therapy,
fluoroscopy, X-ray.
Options | Winter 2014
Cam White, president and CEO of a distribution company, learned shortly after joining Copeman Healthcare Centre that he had a 90 per cent blockage in an artery.
— Adrian Shellard photo
Early detection of undiagnosed issue impresses
am White is president and CEO of a
Canada-wide distribution company
that employs almost 500 people.
So business and customer service are
what the 67 year old has known all his
40 years working with the company.
When, as a customer, he felt the public
health system was not giving him what
he needed, the head of Taiga Building
Products saw no problem searching for a
private option.
Three years ago, that led him to
Copeman Healthcare Centre.
“I felt my health was important —
especially getting to my age — and I
wanted a one-stop shop. I’m in business and
I understand meeting customer needs.”
White says his work life is busy, including a fair amount of travel, and “time is
important to me. I am an impatient person
and this suits my lifestyle. I don’t have
time to run around to different doctor
Instead, at Copeman, he has the
Options | Winter 2014
convenience of a team of medical experts,
including physicians, dieticians, physiotherapists, exercise medicine specialists
and health coaches.
And, he says, knowing Copeman has
everything he needs, “takes stress off of
yourself. You’re not worrying about your
health or going to appointments all over
the place.”
Right after joining the private facility,
Copeman caught a health issue the father
of two didn’t even know he had.
“They did the full gamut of tests and
found I had a 90 per cent blockage in an
artery. I was admitted to hospital to get
a stent (a small mesh tube that’s used to
treat narrow or weak arteries) and they
have been watching it ever since.”
He said Copeman caught it “right now.
They knew something wasn’t right.”
White’s daughter has also joined
Copeman and is an enthusiastic advocate.
As a mother of a five-year-old and an
entrepreneur who also has a demanding
job running her own business, White says
she needed to take her son (born
premature) to medical appointments that
fit into her schedule.
“Copeman is there 24/7. My daughter
says joining it was the best thing she has
ever done.”
As for the fee he pays for the private
service, Whites describes it as “nickels
and dimes for what you get. The value is
He has sought the expertise of the nutritionist and physiotherapist at Copeman
and says he expects to use more of the
diverse services as he gets older and heads
into eventual retirement.
“I know everything is there if I need it.”
Whenever people ask him about going
outside of the public health-care system,
White says he has a story for them.
“I had a situation a couple of years ago
when a grand dog fell ill. We took it right
into the vet, it was immediately operated
on and all was well.
“My question is, why would I do that for
a dog and not for myself. (Being a customer of Copeman) is immediate care for your
health — right away.”
At Copeman,
Cam White has the
convenience of a
team of experts that
includes not only a
team of physicians,
but also dieticians,
exercise medicine
specialists and health
To our knowledge, no
one in North America,
and certainly not in
Alberta, has approached
MRIs the way we have.
It’s a flat-rate pricing
structure. For that one
visit, we will do as many
imaging exams as is
medically appropriate.
Patients pay one price per visit
at EFW Radiology
MRIs ARE BECOMING more accessible to people in the Calgary area, thanks
to EFW Radiology, a specialist group of
radiologists providing comprehensive diagnostic imaging services for patients and
their doctors.
EFW Radiology operates 11 clinics in
the Calgary area, including a community
clinic in High River and one in Airdrie.
EFW also provides all radiology services at
the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), is
one of many private medical services EFW
offers. MRIs can detect abnormalities by
producing detailed anatomical images,
providing important information to aid
diagnosis and treatment. EFW Radiology
believes in making MRIs more accessible
in order to help patients and their doctors
find answers to their medical questions.
Recently, EFW Radiology launched
private MRI services that are available under a new flat-rate pricing structure, One
Visit, One Price. Patients pay one fee and
receive an answer to a single medical ques-
tion — no matter how many areas of their
body require imaging. EFW Radiology has
introduced One Visit, One Price in order
to answer patients’ questions appropriately,
working in partnership with a patient’s
“The difference is a flat-rate pricing
structure, so that people get answers to their
questions. They’re not making decisions
based solely on economics,” explains EFW
Radiology CEO Nairn Nerland. Traditionally, he notes, clinics charge by body part,
which typically results in increasing cost as
multiple body parts require imaging.
“To our knowledge, no one in North
America, and certainly not in Alberta, has
approached MRIs the way we have, in a
private community environment. It’s a flatrate pricing structure, so you are charged
one price of $600 ($850 with contrast). For
that one visit, we will do as many imaging
exams on you as is medically appropriate.”
This new approach is based on the model used at the Foothills Medical Centre and
at other tertiary hospitals, Nerland says.
“In a hospital, you don’t make a decision
based on body parts — you image as many
(body parts) as necessary to find an answer
to a patient’s medical problem.
“This gives people an option. In private
MRI, we are establishing a new way to
approach this, which is in the best interests
of the patient and the referring physician.”
he says.
“That’s what this is really about — it’s
the right thing to do. It really does address what people’s needs are. We are very
proud of this — because we are trying to
make things work for people better than
they ever have before.
“The other thing is, we also believe this
helps relieve some of the pressure from
the public system in terms of the wait lists
for public access to MRIs. By coming to
the private world, it helps alleviate that
pressure point. On a macro level, it’s good
for the overall population in Calgary who
need access to an MRI.”
For more information, please visit
EFW Radiology
Locations: Eleven in the Calgary area including a community clinic in High River and one
in Airdrie.
Phone: 403-541-1200
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.efwrad.com
MRI, general X-ray, ultrasound,
mammography, bone mineral
densitometry, nuclear medicine,
body composition analysis, pain
management, maternal fetal
medicine: ultrasound, consultations, first trimester screening,
fetal echocardiogram, amniocentesis test, clinical assessment, diagostic ultrasound,
therapy prolotherapy, platelet
rich plasma (PRP), tenotomy,
rotator cuff lavage, peripheral
nerve injection, nuclear cardiology, myocardial perfusion imaging and prostate biopsy.
Options | Winter 2014
Andy Farvolden wasn’t able to ski, golf, hike or lift his grandchildren because of a hernia. When told the wait for surgery would be a year or more, he had the procedure done in Montana.
— Adrian Shellard photo
Debilitating hernia cleared up shortly after U.S. visit
or Andy Farvolden, who just turned 70,
the worst thing about his hernia was
not being able to ski, golf, hike … or
pick up any of his six grandchildren.
The chartered accountant, who still works
part time, first had his hernia tentatively
diagnosed by his son, a doctor in Baltimore,
and then, in Sept. 2013, by his Calgary family
The following month, his appointment with
a consultant surgeon was confirmed for the
beginning of June, eight months down the
Farvolden was told his actual surgery to
repair the hernia would be another four to six
months after meeting with the surgeon — in
other words, more than a year, minimum,
after his initial diagnosis.
“I was aware of the strain in my body. It was
uncomfortable to do things in my normal life
like standing up for a long time, walking for a
long time, lifting and picking up a grandchild
off the monkey bars or even bringing in bags
of groceries.
“If I went to walk any distance, I felt
something different. It restricted what I did.”
And, of course, there was the knowledge
of the consequences of not fixing the hernia
(which occurs when an organ or fatty
Options | Winter 2014
tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a
surrounding muscle or connective tissue)
could be anything from extreme pain to
obstruction/strangulation of the bowel, which
can lead to death.
In the end, he knew the hernia had to be
taken care of and he did not want to “put my
life on hold for a year.”
And in Canada, with the realization that
“I’m not 30 years old, with a job and young
kids — and I wouldn’t be at the top of the
list for surgery,” the “very active outdoors”
Calgarian decided he had to look elsewhere
for the service.
“At my age, I can have years left and I did
not want to sacrifice them.”
A widower — his wife, a Calgary family
physician for 30 years, died a year and a half
ago — Farvolden and his family had a place
in Whitefish, Mont., and knew the area well.
“We occasionally had the need to make trips
to the (North Valley Hospital) with our kids
or with visitors. We knew, and were happy
with, that hospital.”
North Valley Hospital is a one-hour drive
south of the Canadian border crossing at
Coutts, and is located at Highways 93 and 40
in Whitefish, Mont.
A full-service hospital, it also has specialty
technologies for gynecological and urological
procedures, orthopedic surgeries, single-
incision laparoscopic surgeries performed
through the navel for a nearly invisible scar
and other surgeries including general, colon,
ear, nose and throat, reconstructive and
So with the help of Farvolden’s doctor son,
inquiries were made as to the kind of surgery
North Valley performs, about the quality of its
surgeons and about what kind of traffic the
hospital saw for hernia surgeries.
“I was very impressed with the detail that
came back to me and in mid-November I
made an appointment, got in my car and
went to chat with the surgeon.”
He was also impressed that once the
Whitefish surgeon found out his son was
a doctor, he offered to follow up with him,
as well, about his findings and any possible
“He showed me the openings he had for
the procedure at that point — and in fact, he
had a cancellation and could have done it the
next day.”
That was a little too soon for Farvolden, but
as he was heading back to Calgary his phone
rang and it was his physician son.
“He had already talked to the surgeon and
agreed with his approach completely.”
The father of three says his kids were
supportive about his travelling to the United
States for the surgery — “they said you have
the means (the total cost of his medical
services was $6,800), go do it.”
With both father and son confident
about the North Valley Hospital operation,
Farvolden phoned the hospital when he got
home and booked surgery for Dec. 3.
He went in the day before for pre-operation
tests and after surgery, stayed in Whitefish for
four days.
The hospital called his residence 24 hours
and 48 hours after he was discharged to
ensure the patient did not require any further
medications or assistance regarding his
recovery program.
A friend drove him back to Calgary.
A month after his surgery, he returned to
North Valley for a checkup and “everything
was fine.”
So fine, in fact, he went skiing for the first
time since his diagnosis.
As for his experience at North Valley,
Farvolden has nothing but positive things to
As a finance person, Farvolden says it
befuddles him why Alberta, with its fiscal
health, does not embrace a position as a
medical mecca.
But with no change on the horizon, he is
thankful for Montana’s North Valley.
“They are very professional and very caring.
They take good care of you.”
— Thinkstock image
Arizona cancer hospital attracts Canadian patients
s more and more Albertans spend time
in second homes in Arizona, private
medical facilities such as the Mayo
Clinic have seen more Canadian patients.
More Albertans also appear to be getting
cancer treatments there, as well.
There has been a rise in interest from
Canadians in Arizona in the past four years,
says Jaci Brown, growth/director of market
development of the Cancer Treatment Centers
of America in the Phoenix area, though she
adds they haven’t really targeted that market.
“They are visiting here, investing here,
moving here and working remotely here and
we have been moved to look at providing answers,” says Brown. “Right now, we are looking
at understanding the needs of our markets —
the patients, the caregivers, the physicians.”
Started 25 years ago in Chicago, Cancer
Treatment Centers of America now has five
medical centres (Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tulsa and Phoenix).
The facility in Goodyear, in the metropolitan
Phoenix area, was opened five years ago and,
in 2013 alone, saw 7,829 patients, an increase
of 11 per cent from the year prior.
Richard Stephenson started CTCA after
the death of his mother, Mary, from cancer.
He searched for a facility that offered an all-
encompassing treatment for his mother’s illness
and, when he couldn’t find it, decided to create
one himself.
Brown describes CTCA’s personal approach
to cancer care to mean that along with a focus
on advanced technology and having the top
experts in the cancer fields, “we also focus on
the side-effects of treatment.”
She says cancer treatments can often make
a patient ill and that impacts his or her quality
of life.
“It means they are often stuck at home,
placing more weight on caregivers and it also
means if they are ill, their health declines because they can’t eat and their nutrition declines
— and then they have to skip further cancer
treatments,” says Brown.
CTCA offers a nutritionist and a
naturopath who provide supplements
to help with treatments. A team is solely
focused on body/mind therapies, including
dealing with psychosomatic issues.
“It is the full-person treatment; it means a
patient doesn’t have to spend all their time
driving around to get all the different services.
There is one team.”
One of the other important focuses of
CTCA is easy and early access.
“What we do is eliminate the stress for patients
— the feeling that things are out of their control.
One day can feel like a year,” says Brown.
“We give them test results as accurately and
as quickly as possible. We get you into the facility quickly and within three to five days tests
are conducted and results are given.”
Brown says the CTCA model is that “time is
critical. If there is something suspicious, you
want to know right away.”
The cancer hospitals offer the Mother Standard of Care, the kind of care Stephenson had
been seeking for his own mother.
“Our patients are treated like part of the family,” says Brown.
Phoenix’s CTCA focuses on five cancers:
breast, lung, gastrointestinal, prostate and
skin. It only treats patients aged 18 and older
(“to treat children is a unique process and we
would want to create something separate if we
were to be in that field,” Brown says).
Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer in the U.S.
and Arizona has the second highest rate of skin
cancer in the world.
The cost to patients of accessing care
at CTCA is hard to estimate, says Brown,
“because it can go from everything to just
monitoring to complex procedures. But we
have a very strong financial team that works
with the patient before they come. We want
no surprises — that gets back to the stress. We
don’t want the patient to be wondering what it
is going to cost.”
Brown expects the demand for the centre’s
Phoenix’s CTCA
focuses on five
cancers: breast, lung,
prostate and skin.
resources to continue to grow as boomers age
and more people, including Canadians, learn
about CTCA’s services
Several physicians from Canada have already
toured the Arizona facilities, she says.
“They were interested in how quickly we can
treat and what we can offer that can then be
followed up in Canada.”
The hospital is looking at providing educational opportunities for physicians in Western
Canada on emerging precision medicines and
new techniques and procedures, Brown adds.
And they will also be probably looking at
recruiting physicians.
“We are very impressed by Canada’s medical
Options | Winter 2014
— Thinkstock image
Nurses often underutilized in public health system
Niki VanStaden and her four fellow family
health nurses at the Copeman Healthcare
Center in Calgary are “the quarterbacks” of
multi-disciplinary teams providing service to
private clinic patients.
“Each person on the team has a significant
role and the nurse is in the centre, keeping
patients connected to all the other team members,” says VanStaden.
After spending more than eight years in
the public health-care system as a nurse,
VanStaden joined Copeman a year and a half
Despite talk of reform of the public system,
she says highly skilled nurses in doctors’
offices still primarily focus on tasks such as
taking a patient’s blood pressure.
“Nurses have a wealth of knowledge and
experience and they are normally underutilized. Unfortunately, reform never seems to
In the private medical system, a team
approach and patient service model goes
hand in hand.
Options | Winter 2014
For American hospitals catering to Canadian
patients, for example, a nurse “concierge”
is often employed to help with continual
communication with clients before and after
surgery. At Kalispell Regional Medical Center
in Montana, a registered nurse acts as the
international medical services co-ordinator,
aiding in everything from how to access the
hospital, surgical details, follow-up checks
and the provision of documents to help with
any health-care reimbursements.
At Copeman — which operates private
clinics in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver
— the focus of the family health nurses is on
prevention, with each full-time nurse responsible for the patients of two doctors.
“It is a more in-depth continuum of care,”
says VanStaden. “We keep the radar on the
patients, watching closely.”
That includes, she says, one-on-one consultations, making sure medication is being
taken properly, blood-pressure management,
diabetes management and referrals to specialists at the clinic that include physicians,
dietitians, kinesiologists, physiotherapists and
As a case manager and the main communicator for the team, VanStaden says nurses
ensure patients receive more personal attention so issues can be caught before a crisis
happens. The emphasis, she says, is on health
coaching; helping patients take ownership of
their health.
“It can be everything from making sure
medications are taken on a schedule to the
major modification of diets or incorporation
of an exercise program” with team specialists.
And, as baby boomers age, VanStaden says
chronic disease management will become
even more important through this multidisciplinary approach.
The extra focus on patient care, has not
only resulted in patients happy with their
care, but also in improved medical results,
says the Copeman organization.
For example, 74 per cent of its clients meet
the target international standard for blood
sugar levels, compared to the Canadian average of about 50 per cent.
Perhaps the greatest testimonial on the team
approach and its focus on patient care comes
from the patients themselves.
A nurse “concierge”
is often employed to
help with continual
communication with
Right after Calgary business owner
Cam White joined Copeman, the clinic
caught a health issue the 67-year-old father of
two didn’t even know he had.
“They did the full gamut of tests and found
I had a 90 per cent blockage in an artery. I
was admitted to hospital to get a stent (a
small mesh tube that’s used to treat
narrow or weak arteries) and they have
been watching it ever since.”
He said Copeman caught it “right now.
They knew something wasn’t right.”
Options | Winter 2014
Options | Winter 2014

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