As published in the Edmonton Journal on July 26, 2012
A VIBRANT DEBATE has begun in Edmonton over the last two weeks as select neighbourhoods received an exclusive invitation to join a private health-care clinic. The innovative Copeman Healthcare Centre recently opened the doors of a new 9,500-square-foot facility in the neighbourhood of Glenora. The exclusive invitations to join the clinic caused critics to charge that since some residents received them and others didn’t, it must therefore be an exclusive service not available to everyone.
The controversy is nothing new to a company that pioneered private health care in British Columbia nearly seven years ago and transplanted the model to Alberta with the opening of its first clinic in Calgary. At that time a group of protesters demonstrated outside the facility with signs that read “Health not wealth.”
That initial sentiment was echoed again recently in an article that appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that criticized the new Edmonton clinic for being elitist. The article referred to the clinic as “an elitist health boutique,” a “spa like, world-leading, preventive health-care service” that serves “well-heeled clients” and offers “private-boutique screening so exotic that you rarely see it in the public system.”
Company chairman and founder Don Copeman denied criticism that his organization was run like an exclusive club and argued that services were open to all.
“We don’t deny that we have exceptional standards for client service and evidence-based care,” said Copeman, “But the fact remains, Copeman Healthcare is not just for high-income families, it’s for anyone who cares deeply about their health. We will happily invite residents of any neighbourhood to join our clinic whether they received an invitation or not.”
Copeman said patients ranged in age, gender and income levels and that the clinics regularly serve everyone from newborns to the elderly. But with program fees in the range of $1,400-$4,000 a year, the upscale clinic may well appear more like a private club than a service for just anyone.
According to the centre’s executive director Rick Tiedemann the annual fee has not deterred clients from quickly filling the first clinical team’s roster. In fact, response has been so strong that the clinic is actively recruiting staff to accommodate a second roster.
“Each member of the first clinical care team was uniquely chosen for their exceptional credentials and passion for collaborating,” said Tiedemann, “so understandably we’ve set the bar very high for the second team.”
Copeman Healthcare set a new standard for primary care in Alberta when it opened the doors of its first 17,000-square-foot facility in Calgary in 2008. The company now expects to do the same in Edmonton. Fees charged cover the services of an inter-disciplinary team of dietitians, exercise medicine specialists, nurses, health coaches and other care providers who work in conjunction with the clinic physicians to develop a personalized prevention and care plan tailored to the unique needs of each client. The clinic also boasts psychologists and neuropsychologists to fully treat one’s body, mind and brain. Members receive an annual comprehensive health assessment that involves lab work and other advanced diagnostic tests to check heart, lungs, eyes, ears and look for 12 types of cancer or other health concerns. More information about the clinic can be found on the company’s website at www.copemanhealthcare.com or by calling Treena Popowich at 780-455-2273.