The Burns Lake Medical Clinic Society is still struggling to raise the approximate $250,000 necessary to start up their not for profit medical clinic. So far the group has approximately $27,000.
The society had originally set February 2012 as a target date to open their not for profit clinic in Burns Lake but is now hoping to be opened by August 2012.
Donna Brochez, society president said to Lakes District News that the society is yet to make an application to any financial institution for funds to help with the start up costs. “We are still working on fine tuning the business plans before we submit them to a financial institution. We are still moving ahead with this and we hope that our mandate of opening a not for profit medical clinic will become a reality in the next few months.”
As a separate initiative from the society, Maria Varga, who has been working with the society to develop the businesses plan for the clinic is now running a private medical office assistant course.
While a certificate will be issued upon completion, Varga said to Lakes District News that the course is not certified. Varga said her credentials will be listed on the certificate for prospective employees to see. “I will also be providing references for the people taking the course if any future employer needs one. I have approached the College of New Caledonia (CNC) Lakes District campus several times about teaching this course as an opportunity for Burns Lake residents. I have pointed out the economic and training development opportunity that this course could provide to the community.”
Varga said, “The college indicated to me that there is not enough positions available in Burns Lake to support the medical office assistant course. I would like to know how many opportunities or positions there is available for the business administrative assistant course, or any other course CNC is running in Burns Lake? I also approached the Burns Lake Band as I had interest from First Nation young adults in the course. Unfortunately the Burns Lake Band wasn’t interested in this economic development opportunity either,” Varga said.
“I am disappointed in the Lakes District Health Network, the Village of Burns Lake, the Burns Lake Band and mostly CNC for not supporting this initiative. This is about individual gain, it is about a community moving forward with true developmental opportunities, opportunities that will create employment for the residents of the community, either in this community or in another. I have been more than willing to provide the support and progression this community is in dire need of. It is always disappointing when a few bad apples spoil the entire batch.”
Joan Ragsdale, CNC Lakes District regional director said that CNC already offers a medical office assistant program online.
“It is a provincial collaborative course,” Ragsdale said, adding that a number of colleges have joined forces to offer the course. “The course is set to a provincial standard, it’s a certificate course and it’s certified.”
Ragsdale said if local residents have an idea for a course that is not already offered at CNC the college would have to find funding for the course and there would have to be enough student demand for the subject. Ragsdale said that a local ‘in classroom’ course could not be started with less than 10 students. “We would have to write grant proposals to get funding. We did let Maria Varga know that we already offered an online course,” Ragsdale said.
Varga said her course is a true economic development opportunity. “Not like Northern Development Initiative Trust. What a joke that is. Where is the support [for the proposed clinic] anyway? They have all this money, yet they have offered nothing to Burns Lake outside of loan guarantees and a couple of grant writers. Great opportunity for economic development don’t you think? Who needs another loan? This community needs true economic development, not more loans or part time grant writers,” Varga added.
“It is a natural progression to offer a job to the top students of the class, having said that, no guarantees of any sort have been implied or made to any of the current students about a job at the society’s proposed clinic. The clinic will be following standard hiring practices of competition advertisements for any and all of the jobs that will be available. I am not sure if I can say the same about other organizations in the community,” Varga added.
However, during a recent council meeting society member Paula Van Tine announced to mayor and council that Varga will be hired by the society as the director of the medical clinic office, once it is up and running.
Donna Brochez, society president said to Lakes District News that Van Tine’s statement was incorrect. “The position of medical director will be advertised and will be open to anyone to apply for. We want to be completely transparent with everything we are doing. Maria has been volunteering for us. She has developed the business plan and unofficially, her volunteer job has been the manager, which is what Paula should have said to council. She has 18 years of experience in this field and it is hard to find someone with that amount of experience who is willing to work for free. No one is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. The position will offer a competitive wage but all of this still has to be hammered out and can’t be done until we get funding in place,” she added.