A new medical imaging clinic has opened in Cold Lake. The clinic offers a wide-range of imaging; including x-rays, mammograms, bone density tests, ultrasounds and radiology scans. The City of Cold Lake, lobbied and supported Dr. Chander Gupta’s clinic, CGA Medical Imaging Inc, which officially opened October 16th.
Dr. Gupta says he fell in love with the City and wanted to see it grow, “I’ll be honest with you, when I came to Cold Lake, I only came here for six months.” In 2009, the doctor was waiting for his licensing and then he had planned to move on, he even had another position as a department head in another province. Cold Lake quickly became home and he couldn’t leave, “I found a very nice community, but a very big need for health care.”
That’s how his journey to opening CGA Medical Imagining began, “as the population grew, quite rapidly, I thought it would be better if we could have more facilities; especially mammogram screening and bone density scans.” Services that were unavailable in Cold Lake and the Lakeland area. Patients had previously had to travel to Edmonton to receive the services offered at CGA Medical Imaging or use a mobile clinic for mammogram scans, something Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland calls, “ridiculous.”
“Nothing was available here,” explains Dr. Gutpa, “that’s when I started talking to Craig [Copeland] about what we should be doing. We tried first to enhance the services at the hospital, but because of different reasons it was not in the near horizon.” It was then the doctor decided to build the clinic. “I’m a firm believer that people should not be travelling three or four hours just to get an ultrasounds, breast screening, or bone density. I realized if we were going to provide really good services to the community, we have to do it right away.”
The City of Cold Lake lobbied Dr. Gupta to set up the clinic, including finding the building space, helping secure the contractor, Sieko Construction, and regular air travel to and from Calgary. Mayor Copeland says one oil company was extremely helpful in the process, “getting him on the plane with Cenovus was a win we had. Cenovus has been a great company, in terms of getting a dedicated seat. Remember when the oil patch was humming, to put a seat on that plane every Tuesday and Thursday for the doc and his staff was incredible.”
The Mayor explains Dr. Gupta could’ve set up his clinic anywhere and the City is grateful he chose Cold Lake, “he could be in Calgary and we wouldn’t have this service. But because of the man his is and the relationships he’s formed with our council and our community, and the doctors. He has a great repore with the doctors in Cold Lake and Bonnyville. What he saw was there was such a backlog of patients that people were going to Lloydminster or to Athabasca to get an ultrasound. That’s why he did this, he was frustrated and he wanted to serve the people.”
Dr. Gupta is very grateful to the oil company for offering a seat on their plane, “my sincere thanks to Cenovus. They have been giving me a ride for the last three years, with the Mayor’s help I was given a permanent seat on their plane. When I knew I had a confirmed mode of transportation from Calgary to Cold Lake, I could move forward. Otherwise, it would be very difficult.”
The clinic includes state-of-the-art equipment, including a mammogram machine that is so technically advanced it is the only one in Canada. Along with state-of-the-art equipment, the clinic employs trained technicians to operate the machines. A patient can book an appointment at the clinic, with a doctor’s requisition, the technicians perform the scans and sends the images back to the family doctor to read and diagnose. In cases of mammograms, any woman over the age of 40 can receive a mammogram without a doctor’s referral. Services are covered through Alberta Health Services (AHS), there is no out of pocket expense to the patients.
Mayor Copeland says that without the support of AHS to fund equipment, doctors, and staff there will be more private health services popping up all over the province. “[Dr. Gupta] saw that the government, that AHS, wasn’t going to be investing in our hospitals anytime soon. So he took it upon himself to open this clinic.”
“Private healthcare is coming to a community near you,” states the Mayor with a sly smile, “it just came here. We all have to roll with it.” Dragging their feet may be beneficial to the government Copeland explains, “here you have a man, who’s invested four or five million [dollars] for the equipment. Think of the amount of money he’s just saved the Alberta government.”