Is there a Doctor in The House?

Is there a Doctor in the House? Make that the Municipality!Is there a Doctor in the House? Make that the Municipality!

Where there is a community there is always a need for medical services. Providing care for each resident has sometimes been challenging in the past but always a priority. Throughout the history of the RM of Cartier, medical services have been available in some form or another. Here is a brief summary of how our area has tried to provide the medical services required.

Starting back in 1893, the first doctor for the area was hired for $500 per year and spoke up for the community about the requirement for clean water after he noted that much of the illness in the area was related to the small river that ran through the area and its use as the primary drinking water source.

In 1915, just after the incorporation and the creation of the Municipality, Dr. G. L. Marsolais was hired to be the area’s medical health officer. He was instrumental in making sure that the population was vaccinated and during his time, he dealt with a severe scarlet fever outbreak. At the end of WW1 in 1918, Canada was struck with an influenza epidemic that claimed many lives. Schools in the RM of Cartier were closed, and the municipal office had to appoint people to take over and maintain services to the population. Dr. Marsolais’ case load was noted as being "unthinkable”. There were numerous letters of condolence sent out to grieving families from the municipal office. Dr. Marsolais worked within the municipality until 1936.

Council arranged for the care of the tuberculosis patients in the area to go to the Ninette Sanatorium in 1925. During the 1930s the polio epidemic had the Council going on record as being responsible for any extended medical attention required. The local government also hired a Public Health Care nurse in 1942 for the area.

Jumping onward in history, in 1981 Dr. Uma Viswalingam became the resident doctor and set up practice in the old Credit Union building on Main Street in Elie. By 1982, through the joint effort of the then Fire Chief Roger Gillis, the Public Information Officer Murray Lewis and the Health Services Commission of the Province, a group of first responder volunteers was trained and gained certification. An Emergency Response Rescue Van was also purchased with the help of funding by the community clubs, businesses and Hutterite colonies. 1985 saw the opening of a dental office also in the then Medical building.

Dr. L. Johns became the resident doctor in the mid 80’s and helped to institute pharmaceutical services at the clinic. He left in 1988 and the medical practice for the area was taken over by Dr. G.R. Maharaj.

The construction of the present Cartier Medical Centre was completed in 1991. The idea for a new Health Centre was launched in 1989, after it was determined that the space of the existing building was too small and the doctor and dentist occupying the building had to use it on alternate days to accommodate the growing patient population. The present facility is 3551 square feet and was designed space to house a doctor, dentist, and a public health nurse, and was capable of accommodating another health professional. As well, there was a multi use room available for public health related meetings. The official opening took place December 7, 1991.

In 1992 Drs. Lawson and Pass set up dental space in the new building and Manitoba Family Services leased space for their needs. Dr. D. Sokolowski began an agreement as a resident physician through the Medical Internship program offered by the Province and approved by Council.

In 2000 a contracted physician services agreement was made between the Regional Health Authority of Central Manitoba Inc and the Municipality. Dr. J. Malmstrom began practice in 2002 and continued to provide care until 2013. Dr. Girgis opened a practice and walk-in clinic in 2011.

A new dental practice, Elie Dental has opened in the Postal Building in 2013 and a full service pharmacy is located in the Cartier Clinic for all residents to use.

With the closure of both doctors’ practices, a new arrangement made through the Southern Regional Health Authority involves doctors coming to the Elie Cartier Centre from the Portage Clinic. The six doctors maintain their practices in Portage but designate one day of each week to come out to the Cartier Clinic site to provide walk-in and family care. Any resident who wants to maintain their medical relationship with a doctor can now easily do so as the records are available electronically at both the Cartier Medical Centre and the Portage Clinic site.