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Local Clinic awarded prestigious honour

Nicholas L. M. Allen

May 8, 2024

The Crowsnest Medical Clinic will get the Healthcare Heroes Award at the beginning of June.

The Crowsnest Medical Clinic (CMC) is set to receive the esteemed Rhapsody Healthcare Heroes Award for 2024 from the Alberta Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) on June 6. This recognition celebrates the exceptional contributions of the clinic’s dedicated team to the local healthcare landscape and the broader community.

“The last few years have been challenging, to say the least, and through it all the Crowsnest Medical Clinic has remained committed to providing primary care services for our community,” said Robin Thoen, the Clinical Care Coordinator for CMC, “This hasn’t been easy with physician shortages, health care crises, and organizational changes, but throughout all this the CMC has worked tirelessly to ensure that the community continues to be well cared for. Of course, we always strive to do the best with what we have, and this award feels like a wonderful validation of those efforts.”

Despite challenges in staffing, the clinic has remained steadfast in its commitment to providing accessible and reliable healthcare services, including 24-hour emergency care, mental health support, women’s health services and a walk-in program.

“It is an honour to even be nominated for this award,” said Dr. Kristy Penner, Rural Family Physician at Crowsnest Medical Clinic, “Rural Alberta is full of Healthcare Heroes and to have been awarded this award definitely acknowledges the dedication our team has for the residents of Crowsnest Pass.”

The clinic’s unwavering dedication to patient care has garnered widespread acclaim, clear in the 13 letters of support received during the nomination process. These letters, including endorsements from community organizations and clinical patients, underscore the clinic’s profound impact on the lives of those it serves. 

Dr. Penner extended a thank you to Monica Zyla who helped coordinate the nomination, even though she does not have a regular family physician.  

“The fact that she recognizes the high quality of care the Crowsnest Medical Clinic provides to the community is a blessing,” said Dr. Penner, 

“The team has worked hard to provide high quality primary care despite the loss of physicians and other team members.  It is nice to have the hard work recognized.” 

Innovative solutions have been established to help the entire community have access to primary care.  

“Our entire team is committed to continuing to recruit physicians and other team members to our Crowsnest Medical Clinic to provide the high quality of primary care this community has come to expect,” said Dr. Penner.

As a University of Calgary teaching clinic, the Crowsnest Medical Clinic has not only provided essential healthcare services but also served as a nurturing environment for medical students and residents to hone their skills. In recognition of its exceptional educational contributions, the clinic was honored as the best rural education site of the year in 2022.

Moreover, the clinic’s initiatives have inspired the creation of the I Saved a Life Awards through the Chinook Primary Care Network, further showing its commitment to patient advocacy and support within the healthcare system.

“Our patients are not anonymous health numbers on a task list. They are friends, family, our children’s teachers, or the clerk at the grocery store.... Rural primary care is just different. It requires a level of care and compassion that extends beyond individual patients. It must extend to the community as a whole, with a unique appreciation for the interconnectedness inherent in small towns like ours,” said Thoen, “I am proud to work with such an amazing team of individuals, whose unique skills and experiences allow us to continue to provide this kind of care for our community.”

Beyond its clinical duties, the clinic’s staff actively engage with the community through volunteerism and sponsorship of local events and initiatives. Their involvement in community boards, sports clubs, and charitable fundraisers exemplifies their dedication to fostering a vibrant and supportive community fabric.

“All team members have worked hard to maintain a high quality of care at Crowsnest Medical Clinic despite the challenges,” said Dr. Penner, “It is great to reflect, but also start planning more innovative ways to provide primary care to the clinic in a team based environment.”

The selection committee, including esteemed healthcare professionals and community representatives, praised the clinic’s diverse contributions and commitment to rural healthcare excellence. To commemorate this achievement, RhPAP will be organizing an appreciation event and award presentation on June 6, celebrating the clinic’s remarkable achievements and impact.

The recognition event will not only honor the clinic’s outstanding contributions but also spotlight its invaluable role in promoting the health and well-being of the Crowsnest Pass community. 

“This is really a team award,” said Dr. Penner, “The physicians have showed commitment to Crowsnest Pass, by maintaining all services at the local hospital without any service disruptions.”  

She commended the front reception, who are “ambassadors at the entry way to the clinic,” and the LPNs who help field phone calls and solutions for inquiring patients. 

“The entire team understands that preventative care is important, even for the residents of the community without a family physician,” said Dr. Penner. 

Visit to learn more about the award.

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