Medical services are one of the most essential parts of a community.
For 65 years, the Associate Clinic (Associate Medical Group) has been providing outstanding medical care to Central Alberta.
The roots of the Associate Clinic actually go back more than a century. In 1903, Dr. John Collison arrived in Red Deer and became one of the best-known pioneer physicians in the region.
He also served as the City’s mayor.
In 1927, with his wife’s health beginning to fail, Dr. Collison, together with his partner, Dr. C.W. Sanders, decided to sell the practice to Dr. Charles Bunn.
Dr. Bunn was a member of one of the oldest families in Western Canada. Thomas Bunn arrived in 1796 with the Hudson’s Bay Company, eventually ending up at Old Fort Garry.
His son John (Charles’ great-grandfather) became the first practicing physician west of the Great Lakes.
Dr. Bunn quickly established a strong practice. He also became very active in the community. He was elected to City Council in 1937 and served as an alderman for 10 years.
During the Second World War, the shortage of doctors in Red Deer became critical. By 1944, there were only two physicians practicing in the community – Dr. MacGregor Parsons and Dr. Bunn.
Moreover, Dr. Bunn served as the medical officer for the A-20 Army Camp north of 55 St.
Consequently, Dr. Bunn made the recruitment of new physicians to Red Deer an urgent priority as the War drew to a close.
In 1946, he founded the Associate Clinic with Dr. Gardner Craig, Dr. Jack Mitchell and Dr. Bill Carter.
Dr. Craig had very distinguished war record. He had been a medical officer with the 3 Canadian Division and was one of those who landed on the beaches on D-Day.
Dr. Mitchell had joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (R.C.N.V.R.) as a medical officer and served on the H.M.C.S. Wallaceburg.
Dr. Carter was a medical officer in the R.C.A.F. and had also served overseas. He was an avid sportsman.
Once in Red Deer he became very active with the Red Deer Gunners, a hockey team made up largely of members of the militia, and later with the Red Deer Rustlers.
Thus, when the Associate Clinic opened in 1946, it was well “balanced” with veterans of the Army, Airforce and Navy.
Also, once the new practice was firmly established, Dr. Bunn devoted more time to municipal affairs. In 1947, he was elected mayor, serving until 1949.
During the 1950s, Red Deer became the fastest growing city in Canada. The demand for physicians exploded.
The Associate Clinic began to expand, with Dr. Rod Chadwick joining in 1953, (he became the first internal medicine physician), followed by Dr. W.S. Bryk, Dr. W.J. McLuhan, Dr. F.J. Ward, Dr. W.O. Onerheim, Dr. R.C. Cooper, Dr. J.Y. Yeung, Dr. R.M. Hulyk and many others.
As the Clinic continued to grow, it expanded from the small building at 4820 Gaetz Ave. into the adjoining former Imperial Bank (present site of the Bunn Building).
However, by the mid-1960s it was obvious that much more space was needed.
Consequently, in 1968, a 15-year lease was signed for the Anderson Block at 4728 Ross St.
The Associate Clinic continued to flourish. In 1972, the Clinic took on the training of medical students and interns.
By the early 1980s, the Clinic had grown to 11 physicians. In 1982, a move was made to a brand-new building at 4705 – 48 Ave.
The physicians with the Associate Clinic have been very active in the community.
For example, Dr. Cooper served as a public school trustee from 1968 to 1973, including a two-year term as board chair. Dr. Cooper also served as a coroner for a great many years as have Dr. J. Hopfner and Dr. Konynenbelt.
Dr. Cooper and Dr. Hulyk are past presidents of the Alberta Medical Association and were on the board of the C.M.A. Dr. Hopfner served with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. S. Hovan is past president of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.
Today, the Associate Medical Group (as the Clinic is now known) is the largest family medical practice in Central Alberta with 18 family physicians. In addition to its strong emphasis on family medicine, the A.M.G. provides excellent seniors’ care and low risk obstetrics. A.M.G. has helped to pioneer a primary care network in the community.
In 2010, the Walk-In Clinic was expanded at a new site at the Bower Mall, while the main clinic on 48 Ave. has been extensively renovated.
The anniversary and the completion of the renovations to the Clinic will be celebrated with a special ribbon cutting ceremony June 29th at 9 a.m. (cake to follow).
More information on the official re-opening and anniversary celebrations can be obtained from Dianne Klassen, the Clinic’s business manager at 403-346-2057 or 403-755-7500 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also the Clinic’s website www.associatemedicalgroup.com.