NATIONAL

A classifying error or a bit of politics?

COLIN CAMPBELL February 18 2008
NATIONAL

A classifying error or a bit of politics?

COLIN CAMPBELL February 18 2008

A classifying error or a bit of politics?

COLIN CAMPBELL

When Randy Spielvogel launched his business, Mobile Life Screening, in Winnipeg last August, he had no shortage of clients. Within a few months, as many as 500 Manitobans had paid $139 to bypass a months-long wait list and get screened for potentially fatal vascular diseases that cause strokes and aneurysms.

Then, in January, it all came to a grinding halt. The province said it erred when it told Spielvogel in 2006 that his business didn’t fall within the bounds of its health act. In fact, it did, and it would not be approved as a laboratory, the province concluded last month. The ruling not only forced Spielvogel to shutter his business in Manitoba—and set up shop across the border in North Dakota—but it has landed him in the midst of what he sees as another battle pitting the long queues of the public health care system up against the burgeoning private health care industry. “They’re saying they made a mistake in classifying us,” says Spielvogel, an ultrasound technician. “To us, it sounds like politics.”

Spielvogel continues to screen dozens of Winnipeggers who make the hour-long drive to North Dakota (where he sets up temporary clinics in local churches and nursing homes). Meanwhile, he’s appealing his case with the province. The government insists this is not about shutting down private clinics. The move was based on concerns about quality of care, the lack of a registered local

physician directing the lab, and even the need for such a service in Manitoba, says assistant deputy minister of health Terry Goertzen. “We believe Manitoba patients who see their doctor can access these tests relatively quickly [between four and 12 weeks],” he says.

Undeterred, Spielvogel argues he’s only offering what the province can’t in a timely way. If all else fails, he hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit against the government. “Our goal,” he concludes, “is to operate in Manitoba.” M