As the town of Niverville continues to grow and change, so has the model of Niverville Healthcare Services Inc board.  

Town Councilor and board member, Nathan Dueck says about six months ago, it was decided to hire a consultant who would advise the board of NHCSI on how to plan for growth and be more efficient in the future.  

Dueck says, they were noticing that the NHCSI board wasn’t serving the area as effectively as possible. 

“What was happening is that we were making decisions on the board, which were already pretty much populated by town council members and then pushing that information through Council and almost doubling up on the scenario without having different roles and different opinions.” 

The consultant, Kathy McPhail, former chief executive officer of Southern Health–Santé Sud, was hired and asked to look at the role of the board for the medical facility in Niverville and make her recommendations.

Dueck says, they have been advised to revamp the board and expand it by bringing in two additional advisory councils. Dueck explains that the first council would be made up of community members.  

“This group would be composed of likely 8 to 10 different individuals, different walks of life, different experiences to advise, counsel on ideas, visions for the Niverville medical facility in the future and not have anyone from town council on it.”

Individuals that will fill the spots on this council would be Niverville and area residents, that have been nominated by the community, or voluntarily step forward to sit on the community advisory council. These individuals will be directly hearing from other Niverville residents and bring those suggestions to town council, which means,  

“It takes influence away from town council. We are now stepping back from the advisory board. Instead, they will be hosting community meetings and then bring that vision to Town Council. Like, how we can handle new immigration and like there's so many different things, especially if you're looking at long term to have that amount of knowledge and things passed down to us, it's probably way more effective than us trying to self-govern our own policies.”   

While the second advisory council would be made up of doctors from the current clinic, Open Health.  

The Medical Advisory Council is similar, where its 4 -5 members, who are also doctors currently on staff at Open Health, will advise and counsel about legalities of the medical profession. Dueck says, “To make sure that at the end of the day we're getting the message to the board and back to the clinic in a proper method. They are going to be able to decide as a group what they would like to present, when it comes down to, you know abilities of the personnel in the medical school.”   

With these two Advisory Councils in place, Dueck says, “Instead of us (town council) creating the visions and creating the needs and the wants that we want to put forward, it's more important to have the wants and the needs of the community brought forward to us, and then we’ll see if we can facilitate those within our clinic.” 

When asked what kind of ‘red flags’ did McPhail notice, Dueck says, “I think it's nothing that we've done wrong. I think there's growth in the scenario. This will likely not be the last change to our board structures. It's an evolution. So, we started off where the town purchased the medical facility for a dollar, and we've grown it and it’s become an extremely valuable asset, and we've kept medical facilities in our community and that's something that we've been carrying for the last year.” 

Dueck explains that their Open Health business model has been expanding and become even more community oriented and community owned.  

“With that we want more community input into it, as opposed to being something that the town is just running as a business.”  

Dueck notes that McPhail presented Town Council with 3 or 4 different scenarios and models and then after 6-months of research and conversations they decided on the two-advisory Board method.  

He says that financing and budgeting would still stay with the town, because it’s a community owned social enterprise.  

Dueck says, “It's really exciting transition at the end of the day, but it is scary, because you're basically saying, something that's so far has been working and there's nothing wrong with it, but we’re asking ourselves, is this current model going to work in the long run? Will it last another Municipal Election?”  

“It might completely fall apart, and that was one of the biggest fears at the end of the day, is that you ended up having a changeover in municipal government. And there are now individuals that don't have an interest in health, that don't have an interest in the social enterprise of the community, that don't have an interest in pursuing this further. And so, it's better to change it now while we can grow into it over the next three years, than run into a problem 3-4 years from now.” 

While some details still need to be ironed out, Dueck is confident that this is the best way to go.  

Dueck notes that the public will not notice any difference in the way Open Health Clinic will be run in the day-to-day operations.  

“This clinic is owned by the taxpayer of Niverville and the goal behind that at the end of the day is that people realize that and acknowledge that they themselves are empowered to grow that facility into something better, for their own community and do something to make a change within their community.” 


The following is the resolution as read by CAO for the town of Niverville, Eric King, during Town Council meeting on July 18, 2023.

“So whereas, a review of Niverville Healthcare Services Inc has been undertaken by Kathy McPhail to review the mission, vision and values of the corporation and Open Health, and whereas, the Council has accepted this and makes recommendation to a change in government, the structure to provide greater clarity and input from the physicians and the public to the NHCSI board; therefore, be it resolved that the NHCSI board membership be restructured to include all current members of Council plus ex officio members being the CEO for the town of Niverville and the business manager for Open Health Niverville, and be it further resolved that the town establishes two groups to advise any NHCSI board members on better or primary healthcare wellness. 1. A medical council proposed of physicians, the Open Health business manager and no more than one staff member Open Health and, 2. A community advisory board, comprised of the chairperson and no more than nine members representing specific interest groups as recognized by the NHCSI board supported by the Open Health business manager and required to meet before November 15th of 2023. And be it further resolved that members of the Advisory Board must be officially appointed by resolution of Council, with the terms of office to be defined for participating members.”