Family Health Team

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Powassan & Area Family Health Team - Update May 2011

Since the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care (MOHLTC) granted our area a Family Health Team (FHT) in August 2010 there has been a lot of work done preparing for the official launch of the FHT in August 2011. An independent not-for-profit corporation has been formed, the Powassan & Area Family Health Team (PAAFHT). The initial Board of Directors (3) and a Project Manager has the responsibility to work with MOHLTC to bring the FHT to operational status, and then to oversee the long term operations of PAAFHT with a goal of bringing improved primary healthcare access and local services to the residents within the large catchment area.

The boundaries of PAAFHT stretch from Loring and Restoule in the west to Chisholm Township in the east, and from East Ferris in the north to Trout Creek and Laurier in the south. Within these boundaries over 12,000 people reside. It is estimated that over 5,000 do not have access to a family physician and many others are rostered with doctors outside our area due to lack of healthcare professionals. The ultimate goal is to be in a position to have primary healthcare available locally for all those without a doctor and avoid visits to the hospital ER or walk in clinics in North Bay or elsewhere.

PAAFHT has submitted a business plan to MOHLTC outlining our goals and objectives and a request for the funding needed to achieve the same. Upon approval of this plan the Ministry and PAAFHT will enter into a long term contract with the MOHLTC.

The key to long term success will be our ability to recruit more physicians to join our current group of three (Drs Saltstone, Woodward, Houghton and Seguin). Having a vibrant family health team where professionals can exchange ideas and work as a group is the model that new doctors are seeking. The existing Powassan Medical Center will be the initial location (with Dr Seguin at his Astorville location). We hope to have a new facility to work out of in the future too. Recruitment and retention are a vital part of the plan, and we will be promoting this whole area as a wonderful part of Canada for doctors to practice under a collaborative healthcare system. We have an active recruitment committee and have already had expressions of interest from several doctors and med students who recognize that Family Health Teams are the model for the future of primary healthcare delivery.

It is important to manage expectations. The official launch of PAAFHT this summer will not mean any huge overnight changes. We currently have the three doctors and they already have about 5,000 patients rostered, which is above the provincial average. The addition of a Nurse Practitioner will at first allow the waiting times to be reduced. The rostering of new patients will come as the FHT evolves and new doctors are recruited and the IHPs collaborate with the physicians, and efficiencies are attained.

In order to get rostered with a new doctor, or one of the current ones (as their patient list allows), it is important to register with Health Care Connect (HCC). It is a simple process that can be done online or with a toll free phone call. We urge residents without family doctors to call 1-800-445-1822 or visit www.ontario.ca/healthcareconnect. All you need is an Ontario Health Card and a few minutes to answer some confidential questions about your health. Once registered with HCC , which is an arms length MOHLTC agency, a person is in the system and eligible to be rostered on a doctor’s patient list as space becomes available. Rostering simply involves signing a form to indicate that Dr X is your primary physician. Building the database of non-rostered patients also helps PAAFHT and MOHLTC plan, and serves as a potential patient list for attracting new doctors.

When we are able to roster new patients priority will be given to those registered with Health Care Connect.

When PAAFHT is fully operational, a range of programs will be developed by the team. Two of the first programs to roll out will address diabetes and mental health. Eventually waiting times to see a healthcare provider will be greatly reduced and longer clinic hours will be offered. We stress that this will take time, the Family Health Team is an evolution, and will be a new concept in primary healthcare for our residents.

PAAFHT is grateful to our current doctors for their support and advice throughout this process, and also to Mayor Peter McIsaac and Powassan Council for allowing liberal use of its facilities and staff as the Board of Directors works to bring this dream to reality. The Municipality of Powassan is not only providing interim funds for necessary FHT expenditures, that will be repaid as soon as MOHLTC funding flows, but it is committing to invest significantly in ongoing annual support for the Family Health Team. Without this support the new era of primary healthcare in our area would not be possible.

The Board of Directors of the Powassan & Area Family Health Team
Sheila Latour, Chair
Dr. Ken Runciman, Vice Chair and Lead Physician
Roger George, Director

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466 Main Street PO Box 250 Powassan, ON P0H 1Z0 | Phone: 705-724-2813 | Fax: 705-724-5533 | info@powassan.net

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