Family health units in the north are getting a funding boost.
The province has announced $5.9 million for primary care teams. That includes $1.3 million for Timmins clinics at the East End Family Health Team and the Timmins Academic Family Health Team. That funding is expected to open up primary care access to 10,000 people.
“This is about getting better service to the people in our community,” said Timmins MPP George Pirie at the announcement.
The East End Family Health Team is located in Porcupine at Northern College. It is receiving $470,000 to increase staff to help provide 4,400 more patients with primary care services. The Timmins Academic Family Health Team will receive $903,500 to support 6,500 more patients.
There is not a solid timeframe yet on when hiring will start for these teams, but discussions between the family health teams and the province are ongoing.
For the East End Family Health Team, executive director Katherine Harvey said the money brings a level of hope to the healthcare crisis in Ontario.
“There are thousands of patients in Timmins alone that don’t have a primary care provider, so it brings hope that they will be attached, that their health is going to be properly looked at,” she said. “Cancers are going to be detected, chronic disease is going to be detected, even acute illnesses are going to be detected and patients are going to be able to live longer and happier and healthier.”
Primary care teams can include doctors, nurse practitioners, registered and practical nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, dietitians, and other services a patient may need. The team can also act as a link to specialized services and early detection of larger health issues.
According to the province, there are 1.3 million people without a primary care provider in Ontario.
Harvey said that the people who are working in healthcare and studying to be nurses, nurse practitioners or any other position, can inspire people to want to take up those professions.
“The nurses right now who are working, they’re working because they’re passionate, because they care and it’s in their blood,” she said. “A lot of nurses say ‘I do this because it’s who I am, it’s not a job’ and I think if that passion is talked about and shared, it’s going to inspire younger generations.”
The Timmins Academic Family Health Team is happy about the announcement and expanding its team.
“Since our inception, this is the largest increase that provides us with the opportunity to expand our services. This is one step in the right direction to improve access to primary care,” said executive director Mélanie Ciccone in a news release.
Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) will also be receiving $1.4 million for new facilities in the James Bay region.
Lynne Innes, WAHA’s president and CEO, said the funding will go toward running primary care services in Moosonee and along the James Bay coast.
“It’s really exciting and long overdue,” she said. “We don’t have any specifics yet, but we don’t have our planning well underway and hoping to open doors as soon as possible.”
The other funding in northeastern Ontario is:
- $623,143 to Haileybury Family Health Team, Kirkland Lake Family Health Team, Temagami Medical Centre and Family Health Team, Great Northern Family Health Team, Cobalt Medical Clinic, and Latchford Medical Centre
- $355,000 to Centre de santé communautaire de Kapuskasing et région, Kapuskasing and Area Family Health Team
- $180,000 to Chapleau and District Family Health Team
- $180,000 to Wawa Family Health Team
- $355,000 to Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team, Manitoulin Central Family Health Team, Municipality of Assiginack Family Health Team
- $923,500 to Centre de Santé Univi Health Centre covering French River and the Sudbury East area
- $474,872 to Elliot Lake Family Health Team