Greater access to doctors and nurse practitioners announcedFriday, March 23, 2012 by: Carol Martin
DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP
Orazietti announces greater access to family doctors and nurse practitioners
Province continues increasing access to primary care providers and health care services in Sault Ste. Marie
SAULT STE. MARIE - David Orazietti, MPP was joined today by local health care professionals representing the Superior Family Health Team, Algoma Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic, and the Physician Recruitment Committee to highlight the significant progress that has been made increasing access to family doctors, nurse practitioners and primary care services for Sault Ste. Marie’s residents.
“Our government has made unprecedented investments in health care in Sault Ste. Marie and we are continuing to deliver improvements to front-line health care by providing greater access to family physicians for individuals who do not have a doctor,” said Orazietti. “We have made it easier to locate primary care providers in the community by creating the Health Care Connect service and we have invested in new delivery models, such as the Nurse Practitioner-led Clinic, that are increasing access and we will work tirelessly until every resident in Sault Ste. Marie has a doctor or nurse practitioner."
In dramatic contrast to the actions of past provincial governments the current government has increased health care funding by over 60 percent since 2003, increased medical school training spaces by 38 percent, increased nurse practitioner training spaces by 135 percent, opened the first new medical school in 30 years, more than doubled the number of training spaces for foreign trained doctors and licensed more new physicians than at any other time in Ontario's history.
In order to attract more physicians to the North, the province created the Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative (NRRRI) and the Postgraduate Return of Service Program, which are already responsible for attracting several more physicians to Sault Ste. Marie.
Ontario is also the first province to invest in Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics and the province has created important programs, such as Health Care Connect, to accelerate the process of finding a family doctor.
The Northern Ontario Medical School is helping deliver more health care professionals to the community while also having the added benefit of providing the opportunity for medical students from Sault Ste. Marie to return home and work in the community; over the past twelve months 70 medical learners have spent time in the Sault being trained by our local physicians, nine of which are originally from the community.
"The Superior Family Health Team opened on April 1, 2011 with three physicians and since then we have added two new doctors and rostered 3,900 orphan patients, bringing our total roster size to 5,300 patients,” said Dr. Alan McLean, lead physician, Superior Family Health Team. “Our focus is providing excellent and accessible primary health care to our patients and an ideal learning environment for medical and nursing learners to learn their profession and our collaboration with NOSM and Sault College gives us much optimism for growth in the future.”
The Superior Family Health Team anticipates accepting 2,000 more local patients over the next year and they continue to accept patients through Health Care Connect.
"Group Health Centre is working closely with our local healthcare partners to provide high quality healthcare services,” said Grant B. Walsh, Group Health Centre's CEO. “We've provided care in Sault Ste. Marie for 49 years and we're strengthening ourselves for at least the next 100."
The province recently provided the Group Health Centre with a new $38 million five year agreement that secures funding for local programs and services, such as the cardiac care rehabilitation program, and creates a new governance structure for the operations of a new corporation.
The Group Health Centre will be governed by a board made up of equal representation from the Group Health Association and the Algoma District Medical Group.
“Registering patients in waves has allowed us to provide timely access to primary care for our patients while ensuring health education, health promotion and chronic disease management services are available through our interdisciplinary team of providers,” said Rita Mannarino, nurse practitioner lead, Algoma NPLC. “Our patients are able to access our full team of health care professionals and benefit from a collaborative approach to their individual care.”
“Over the past four months the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic has been working diligently to process patient applications and provide more access to primary care for the community,” said Sandra Lamon, administrative lead, Algoma NPLC.
The Algoma NPLC has registered nearly 1000 patients since opening in October 2011 and will continue to increase their roster of patients throughout the next year.
Please visit the clinic’s website for updates on future patient registration dates.
“The Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee has experienced great success in bringing Physicians to our Community,” said Debbie Amaroso, board member of the Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee. “Many areas previously under serviced now are operating at a comfortable complement. We continue to need to focus our efforts in some specialty areas but are optimistic due to the gains we have made over the last several years.”
The Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee has recruited 71 physicians since the inception of the program in 2002, 48 of which were recruited in the last five years and include 31 specialist doctors and 17 family physicians.