Inside Belleville article published November 10, 2017. Article in full pasted below.
Sarah Hyatt, Brighton Independent
Brighton — Ontario’s 2017 investments in interprofessional care were in the spotlight last week, as Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi made a stop at the Brighton Health Services Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The province has committed more funds for local health care, hoping to enhance quality of care and access to services, those in attendance last Tuesday heard.
During his stop, Rinaldi highlighted an additional new base funding of $270,154 for the Brighton-Quinte West Family Health Team (BQWFHT). The team will also receive an extra $28,300 in one-time support to improve health care services.
“I’m very proud to have been at the forefront of family health teams in Ontario,” said Rinaldi. “This investment continues to support a ‘full-circle’ approach to health care and will increase access to services for the entire community.”
The BQWFHT currently provides care to almost 13,000 patients.
“As part of the 2017 budget, Ontario is helping more people across the province access teams of health care professionals, to ensure patients can receive comprehensive and personalized health care where they need it,” a statement on behalf of the province reads.
There are currently 294 interprofessional care teams within Ontario that provide care to more than four million patients. The province has committed a total of $248.4 million in the next three years to support those existing teams and so new care teams can be created.
“The Brighton-Quinte West Family Health Team remains a significant asset within this community and these additional funds will help with various staffing needs,” said Mayor Mark Walas, following Rinaldi’s visit to the Brighton Health Services Centre and happy to hear the province has committed additional funds for health care teams.
Support for existing teams may include recruitment of new staff or funds may also be used to retain current workers. Ontario wants every region to have at least one health team in coming years.
Of that $248.4 million, about $102 million is dedicated for expansion of care teams and about $145 million for the recruitment and retention of health care professionals.
About $15 million will be invested for 2017-18. These investments, in addition to Ontario’s announcement that prescription medications will be free for all kids and youth 24 years old and younger, are said to be part of a provincial plan to increase access to care and will improve patient experience, as well as reduce wait times. (More information on the Patients First Action Plan for Health Care and OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare Program is available via the web.)
For BQWFHT staffers, the investment is important for a number of reasons.
“The past few years have seen significant growth in our patient population, as well as the recruitment of new physicians to the area,” said Wendy Parker, executive director. “The annual funding acknowledges the provision of high-quality primary care to our patients and families, and responds to our need for increased programs and services in the Brighton, Colborne and Quinte West communities.”
The purpose of health care teams is to bring together a diverse group of professionals to help meet the individual and often-complex needs of patients. Teams include professionals from all fields of health care, including doctors, social workers, nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists and more.
Since its inception with the first wave of family health teams in Ontario, the BQWFHT has worked hard to bring high-quality health care to its patient base and the organization has seen continuous growth, said Dr. Richard Wiginton, the lead physician with the team.
“We have excellent governance and numerous clinical programs run by our dedicated and professional staff,” he said. “We are an increasingly utilized teaching site for undergraduate, medical resident and nurse practitioner training.”
And it’s the quality of the team which has helped with successful recruitment of new physicians to the area, Wiginton insists.
The doctor said the team is “very pleased to be recognized” by the province and “with our new and significantly increased funding. We are careful and responsible stewards of Ontario taxpayer dollars and we look forward to the stability and opportunities for growth that our new funding will provide.”
To support recruitment and retention, $79,600 in additional base funding has been dedicated for Trent Hills. The Northumberland team will receive a boost of $107,000 for recruitment and retention, $51,134 in additional base funding and $8,000 in one-time support to enhance quality and access to health care services.