Huntsville Forester article published on Mar. 16, 2016. Article in full pasted below.
Alison Brownlee, Huntsville Forester
A smile spread across Lynn Sharer’s face.
“Happy Birthday, everyone,” said the executive director of the Algonquin Family Health Team to a room of more than 20 health-care professionals at the organization’s Huntsville offices off Frank Miller Drive on March 2. “We have been in this town, working so hard with patients, for 10 years.”
The anniversary celebration included cake, reminiscences by staff, and a slideshow presentation of the non-profit primary care and preventative health team’s accomplishments since opening its doors in 2006.
“It’s great to know that we’ve got longevity,” said Sharer.
The organization works in concert with area physician offices toward patient wellness by providing related programs and services, many of which are offered from its wellness hub at the Canada Summit Centre, which it now plans to expand.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care chose Huntsville as one of the first 52 sites to establish a family health team in the province in 2005. Family physicians soon expressed an interest in moving forward with the initiative and the first staff members were hired once ministry funding was secured in 2006.
“We’ve come a long way,” smiled Sharer. “We started out in a closet (at Huntsville hospital) and today we have three separate locations. Not bad.”
Palliative and geriatric care programs were the first established. But the team’s programs have since grown to cover Nordic pole walking, smoking cessation, COPD and asthma, heart health, healthy active aging, nutrition, diabetes prevention, mental health, primary care nursing and nurse practitioners, as well as information and education sessions.
Sharer noted the team also plays a significant role in various other health-care related initiatives in the area, including Hospice Huntsville’s palliative care residence and the region’s newly established health hubs.
“We have helped over the years a large number of people in our town, who are very thankful for the care they get everyday from our team and, of course, from our physicians, too,” she said. “I’m very proud of the work we have done.”
Dr. Melanie Mar, lead physician for the team, said in a submitted statement that the family health team was tasked with developing interdisciplinary primary care services to meet the needs of residents when first established.
“I am very honoured to be a part of a team that puts 100 per cent and more into providing our patients with excellent, comprehensive and compassionate care in our offices and in the community,” said Mar.
Gayle Mackay, former executive director, added she has a soft spot in her heart for the work team staff has done.
“I am delighted that the ministry is now seeing that primary care is the place to be,” said Mackay. “I think you are going to have a wonderful future ahead.”