St. Lawrence News article published on October 28, 2015. Article in full pasted below.
Jan Murray, St. Lawrence News
A small crowd gathered on at the Upper Canada Family Health Team Office at 25 Mill St. in Gananoque on Wednesday, Oct. 21 to celebrate the official opening of the facility.
“Thanks to Sherri Hudson, executive director, Bev Markell, program administrator and Andrew Everett, the lead physician,” began Dr. Debbie Briggs.
“Locally, I’d like to thank Dr. Brian Hart and the team around him, as well as the local community support,” Briggs continued. “Also, I would like to extend a special thank you to the UCFHT team, who were very patient and forced to develop resourcefulness in finding areas to work while the construction was being completed. This team includes Lisa Lunn, geriatric social worker; Sharon Hinbeck, mental health social worker; Theresa Couteau, dietician; Melissa Spence, RN; Lindsay Hyde, occupational therapist; Emily Maskell, admin support/IT; and Deanna Powers, who is the background administrative support.
The group of physicians from Seeleys Bay, Lansdowne and Gananoque has attempted over many years to try and establish this type of provision of health care.
“Fortunately, about two years ago, the UCFHT reached out to us and invited us to join the team,” explained Briggs. “They have been extremely welcoming, helpful, convivial, and a pleasure to work with through this transition. Our goal now is to provide comprehensive and accessible health care to our community as much as possible in our communities. With this team and this new facility, we are closer to this goal. To get further information about the UCFHT you can go to their website or FB page, just google them or if you prefer the good old fashioned face to face conversation that is still a possibility.”
The family health team concept is essentially where you have a group of physicians who work with allied health care professionals.
“We’ve been trying for quite some time to build a family health team, but it is difficult to do due to limited resources,” explained Dr. Hart. “When the Upper Canada Health Team approached us, that was an opportunity that we pursued.”
In essence, the doctors are doing what they’ve always done but now have the addition of extra resources such as the dietician, social worker and the nurse.
“Therefore, collectively the team can provide not only the normal care that we do but we can focus on preventative care,” Hart said. “We can run things like memory clinics, smoking cessation clinics, we can do prevention clinics in terms of cardiovascular disease, and healthy living and we can do more home visits. We can even do home assessments. Really what it does is allow us access to a much larger funding for allied health professionals so that we can bring better care to the community.”
Clinics are already up and running. Information regarding when the clinics are running can be found on the website. “We have been running for about a year and a half, but this space has only been open for about 6 months, so everybody was kind of crowded into our existing space,” explained Hart. “We were double-using rooms, climbing over each other; it was a growing experience, a learning experience. Now that this space is open, everything is working well.”
Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk added, “Having the clinic here, supporting them and keeping the doctors here in Gananoque is very, very important. Certainly, any kind of help with expansion to help with preventative medicine is always good for the town and for the people that live here. If we can keep people out of the hospital and nursing homes, that’s very important. So expanding any of the space here to make sure that we utilize as much of it for health care is very important to the Town of Gananoque.”