Yahoo News published an article June 14, 2023
By Darlene Wroe
Two area doctors are hoping for funding approval for the Temagami Family Health Team to expand to take in the Latchford and Cobalt medical clinics as satellites.
The application to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, if approved, would expand access to resources for the two clinics.
Currently they are the only two between Temagami and Kirkland Lake that are not part of a Family Health Team.
Dr. Steven Sears, who has a clinic in Cobalt, and Dr. Mathew Scott, who has a clinic in Latchford, are preparing the application with assistance from Temagami Family Health Team executive director Ellen Ibey, in response to a ministry announcement in March that there is additional funding to enhance primary care.
In a telephone interview, Sears related that he and Scott were "initially thinking about putting a proposal in for a Family Health Team just for Cobalt, Coleman and Latchford, but the ministry preferred that we just join up with an existing Family Health Team."
The application is due at the end of the workday Friday, June 16, but Sears emphasized it will not be known if the application is successful until the fall.
"We did actually put in a proposal to the ministry (about 10 years ago) to be satellite clinics of Temagami to enhance access to primary care but we were denied at that point in time."
Ibey also commented by telephone that the Temagami Family Health Team would expand if the application is successful.
Sears emphasized that, if the proposal is successful, the clinic structures would remain the same. However, being part of the Temagami team would enhance the ability of the Latchford and Cobalt clinics to get access for their patients to professionals such as mental health support, psychotherapy, a nurse practitioner, a dietician, an occupational therapist, a respiratory therapist, physiotherapy, and pharmacy support.
Sears noted that at this time the Cobalt and Latchford clinics are the only family practices between Temagami and Kirkland Lake that don't have access to these professionals.
In preparing for the application, Sears and Scott have requested that residents of Cobalt, Coleman Township and Latchford, who do not have a family doctor, call their municipal office and leave their name.
The goal is to collect this data to add to the application to highlight "that there are still people in the area without family physicians," said Sears. Speaking for himself, he said he has patients who have "unacceptably long" waiting periods for appointments.
If the application is successful, and the medical clinics can join with Temagami, it "would allow us to look after more people and also provide better care to the people who are already with the clinic."
Sears said the ministry funding opportunity is "specifically trying to target vulnerable, marginalized and unattached patients."
"The whole goal is to improve access to, and improve the quality of, primary care," he said.
The proposal was also discussed at the Cobalt committee-of-the-whole meeting June 6.
Town manager Steven Dalley said at that time that if the proposal is accepted by the ministry it will bring in more resources.
"It does not deteriorate anything here at all. It will only give us more resources, so it will be a win-win situation."