THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – “This report confirms what we see every day at NorWest CHCs,” says CEO, Wendy Talbot. “Our CHC is highly effective and efficient keeping people healthy. We could have an even greater impact if the provincial government and our LHIN made it possible for us to connect services and programs with more people living in the District of Thunder Bay.”
A recommendation from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing for the federal and provincial governments to invest in the creation of a comprehensive network of Community Health Centres across Canada, is giving added impetus to NorWest Community Health Centres’ efforts to increase the number of people it serves. At our centre, an advanced access model of care has been introduced, to which has reduced wait times, increased timely access to health care services and promoted continuity of care for clients. In addition, a group intake process has been implemented to accept new clients in a timely manner and while also increasing knowledge and awareness of services offered within a community health centre model.
In its second annual report released earlier this week, the CIW said the long‐term health of Canadians would benefit, and health disparities would be reduced, if the CHC model was maximized across the country. Specific benefits would include: “a better start for children, a decrease in youth violence, fewer avoidable hospital visits, better prevention and management of mental illness and complex chronic disease, and improved chances for seniors to age at home.”
Currently Ontario’s Community Health Centres serve just four per cent of the province’s population; in some parts of the province there is no access at all. In Thunder Bay and District NorWest CHC’s provides services to 13,138 people. Despite accepting a significant number of new clients NorWest Community Health Centres continues to experience a demand for services that far outweighs our ability to provide these services. At the present time, approximately 600 individuals are still waiting for services from the Thunder Bay site. As an organization we will continue to expand our advanced access model of care, continue to explore
opportunities to explore and implement efficiencies as an organization.
CHCs stand out from other primary care models in the province because, along with the province’s ten Aboriginal Health Access Centres, they combine primary care with a wide range of counseling, health promotion and community development services. In addition to physicians and nurses, CHCs’ inter-professional teams include dietitians, therapists, social workers, health promoters, chiropodists and many other types of health providers.
The CIW described this comprehensive approach as “the most effective, efficient, and arguably the most affordable means of delivering primary health care.”