London

Province announces $6.4M to integrate local health care teams

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced $6.4 million in funding on Thursday to help integrate primary care teams in London, Lambton and Chatham-Kent.

Money to help access primary care teams, especially in Indigenous communities

Christi-Ann Poulette, left, the integrated care manager of Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre and Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones at a funding announcement.
Christi-Ann Poulette, left, the integrated care manager of Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre and Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones at a funding announcement. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced $6.4 million in funding on Thursday to help connect people to services provided by so-called primary care teams in London, Lambton and Chatham-Kent. 

Jones made the announcement at Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre's (SOAHAC) location at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, located south of London, which will receive a portion of the funding. 

Jones said the money will help about 23,000 people establish service with a primary care team, that can include a mix of doctors, nurse practitioners and other care providers who work together under one roof. 

Jones said the money is a move to address the more than two million people in Ontario who don't have a primary care doctor, a particular problem in Indigenous communities. 

"Our investment will provide a mix of expanded care options to urban First Nations, Indigenous and Metis people in Chippewa while extending the reach to team-based care into Elgin County," said Jones. 

SOAHAC's Newbury location will receive $800,000 and its Chippewa location will receive $613,000. 

Sarah Davis is SOAHAC's director of finance and operations. She said the money SOAHAC will receive will help reach people in a handful of smaller communities where access to health care is more difficult. 

"We are able to expand our services to the number of individuals served in both our Chippewas of the Thames location and the Newbury site that operates out of the Four Counties hospital," Davis said. "It allows us to bring together care teams and provide more of the services that make sure that wait lists don't grow."  

Christi-Ann Poulette, SOAHAC's integrated care manager, said the announcement fits well into her organization's holistic approach to health care, an approach she said is rooted in traditional Indigenous healing.

"Today's announcement means that more people will be able to access care," she said. "And we know the need for primary care services in our community is great."

Thursday's announcement essentially provides more details about a $110 million spending plan first announced in February

A news release spells out some details of what the money will go toward funding, including: 

  • New mobile services for Indigenous people in Middlesex County. 
  • A new mobile bus service to connect people in rural and urban areas of Lambton-Kent Middlesex with Indigenous-led care services. 
  • A new family health team for London and surrounding area to expand services through community hub locations. 
  • New mobile primary care services in Chatham-Kent, including clinics for respiratory and diabetes management, cancer screening and traditional healers.