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Feature Article - December 1, 2005

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Feature Article

December 1, 2005

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Sharbot Lake Family Health Team takes form

by Jeff Green

Six months after the announcement that the Sharbot Lake Medical Centre was slated to become one of the first wave of 50 Family Health Teams in the Province of Ontario, a local steering committee is almost ready to submit their proposal for a new service model in Sharbot Lake to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

The proposal includes provisions for the development of a range of health services within the confines of the medical centre, and includes increasing the staff complement by hiring an office nurse, a social worker, and a part time dietician.


The services offered by visiting health care professionals will also be increased. The Psychologist that visits the Medical Centre for a half a day a week will be increased to one and a half days, and an acute care nurse practitioner will be available, as well as a respiratory therapist, and a physio/occupational therapist. Diabetes and Chronic Care management services will be augmented as well.

Renovations to the Medical Centre will be necessary to house all of these people, and to develop a capacity for video conferencing. There are also plans for a large multi-purpose room, which can be used for Health Education Purposes; an improved entranceway; and wheel chair accessible facilities.

The steering committee has been working with an architect in designing and engineering the renovation. Dr. Peter Bell, who presented an update on the planning process to Central Frontenac Council this week, estimates that the renovations will cost in the neighbourhood of $700,000. Exactly how those renovations will be funded has not yet been determined.

“To some extent I have been receiving mixed messages from the Ministry,” said Dr. Bell, “but our main contact with the Ministry, Jim McAdam, has been pretty reassuring. We are looking at a variety of funding sources, and they will also want to see some community participation. But really, my sense from the Ministry of Health is that they want this Family Health Team up and running; and they want it up and running soon.”

Dr. Bell said that one of the advantages that the Sharbot Lake Medical Centre has had in the eyes of the Ministry of Health, is a strong working relationship with the township and with other local agencies. The steering committee that has been working on these plans since the Family Health Team designation was announced in April includes Dr. Bell and Nurse Practitioner Mary Woodman from the Medical Centre, Central Frontenac Councillor Frances Smith, and Susan Leslie and Scott Black from Northern Frontenac Community Services.

A governance model will also have to be developed for the Family Health Team.

“We are looking at a model where providers can become partners, and can relate to a Community Advisory Board with community members and ex-officio representation from bodies like the township council and others,” said Dr. Bell.

Councillor Janet Gutowski asked if there was any concern about finding practitioners to fill the roles that are envisioned for the new service.

“We’re going to make it a pretty attractive place to work,” Dr. Bell replied. As an example, he made reference to Dr. Burley, the Psychiatrist from Kingston who now comes to Sharbot Lake for a half day a week.

“He has been doing research and publishing papers on working in psychiatry with family doctors. He finds it very attractive to come out here,” Dr. Bell said. “We have had similar experiences with other agencies and providers.”

The steering committee will submit their proposal on December 15, and hopes are high that construction may begin in the spring.

In an indication of the Ministry of Health’s attitude towards this project, they will be sending a film crew to spend several days at the Medical Centre next week.

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