At the Tuesday, May 23rd session of Perth council, two separate groups attended as delegations seeking support for their applications to create Family Health Teams (FHTs) to serve Perth and the surrounding area. These would be provincially funded. Queen’s Park put a moratorium on new applications some time ago and on May 10th of this year they reopened the process and set June 16th as the deadline for new proposals. FHTs combine family physicians with other healthcare disciplines and administration to create a streamlined group practice that has been proven to increase service levels and reduce wait times across the country.
The Perth Family Health Organization, representing 16 practicing local physicians, and the Tay River Health Centre, covering 9 doctors, were looking for letters of support from council for their applications. Both spoke of the need to increase services for the elderly as well as the approximately 15,000 area residents without access to primary healthcare or a family physician. There would also be a focus on mental health and social services, among others, with co-located staff as well as connections to existing facilities. Carleton Place council recently announced a deal that will see that community have their own team, an expansion of the Ottawa Valley Health Team. Prior to the May 10th announcement, the province would still fund an existing team’s expansion but not a new one.
Presenters at the meeting spoke of reducing pressures on local hospitals with their approach as well as freeing up physician time with admin support leading to greater patient access. It will also provide ways for doctors to ensure that their patients are getting prescribed treatments such as physiotherapy and diet consultations as well as from other specialties. Both groups felt there was enough demand in the area to support both of their proposals to the Ontario government. Neither application required municipal funding.
Council approved both requests for letters of support unanimously.