News Release From MPP John Yakabuski, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke: Ontario Connecting More People to Primary Care Team in Renfrew and Area

April 30, 2024

There is great healthcare news for Renfrew and area residents – funding to establish a new Family Health Team (FHT) has been approved.

This is part of Ontario’s $110 million investment to connect up to 328,000 people to primary care teams, bringing the province one step closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care.

An Expression of Interest (EOI) was drafted by the 17 family doctors of the Ancient Rivers Family Health Organization (FHO) who have offices in Renfrew and Calabogie; a group of family physicians who work collaboratively to give their patients best access to personalized care and quality services, with a focus on illness prevention (Renfrew Medical Associates, 2021).

As outlined in the application submitted to the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health in June 2023, the goal of the FHT is to provide direct care to vulnerable and marginalized people and those without a family doctor.

Renfrew and Calabogie and surrounding areas are the only areas in Renfrew County that do not have an interprofessional care team that serves their region, so this announcement is a step towards filling the gap and improving equity.

“This is tremendous news for residents of Renfrew and the surrounding area, particularly to those who currently do not have a primary care physician. Giving more patients access to a family doctor, will go a long way in easing strain and overcrowding in our emergency departments, and to those who staff them. I am most grateful to all those involved with the Ancient Rivers Family Health Team, and for their leadership in this initiative. I am also grateful to our government for providing the necessary funding,” said MPP John Yakabuski.

The new Family Health Team will serve residents of the town of Renfrew and the surrounding catchment area, attach many orphan patients and aim to provide care services to approximately 6,600 Renfrew and area patients.

Dr. Candice Cybulskie, Lead Applicant for the FHT, stated: “This funding will substantially improve patient access to allied health professionals, which will help the family doctors in Renfrew, Calabogie and area deliver better care. Family doctors are the foundation of our health care system and investing in them is essential. We are excited to be bringing more resources to our community for both attached and unattached patients.

In addition to attaching more residents to primary care, the establishment of an FHT will help to prevent ER overcrowding due to emergency room visits for non-emergency issues and, as the desired model of physicians, may also help to attract much-needed doctors to our area to build their practices.

The new FHT also proposes to recruit other healthcare professionals over time, in addition to the 17 doctors who belong to the Ancient Rivers FHO, to create an interprofessional primary care team. The team approach will help make care more convenient for people, and wrap supports which are currently not available to our local residents.

Those healthcare professionals could include a nurse practitioner, nurse, and counsellors who can provide short- and long-term mental health support, as well as dietitians and physiotherapists.

The FHT would address conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, smoking cessation, diabetes, obesity, falls prevention and mobility, nutritional counselling and care coordination.

Rather than creating a new governance structure, the FHT will leverage the structure and experience of the existing Board of Directors of Renfrew Victoria Hospital, and the main site of the FHT will be located on the RVH campus.

The EOI was endorsed by many partners and individuals who make up a network of support across our region, as well as local municipalities.

“I would like to express our gratitude to the Ministry of Health, Ontario Health and all those who supported our proposal. This project will build upon our strong relationship with our local physicians to address a critical need in our area, providing access to primary care so more patients receive the right care at the right time in the right place,” stated Julia Boudreau, RVH President & CEO.