Breaking: Outpatient clinic will connect over 11,000 GHC Patients

Group Health Centre

The Ontario government is investing over $2.8 million to ensure continued access to primary care services for families in Sault Ste. Marie, bringing the province one step closer to connecting everyone in our community to the care they need. 

“I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, my Queen’s Park colleagues and all the staff at the Ministry of Health along with the support of our local Health Care Professionals who have made today’s announcement possible,” said Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. “Working together, we have been able to secure over $4 million in new funding to ensure people in our community lacking access to primary care services, now have increased access to these services. This is not one single measure, but the combination of several initiatives. This is the product of months of dedication, diligence, and strong teamwork. Thank you to everyone who helped make all of this possible.”

This funding will support a new Group Health Centre (GHC) outpatient clinic, called the Access Care Clinic (ACC), located at 170 East Street in Sault Ste. Marie. The ACC will ensure continued access for up to 11,200 GHC patients who have lost access to their PCP on or after May 31, 2024. Led by Nurse Practitioners, this innovative clinic will provide primary care services such as urgent care, episodic care, chronic disease symptom management, and prescription maintenance. It will also facilitate ongoing referrals and ensure uninterrupted access to GHC’s programs and services. Patients will benefit from the continued utilization of the GHC Electronic Medical Records, which houses their medical history.

The ACC clinic will ensure these patients receive care in the appropriate setting, preserving emergency department services while at the same time minimizing wait times for the care they need.

“Our government continues to take action to ensure everyone that wants access to a primary care provider has one,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We recognize there is more work to be done, and that is why we are using all the tools we have, and working closely with MPP Romano, to expand access to primary care in Sault Ste. Marie, now and for years to come.”

“We acknowledge that the past several months have been difficult, and the prospect of not having a primary care provider has created a lot of uncertainty.” says Lil Silvano, President & CEO of GHC. “We are grateful for the ongoing support of MPP Romano and the Ministry of Health as this investment addresses the immediate need of our recently impacted patients. The new clinic will bridge the immediate needs of these impacted patients; however, this is just the first step in our long-term strategy to recruit and retain enough primary care providers for our community.”

“Everyone in our community deserves access to a primary care provider,” says Dr. Jodie Stewart, President & CEO of Algoma District Medical Group. “Continued focus and attention is needed to ensure our community’s healthcare needs are met, now and into the future.”   

An integral step in ensuring primary care for all members of the community who want and need access to care was to work with the Ministry of Health to create additional health clinics. We are excited to announce the recent approval of the Great Lakes Clinic, set to open at 710 Second Line East on June 4th, 2024. Sault Ste Marie Doctors Kiran Waqas and Manjeet Singh will welcome their 3,000 patients from the Group Health Centre to the new clinic as well as welcoming all members of the community seeking health care to their innovative clinic, that will be open after-hours and on weekends. Services that will be provided include general family medicine practice and a walk-in clinic, as well as preventative and urgent care, chronic disease management, immunizations and vaccinations, health screenings and physical exams.

“Our goal is to treat everybody, we love this town and love our patients. This is a big step for the community. It’s healthcare for all,” said Dr. Waqas, Physician, Great Lakes Clinic. “This is a true walk-in, urgent care clinic that we expect will minimize pressures on our ER. Our community does not currently have family medicine and walk-in clinic services under one roof, that is open on weekends and after regular business hours. We believe this will be a great incentive to recruit more physicians, because our clinic is unique and offers so many other special services. We are working hard to recruit more physicians into the Great Lakes Clinic to start a family practice here. In the next one to two years, we hope to be in a position to roster many more patients in our family practice.” 

“We are delighted that we were able to continue to service our existing patients while being able to offer more services to so many others in need in our community,” said Dr. Singh, Physician, Great Lakes Clinic. “We are so grateful to the Ministry of Health and our local MPP for their help in making this a reality.”

“Today’s announcement represents the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Health, stepping up to support our community at the time of its most critical need. This is a significant step on the path to addressing our healthcare challenges,” said Matthew Shoemaker, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie. “Continued access to primary care is a cornerstone of our community’s well being. I will continue to work with MPP Romano in advocating for our needs and look forward to future collaboration.”

Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the government has been making steady progress to ensure people have access to the care they need, when they need it. This includes expanding access to interdisciplinary primary care teams, adding hundreds of new medical school seats and nurse practitioner seats, and registering record numbers of new physicians.

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