Group Health Addresses Patient Questions & Concerns

Group Health Centre

On January 25, Group Health Centre (GHC) announced that 10,000 patients would lose access to Primary Care services on May 31, 2024.  GHC has received numerous calls and emails from patients asking for more information and clarification about what this news means to them. Please find below answers to some of the most common questions patients have been asking:

Can I Be Put On A Waiting List For A Primary Care Provider At GHC?

We recognize the vital role a dedicated Primary Care Provider (PCP) plays in your health and well-being and understand the concerns that come with being derostered. To assist you in finding a new PCP, we recommend utilizing the Health Care Connect Ontario service. This program is specifically designed to help Ontario residents without a PCP to find one in their area.

Registering with Health Care Connect Ontario puts you on a waiting list for all healthcare providers in the community, including Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, and the Group Health Centre. This centralized approach means that as soon as space becomes available—whether at GHC or any other local healthcare facility—you have the opportunity to be matched with a new PCP.

Please be aware that GHC does not maintain a separate waiting list for patients who have been derostered.

What Was The Criteria Used For Derostering Patients? Why Am I Being Derostered?

Primary Care Providers at GHC deliver care to a specific set of patients, often referred to as a “roster.” Rosters are assigned to a provider who is responsible for the care these patients receive. All of the 10,000 patients who have been impacted belong to a roster assigned to a Primary Care Provider who will no longer be practicing at GHC.  There were no other criteria used in determining which patients were affected.

I No Longer Have A Primary Care Provider. Can I Still Access Services Like Diagnostic Imaging, Physiotherapy, and other Specialty Care/Services? 

Diagnostic Imaging, Physiotherapy, and other Specialty Care Services at GHC will continue to be available even after your provider retires or leaves their practice. If you have a specialist appointment scheduled, it will still be valid, and you do not need to get a new referral. A full list of services available to members of the public can be found on our website under Programs & Services.

For clarity, you can continue to access primary care and specialty care services as usual until May 31, 2024, through your current GHC provider or the Same-Day Clinic. However, after May 31, 2024, if you need access to or an appointment with a new specialty service that requires a physician’s referral, you will need to visit a walk-in clinic for a referral. 

To access the complete list of walk-in clinics available in Sault Ste. Marie, please click here.

Why Can’t I Continue Using The Same-Day Clinic At GHC?

Unfortunately, the Same-Day Clinic is not equipped to care for the 10,000 patients who will no longer have access to primary care services at GHC.  The Clinic is staffed by Primary Care Providers of the GHC. With the reduction of providers, there is less capacity for the clinic to see patients.  If the 10,000 patients relied solely on the Same-Day Clinic for primary care, it would put a significant strain on the clinic’s resources. GHC would need to hire additional full-time providers to care exclusively for derostered patients, as well as manage the urgent care needs of GHC’s remaining patient base of 50,000.

This underscores the underlying issue that led to the deroster outcome. Without additional providers, GHC cannot provide care for the 10,000 patients in the Same-Day Clinic. This outcome is a direct result of these significant constraints and our commitment to providing quality care.

I’ve Lost My Primary Care Provider; What GHC Services Can I Still Use?

GHC offers a broad spectrum of healthcare services and programs open to the public. This includes but is not limited to, specialized care across various disciplines, comprehensive diagnostic services, and a range of health programs aimed at enhancing your overall well-being.

To explore the full list of available services and programs, please visit the ‘Programs & Services’ section of our website. There, you’ll find comprehensive details about each service, including descriptions, access procedures, and any specific requirements needed to utilize these services.

It is important to note that access to some specialized services may necessitate a referral from a physician. If you do not have a Primary Care Provider to provide a referral, a walk-in clinic can serve as a temporary solution for obtaining the necessary referral to access certain GHC services.

For those in need of a referral, a complete list of walk-in clinics in Sault Ste. Marie can be accessed here.

I’ve Lost My Primary Care Provider, Do I Need To Get My Medical Records Printed Before May 31?  

There is no requirement to print your medical record before May 31, 2024. You can access your GHC medical records for 10 years after your last entry.

Will My MyChart Account Be Deactivated If I No Longer Have A Primary Care Provider?  

If you have a MyChart account at present, it will be active until May 31, 2024. After this date, your account will become “read-only,” and you will not be able to schedule appointments or communicate with your previous Primary Care Provider. 

I Have Been Going To The Injection Clinic For Immunizations, Where Will I Receive Them After May 31?

We recognize the importance of continuing your routine immunizations and understand the concerns about accessing these services after May 31, 2024. For patients who will no longer be rostered with GHC, there are several alternative options available within the community for obtaining immunizations:

  • Algoma Public Health: Local public health units provide a range of immunization services. They offer vaccines for both children and adults, including routine immunizations and those required for travel.
  • Pharmacies: Many pharmacies now offer immunization services.
  • Community Walk-in Clinics: Some walk-in clinics in the community also provide immunization services.

We encourage you to explore these options to continue your immunizations seamlessly. For more detailed information on the specific services each of these options offers, including locations and how to access services, please visit their respective websites or contact them directly.

Can I Still Use GHC’s Women’s Health Program?

We understand the importance of continued access to specialized health services, such as those provided by the Women’s Health Program at GHC. However, after May 31, 2024, patients who have been derostered will need to consider alternative options for these services.

  • Algoma Public Health: Local public health units offer cervical screening clinics as part of their commitment to preventive health.
  • Algoma Ontario Health Team Initiatives: Through the efforts of the Algoma Ontario Health Team, various Cervical Cancer Screening Clinics are organized for unattached patients at different locations across the community. These clinics are designed to ensure that all women have access to necessary screenings, regardless of their attachment to a Primary Care Provider. Dates and times for these clinics are communicated to the public through various channels.

For more information on accessing these services, including locations and scheduling, please visit the Algoma Public Health website or look out for announcements from the Algoma Ontario Health Team.

I Have Heard That GHC Terminated Physicians Who Were Interested In Staying On. Is This True?

We understand that there may be rumours or concerns regarding the status of our physicians at GHC. It’s important to clarify that no doctor has been terminated from our team. GHC values the dedication and commitment of our medical staff, including both our permanent and locum physicians. We continue to engage all available physicians to provide comprehensive patient care. Our focus remains on ensuring that our community has access to quality healthcare services, and our physicians are a crucial part of our efforts to deliver on this commitment.

For more detailed information and a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit GHC’s Community Update Page.

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