While there are more than 100 community health centres spread across the province, Peterborough County is the largest centre in south central Ontario without one.
Now a group of health-care professionals are trying to establish one here, and they say it could make a difference in attracting new doctors to the area.
Jonathan Bennett, who chairs the group looking to bring a community health centre (CHC) to Peterborough, is expected to make the case for one in front of Peterborough County council on Wednesday (March 1).
A draft letter from the county already strongly endorses the idea.
Ontario’s community health centre concept was created by the former Bill Davis government more than 40 years ago.
Established and governed by a community-elected board of directors, they are non-profit organizations that provide primary health and health promotion programs for individuals, families and communities, working with individuals, families and communities to strengthen their capacity to take more responsibility for their health and well-being.
The province says they work together with others on health promotion initiatives within schools, in housing developments and in the workplace. They link families with support and self-help groups that offer peer education, support in coping or are working to address conditions that affect health.
And, according to Bennett’s presentation to county council, a CHC in Peterborough would attract new physicians to the community, specifically those who prefer to work at a CHC.
Peterborough-Kawartha member of provincial parliament Dave Smith met with community leaders earlier this month to reveal the board of directors leading the campaign to open the proposed centre.
The presentation report going before the county states that Peterborough is seeking an $8.2-million annual investment to fund a CHC, providing primary health care to 6,000 marginalized individuals.
“Peterborough is in desperate need of family physicians,” the report states. Peterborough has the fourth highest level of marginalization among 42 Ontario Health Teams, yet it is without a primary health-care model designed and resourced to serve its highly marginalized population.
“Due to this, Peterborough has very poor outcomes on health measures, including high costs. Other systems in Peterborough, such as the hospital, are bearing the burden.”
The draft letter, still needing approval from county council, suggests it fully endorses and wishes to reaffirm its “unwavering support” for the proposal as it proceeds to the next states in approval and funding processes.
The Peterborough Ontario Health Team ranks third worst in the province for premature mortality, fourth worst for physician visits after hospitalization and 12th worst for average monthly cost (according to 2019/20 stats).
“The facility will attract urgently needed physicians to our region,” the letter states.
“Peterborough County has been working with local partners on the issue of physician recruitment for several years with some success. This area has been designated as an area in high need of family physicians. Community health centres attract physicians who are interested in a team-based and salaried model. Investing in a CHC in Peterborough would attract physicians while serving our highly marginalized population.”
The county council meeting can be viewed live March 1 on the county’s YouTube site.