December 8, 2023

There could soon be a new medical centre in Peterborough to serve 6,000 marginalized people who don’t have a family doctor in Peterborough city and county, pending approval of a provincial government funding application.

It would take $7.6 million annually from the provincial government to operate the centre, according to a new city staff report to councillors — and an application for it is being submitted by a group of local health care experts.

The Peterborough Ontario Health Team (POHT) was formed in 2019 after the provincial government announced these teams as its new approach to community health care.

In Peterborough the team is lead by a steering committee of local family doctors plus 11 organizations including the Canadian Mental Health Association and Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

They are applying for funding to set up a community health centre, which the city staff report defines as a non-profit “committed to health equity and social justice.”

These centres offer an array of health-care services, the report states, with often including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and also social workers, nutritionists, chiropodists and dieticians.

Although the report doesn’t mention where such a centre might be located, it states that the POHT is applying for $7.6 million in annual provincial funding to run it.

At a virtual committee meeting on Monday night, city councillors will be asked to offer the team a letter of support for their application.

At the same meeting, councillors will hear a presentation from POHT members Cathy Berges (a patient) Mark Graham (CEO of the local CMHA branch), Dr. Jackie Vanek (physician) and Dr. Vanita Lokanathan (physician).

The initiative wouldn’t detract from the city’s ongoing recruitment of family physicians for all those who lack a family doctor, the report adds; to the contrary, it would be expected to attract health care professionals “who are interested in different types of work.”

At least 11,000 people in Peterborough city and county are currently lacking a family doctor.

Maria Gomez, a committee member with the education department of the Canadian Association of Staff Physician Recruiters and director for the West Northumberland Physician Recruitment, was hired by the Peterborough Family Health Team as a consultant on local recruiting efforts.

At a meeting Feb. 28, councillors heard that Gomez will continue in her role until a new physician recruiter can be hired (potentially by the end of this month).

Gomez said at that meting that Peterborough may need to hire 30 new family doctors this year: eight for people who currently don’t have a doctor, plus about 20 more to replace physicians who’d like to retire in 2022.


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