Message from Executive Lead, Dr. Kim Morrison
Improving access to Primary Care
A new poll from Angus Reid found that half of Canadians face challenges accessing a primary care doctor. While that may shock some, I think many people in the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington regions would agree that it can be difficult to either find a family doctor or get a timely appointment with the one they already have. These latest findings emphasize that we are at a point of crisis in Primary Care and we need to work together to address this problem.
At least 20,000 people in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington regions have no primary care provider. With this lack of access to care, pressure on emergency departments and urgent care has increased. We have seen this at hospitals in the region where shortages of health-care workers and longer wait times have become the norm. The entire health-care system feels the pressure when people do not have a family doctor or other primary care provider.
Dr. Kim Morrison, FLA OHT Executive Lead
This was highlighted in September when FLA OHT partner Kingston Health Sciences Centre hosted journalist Adrienne Arsenault and a camera crew from CBC’s The National to help demonstrate the various pressures that hospitals across Canada are facing - view video. Without access to high quality primary care, peoples’ health challenges can escalate – cancer may go undetected, chronic diseases become more complicated and preventable illnesses become more common. This is leading more people to rely on hospitals and other health service providers that are designed to care for people once they become ill versus keeping people healthy as primary care is designed to do.
The FLA OHT has set a vision of connecting every person in our region who wants a primary care provider to a People-Centred Health Home to meet their health and wellness needs. To help make this a reality, I am thrilled to say that a new ‘Access to Primary Care’ working group has been formed within the FLA OHT. This group will bring together many partners from across health-care sectors, as well as community members to co-design solutions that improve access to primary care so that all the other parts of the health system can function more efficiently and do the things they are designed to do.
Working with many health-care partners, we are already seeing great results in improving access to primary care in our communities.
The Integrated Care Hub in Kingston, which opened in 2020, is working to improve access and services to people who use substances, wish to access addiction treatment services and/or are experiencing homelessness.
The Portable Outreach Care Hub (PORCH) launched this past summer, is a mobile van that provides mental and physical health support for individuals in the KFL&A community experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as those seeking wellness services or struggling with mental health and substance use.
FLA OHT partners have submitted a proposal for a new multidisciplinary Primary Care Health Home for people who are not attached to a primary care provider to address their urgent need for health and wellness care and to attract more family physicians, nurse practitioners and other health-care providers to our communities.
With these three projects leading the way, the new working group will advance our goal of providing better access to team-based care to all the people served by the FLA OHT.