MILESTONES - TAKE A WALK THROUGH TIME, MEET THE OLD AND NEW.

The North Perth Family Health Team began operating in 2007, but the concept of providing primary care within a group practice has been the driver of health care in North Perth for many years.

Dr. Earl Connors and his three colleagues formed a physician group practice, long before it was a common way of practicing medicine. This early group of four physicians which grew to eight physicians shared a vision of working together to support their patients. The group provided clinic visits, 24/7 emergency room visits, and support for their patients while in hospital. The Listowel Clinic, built in 1970 was the home for this visionary group of physicians.

The Medical Centre was another group practice within Listowel but this group amalgamated with the Listowel Clinic in 1989 growing the group practice from eight to eleven physicians. This group of physicians, with a few exceptions due to retirements, has been providing comprehensive primary care and hospital services to the community of North Perth for the last 25 years.

In 2007, the North Perth Family Health Team (NPFHT) began operations, further strengthening the primary care services for our community. Initially housed in the outpatient building across from the hospital, the Family Health Team worked with the physicians and nurses to provide a range of services and programs to expand primary care offerings. The addition of trained health clinicians – dietitians, Nurse Practitioners (NP), Registered Nurses (RN), Registered Practical Nurses (RPN), mental health counsellors and pharmacist, has allowed the group to provide a broader range of health services under one roof rather than sending a patient out to seek these services.

To support the growth of the personnel and services, the new Fisher Family Primary Care Centre was built through generous community contributions and government grants. The new health centre opened in February of 2012 and is a modern, state of the art clinic and has been designed to optimize the patient’s experience and support clinical staff in providing the best care possible. The NPFHT has been recognized provincially for providing strong leadership in primary care service delivery. The group has had a long established relationship with the Listowel Memorial Hospital and this partnership provides the cornerstone of a robust local health system, which the citizens of North Perth can be very proud.

The innovation that has been embedded within the culture of this group practice is evident in the use of the electronic medical record (EMR), which allows all of the physicians and clinicians to share patient information. This electronic communication benefits the patient’s care by ensuring the most up to date and relevant information is available.

A number of services offered at the NPFHT support the provision of comprehensive quality health care by those clinicians who have a deep level of expertise and knowledge to complement the care provided by the physicians. For example, a patient who presents with a diagnosis of diabetes can be referred to the dietitian who can provide a high degree of nutritional expertise. Patients who have been diagnosed with depression can now be provided with mental health counselling series at the health centre. Some of the other programs include:

Well Women’s Program to ensure that women are up to date for their health screening;

Mental health services for adults, families, and children and adolescents, including support or youth with addition issues;

Geriatric nursing services provided by a NP who also support the Complex Continuing Care program at Listowel Memorial Hospital;

Oncology Nurse Navigator who works with patients from the time they are diagnosed with cancer throughout their cancer journey;

Well Baby Program to monitor the health and development of this new generation;

Telephone Triage services – the clinic’s own tele-health service to ensure patients are provided with the right care and to prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

The total number of staff working together at the Family Health team is 43. This includes physicians and their nurses, allied health professionals, administrative staff, clerical staff and receptionists. In coming together, this group has demonstrated dedication to the provision of comprehensive primary care and a strong commitment to the community of North Perth. This group provides services to approximately 17,500 patients. As our health system evolves, the government is focusing its efforts on strengthening primary and community health care.

Working in a group practice is great for the clinicians as there is always someone to ask for help. By working and living in the community, the staff is vested in their community and recognizes how easy it is to connect with other health professionals outside of the clinic. This ability is a true benefit for patient-centered care.

This is a story of a commitment originally by a group of physicians who wanted to provide the utmost in primary care to their patients. The addition of the Family Health Team reinforces this commitment to the community to make sure primary care services are the best. This rich culture of community commitment remains self-evident today and is a key driver for continually striving to improve the quality of primary care services.

Many people are unaware of the extensive range of free services that the NPFHT offers. A complete list is available on the website – www.npfht.ca – or stop by the clinic.

The community is blessed to have such a successful Family Health Team available for their health care needs.  ``We`re here for you`` is their message, and as a co-operative group, someone always will be there.

Visit our website for more information: www.npfht.ca

Listowel  Banner July 2014 - Marlene Ottens