It was February of 2007.  North Perth Family Health Team began operations.  Our mission was and still remains to improve the health and well-being of the citizens of North Perth by working as a highly effective team to deliver integrated, person-centered health services, information and care.  In plain English, the North Perth Family Health Team along with our physicians and their staff provide comprehensive health services to our community – all under one roof.

Before the family health team model, physicians delivered health care alongside a dedicated group of nurses and administration personnel.  If there was a requirement for such services as nutrition counseling or mental health counseling, referrals were required to outside agencies.  The family health team model brought together allied health professions to support physicians’ practices and support easier access to these services in a very timely manner.  Within the clinic patients now have access to dietitian, mental health counselors, nurse practitioners, pharmacist, and specialized nurses (oncology and lactation).

At our outset, we understood this new model of care meant working closely with the physicians and their staff to provide comprehensive quality care to our community.  The past ten years has been devoted to ‘how’ to be a family health team by working with the physicians and their team to develop programs and services that expand and enhance the delivery of health services. The physicians can rely on the family health team programs for routine monitoring, education, and management of chronic disease (e.g. diabetes).   The family health team model has allowed the physicians to share the care responsibility for their patients and to offer a more comprehensive basket of services to benefit the health and well being of our community.

North Perth Family Health Team is a leader in achieving a strong rural health system.  Our success, first and foremost is a direct result of the commitment, tenacity, and compassion demonstrated by our physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals to bring our mission to life: “Helping you to health yourself!”  We have all worked to build a strong team approach from planning our health resources, integrating and cross-pollination of skills and expertise, to reintroducing and enhancing our focus on quality improvement.  Our values are underscored by a strong sense of service to our community and to our health system. 

Our leadership success is also driven by our Board of Directors.  While most family health teams in the province adopted a board model composed of mostly physicians, our leadership vision from day one was community driven.  We have had community members sitting as key leaders since our inception.  Our Board is comprised of three community members, and other key stakeholders including physicians, hospital, and municipal government.  The outside perspective provided by our board members continues to shape our organization and our services.  Some of the benefits include supporting our patients through such programs as well women, expanded prenatal services, and chronic lung disease.  Our governance model is now being copied throughout the province.

Like all success stories we need to acknowledge our community partners from many sectors.  We have a long standing partnership with Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance and North Huron Family Health Team – a partnership which ensures that our communities have a broader range of services that is truly first class.  The Municipality of North Perth and the Listowel Memorial Hospital Foundation are partners in support of our Health Professional Recruiter ensuring ongoing succession of new physicians to our community.  Across Huron and Perth we are active in many other partnerships crossing health and social service sectors.  The partnerships enable North Perth Family Health Team to remain connected to our community.  The connection ensures that we remain true to our mission and our values.

The people of North Perth should feel confident that their voice will continue to shape health services, making health care more responsive and, as always, leading edge.

We hope that you will join us in celebrating our 10th Anniversary on August 31st from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Please take some time to thank your healthcare providers for their commitment to you.

Acknowledge: this article is a compilation of thoughts voiced by our staff and Drs. Latuskie and Annis and submitted by Mary Atkinson, Executive Director.

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Photo credit: Guy Bertrand