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Better Access To Better Care For Over One Million Ontarians

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Better Access To Better Care For Over One Million Ontarians

McGuinty Government Delivers New Family Health Teams

Office of the Premier

BRIGHTON -- More than one million Ontarians will have better access to better care because of 52 new Family Health Teams and three new networks of Family Health Teams, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today.

"Ontario families, including thousands who could not find a family doctor, will now have access to doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who will not only treat them when they're sick, but do more to keep them healthy in the first place," said Premier McGuinty.

"This is an important part of our plan to improve health care, and sustain medicare for years to come, and represents a major leap forward in carrying out the Romanow Commission's recommendations. But what's important to Ontarians is that they will have better access to better care for themselves and their loved ones."

Family Health Teams include doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care professionals working together to provide access to health care day and night, seven days a week, close to home. Physicians working in an interdisciplinary group practice see up to 52 per cent more patients than those working in a solo practice.

The government is announcing today that 52 teams are being set up and funded in communities across Ontario. In addition, Hamilton, Barrie and Peterborough are being given the green light to set up networks of family health teams that will work together to coordinate and improve primary care throughout their communities.

The exact number of family health teams in those communities will be determined by the communities working with the province to ensure the best primary care.

The first wave of Family Health Teams, including these networks, will provide care to more than one million patients in 47 communities across Ontario. Some of the teams will be up and running within the next few months while others will take more time to hire staff and complete facility renovations.

More communities will be creating Family Health Teams to meet the government's goal of 150 across Ontario by 2007/08.

In making the announcement, McGuinty returned to the Brighton Health Services Centre, where he pledged in 2003 to improve front-line care for Ontarians if elected Premier.

The new Brighton Family Health Team will include doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners working together with other health care providers, such as a pharmacist, social worker/mental health professional and dietician. The team will also have linkages to local hospitals, a hospice, the YMCA, an Ontario Early Years Centre and the local public health unit.

"Family Health Teams provide a continuum of care, so they can do more to promote health and prevent disease, as well as treat illness," said George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "That saves lives and precious health care dollars. We're changing the way health care is delivered in Ontario to better serve people and their communities."

As mayor of Brighton, Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi helped spearhead the local fundraising drive that led to the creation of their health care centre, which will now be home to its new Family Health Team.

"This is great news for my community and for other communities that have been working hard to cope with a shortage of doctors," Rinaldi said. "It means better access to better care -- and that's something we've been working hard to achieve. I'm grateful to the Premier for helping us reach that goal."

The creation of the 52 Family Health Teams and the three networks in Hamilton, Barrie, and Peterborough exceeds the target of 45 teams set last spring.

"We had such a tremendous response from health care professionals and communities about Family Health Teams that we're introducing more teams than originally planned," said Dr. Jim MacLean, Executive Lead for Primary Health Care with the Health Results Team. "This shows a real desire to build on primary care in Ontario, which will be good for patients, health care professionals and communities for many years to come."

"Many doctors have expressed interest in working in collaborative teams with other health care professionals," said Dr. John Rapin, President of the Ontario Medical Association. "We look forward to working with the government to improve the ability of Ontario's patients to access the health care services they need and deserve."

"Today's announcement is excellent news for the public and the nursing profession. We congratulate the government for announcing more Family Health Teams than expected, and we look forward to more," said Joan Lesmond, President of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. "We also welcome the inclusion of registered nurses and nurse practitioners in the new Family Health Teams. RNs and NPs will finally be able to contribute more fully to improving access to high-quality primary care."

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