Campaign kicks off to bring $8.2M Community Health Centre to Peterborough

A proposal has been submitted for a Community Health Centre in Peterborough to assist thousands who are without a family physician. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Thomas Kienzle

A campaign has been launched to bring a Community Health Centre (CHC) to Peterborough, Ont., to help serve the more than 6,000 area residents who do not have a family physician.

On Wednesday, a board of directors consisting of community leaders formally introduced itself and the project. They noted a proposal from the Peterborough Ontario Health Team to the province seeking $8.2 million annually for the health centre was submitted in August 2022.

The CHC proposal would employ 60 staff, offering on-site laboratory services, pharmacy and access to social work, peer navigation, physiotherapy, parenting supports and specialist support for mental health and addictions.

A location for the clinic has not been announced but Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said “a couple of spots” are being considered.

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Board chair Jonathan Bennett says the centre can integrate health care with other social services in the city and also work off site with partner agencies in the city and Peterborough County.

“The lack of a Community Health Centre here is a longstanding gap in basic access to primary health care across our community,” he stated.

“We intend to keep pushing for this funding.”

Bennett says the proposal has received support from more than 30 health care and social service leads in the region. The proposal seeks investment in extensive health care and related programs for 6,000 marginalized individuals.

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He noted there are currently 101 CHCs across Ontario.

“We are asking for something most communities already have,” he said. “As not for profit organizations led by a community board, CHCs focus on delivering care to specific populations.”

He noted a CHC is equipped and resourced to serve disadvantaged populations because they have a robust team of supports provided alongside doctors and nurse practitioners.

“Serving people in the right setting will save lives, save money, attract new salaried doctors to our city, and reduce the pressure on our hospital,” he said. “It’s an investment with so many upsides. We need it urgently.”

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Click to play video: 'Peterborough region in need of more family doctors'
Peterborough region in need of more family doctors

Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, vice-chair of the Peterborough CHC board, notes Peterborough has the fourth-highest level of marginalization among 42 Ontario Health Team regions.

“Yet we don’t have the health care model that is designed and resourced to serve more complex patients,” she said.

Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith says he fully supports a CHC for Peterborough which would also help attract salaried physicians, as a CHCH has fewer administrative burdens and flexibility to work part time or diversify their practice.

The CHC board says the area is designated as in “high need of family physicians.”

“More than 60 per cent of new medical graduates want a salaried position with flexibility to explore many challenges in health care,” said Smith.

“The CHC would provide that attractive option to entice new physicians to our area in a way we have not had in the past. It will integrate into our existing health care options to help reduce hallway health care, reduce demand on the emergency room and provide the right care where it is needed most.”

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For more information on the CHC in Peterborough, visit the website.

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