The Rideau St. Lawrence Family Health Team attended the Feb. 11 North Dundas council meeting to ask for approval to move in with the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre in Winchester. The council agreed to the request. Pictured here are Donna Derouchie of the Rideau St. Lawrence Family Health Team (left), Leanne Clouthier of the community health centre and Cathy Pearson of the Rideau St. Lawrence Family Health Team. Morin photo

WINCHESTER ­– Winchester and area residents can expect more health care services with the introduction of the Rideau St. Lawrence Family Health Team to the community.

Members of the health team received permission from the North Dundas council at the Feb. 1 council meeting to move in with the Seaway Valley Community Health Centre at 547 St. Lawrence St. in Winchester; this is the same building that is home to the library and the OPP.

The addition of the family health team to the North Dundas community is designed to complement existing health services such as the Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

On hearing the request, Mayor Tony Fraser said, “This is an opportunity for a partnership.”

Donna Derouchie, the executive director of the health team, made the group’s presentation to council.

She stressed that this was just the first step in establishing the family health team in the area.

Moving into the space will not require significant physical changes to the building.

“We are not asking for any money,” said Derouchie.

“We should be able to make some changes to make the space more hospitable for our patients,” she said.

There will only be two people working from the office space, and there will be room for patients to visit and meet with health care professionals.

Derouchie explained some of the history of the health team and how it would function alongside existing health services in the community. “Our goal is to complement existing services, not duplicate them. Family health teams were created to expand access to comprehensive family health care services across Ontario,” she said.

There are currently three million Ontarians enrolled with family health teams in more than 200 communities in the province.

Derouchie said, “Family health teams are primary health care organizations that include a team of family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, pharmacists and other professionals who work together to provide primary health care for their community. They ensure that people receive the care they need in their communities, as each team is set-up based on local health and community needs.”

Members of the team will work with other members of medical clinics in the area such as the North Dundas Medical Clinic.

“Our patients will come from all of the area clinics,” said Derouchie.

The health team is a relatively new concept for the area but it does exist in other parts of Ontario.

“We are bringing the family health team to the betterment of patients in North Dundas, South Dundas and South Stormont areas.”

Family health teams are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The Rideau St. Lawrence team received approval to hire staff in 2019.

A partnership between the health team and the Seaway Valley Community Health Care Centre has already been created.

“Patients from a group of medical clinics and physician offices within this catchment area will have access to these allied health professionals. Programs include chronic disease management, mental health, acute episodic care, and the prescription and description of opioids and narcotics,” said Derouchie.