Community leaders urge MPPs to consider benefits of increased access to Community Health Centre Care

    Meetings follow announcement CHCs will play major role in poverty
    reduction strategy.

    TORONTO, March 18 /CNW/ - Over 150 community leaders traveled to Queen's
Park today to urge MPPs to consider the benefits of increased access to health
care delivered by Ontario's Community Health Centres (CHCs). "Minister
Smitherman said it best himself when he announced this increased access during
the current government's first mandate," said Nena LaCaille and Ernest
Vaillancourt from Midland where a new Community health Centre will open next
year. "CHCs are one of the 'most effective tools we have' to deliver care to
populations and communities most in need of increased access to health care."
    The meetings between community leaders and MPPs follow news that CHCs
will play a major role in the province's new poverty reduction strategy.
Yesterday, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that over the course of the next
three years, the province will invest $135 million on a plan involving CHCs,
Public Health Units, dentists and dental hygienists to deliver oral health and
dental care to low-income families across the province. The announcement is
the latest demonstration of the current government's understanding of the role
played by CHCs in delivering comprehensive health care to those who need it
most. Ontario's CHCs are now in the midst of the largest expansion since they
first opened thirty years ago. The expansion involves the creation of 21 new
full centres and 28 new, smaller 'satellite' centres. By 2009, over 110
Ontario communities will have access to care delivered by a CHC.
    To highlight their positive impact reaching remote communities, a mobile
health unit operated by Thunder Bay's NorWest Community Health Centres,
traveled to Queen's Park so MPPs could see first hand how the CHC model of
care proactively reaches out to communities most in need of care. Every month
the mobile unit travels hundreds of kilometers to remote and isolated
communities in Northwestern Ontario. Traveling aboard are a nurse
practitioner, whom many people see as their regular primary care provider and
a foot care nurse who provides care to seniors and people dealing with chronic
disease. Another vital member of the team is a community health worker who
offers timely referrals so clients can easily access other kinds of health and
social services that they need.
    The mobile unit was launched six months ago thanks to funding from the
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. It delivers care in places most easily
accessed by community members: hockey rinks, community centres and schools.
"We're improving people's health and strengthening the health care system in
our region," said Tannice Fletcher-Stackhouse, the nurse practitioner who
travels with the Mobile Unit. "Now people don't have to travel long distances
to access health care, and because we make regular visits we can offer
preventative treatments. We're also taking the strain off the hospital
emergency room in Thunder Bay. We hope decision makers and MPPs here at
Queen's Park see the positive impact of CHC's proactive approach and continue
increasing access across the province."

For further information:

For further information: Mary MacNutt - (416) 294-2698; Interviews with
people who have received care from CHCs can be arranged. Background material
available at

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