Red Lake Medical Associates on the Hunt

Less than 800 patients needed to round-out FHT roster
By Lisa Dumontier

The Red Lake Medical Associates Clinic is doing its best to round up remaining residents needed to roster a full compliment of patients to the Red Lake Family Health Team. Embarking on the endeavour in early 2011, the Clinic pledged to register 4,600 patients in an effort to secure appropriate financial support from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOH) and with its March deadline looming; the local health agency is only steps away from reaching that hefty goal.

An approach to primary health care that brings together different health care providers to co-ordinate the highest possible quality of care for patients, Family Health Teams (FHT) were initiated by the provincial government in April of 2005 to provide support for doctors from other complementary professionals. Aimed at providing the best care as close to home as possible, FHTs generally include doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers and psychologists who work collaboratively, each utilizing their experience and skills in areas including disease management and prevention, disease cure, palliative care and health promotion.

But why is it important to roster as a patient with the Red Lake FHT? According to the local agency, the Ministry of Health has decided that the number of patients registered to the FHT will provide a baseline for all funding decisions affecting the Red Lake Medical Associates, its complement of physicians and the services offered by Red Lake FHT members. While registering as a patient with the FHT is totally voluntary, as of December 15, 2011, non-rostered patients are no longer able to access appointments or prescription renewals without an appointment although urgent care is still being provided.

“By signing the roster form you agree that, unless you’re travelling or find yourself in an emergency situation, you will contact your family physician group/Family Health Team first when you have a health need,” detailed Georgie Shuurman on behalf of the Red Lake FHT. “You also agree to allow the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to provide your doctor with some information about health services you have received from family physicians outside of your network and you are free to change the doctor you are enrolled with up to twice a year. The physician group in turn agrees to provide you with comprehensive care.”

“While the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care states that your enrolment as a patient is voluntary, it is not voluntary for the physicians. They must enrol patients, and the MOH uses these enrolment statistics when determining funding and resources needed for small communities like Red Lake,” she continued. “It is for this reason that the physician group has decided that in order to fulfill the requirements set by the Ministry, the clinic will be unable to provide non-rostered Ontario residents with booked appointments or prescription renewals. Emergency and urgent care services will of course still be available to all.”

Noting that the rostering process applies only to residents who receive their primary health care in Red Lake, possess a local postal code and have valid OHIP coverage, the FHT insists that registering as a patient with the Red Lake FHT is really quite simple and requires families or local residents over the age of 16 to fill out a one-page form which is then sent out to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to formalize the relationship between the physician, the health team and the patient.

Local residents yet to roster as a patient with the Red Lake Family Health Team or those requiring more information on why it is important to roster as a patient locally are encouraged to contact the Red Lake Medical Associates Clinic (727-2751) for further information.

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