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Budget Committee approves Ren Centre, Family Health Team funding

Health Team gets $72,000 to operate video medical clinic
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"I'd like to put forward a motion that the Ad Hoc Budget Committee continue to support the Renaissance Active Living Centre in the amount of a $25,000 grant and a tax rebate of $4,500 for the 2020 year."

With that motion by Mayor Dan Marchisella, the Elliot Lake Ad Hoc Budget Committee approved the the centre's ask and added it to the City of Elliot Lake budget.

Centre President Gail Crawford told the committee the organization's membership fluctuates between 300 members, at the present time, up to 500 members. The current paid membership is 272. In addition to providing programs that help promote the health and well-being of the senior population, the Ren Centre also assists the Elliot Lake medical community by providing their cardio and pulmonary patients – under the supervision of nurses – with the use of the Centre's gym for their programs.

"Without your financial support, we are unable to offer these programs or leverage a repair and maintenance grant in the amount of $42,700 from the Ministry of Seniors Affairs,” Crawford explained. “Our aging building requires constant ongoing maintenance and repairs. For instance, we are at present renovating the washrooms and installing a barrier free washroom at a cost of close to $33,000. We had applied for a grant from the Trillium Foundation to assist with these, but with grant dollars very much in demand we were, unfortunately, not approved."

The committee also gave its blessing to spending $72,000 this year to cover the costs of operating a video medical clinic which was set up on a trial basis last year.

From the Elliot Lake Family Health Team, Executive Director Nancy Ewen told the Budget Committee, "It's been pretty exciting for us to to move forward with just a little update. We have moved from one physician when we started in September to now four physicians. We have Dr. Lone, Dr. Lopez, Dr.Gutstein, and, coming up very soon, Dr. Rafiq."

The clinic operates Monday to Friday each week during business hours.

"This is one area we have not had any trouble getting physicians to do this. I have people contacting me on a weekly basis to sign up. So it's been very successful in that respect," Ewen went on. "A couple of physician and patient testimonies I thought I'd throw in Dr Lopez who says: 'Patient care is going to be much better managed now in a clinic setting.' Dr Lone firmly believes with regular follow up and routine access to care, even in the form of a virtual clinic the patients of Elliot Lake will be better served and their health outcomes will improve. Dr. Gutstein is saying these individuals require monitoring and follow up with a physician on a regular basis, and it is astonishing that many have not been seen by a doctor in several years. Dr. Lone firmly believes with regular follow up and routine access to care even in the form of a virtual clinic, the patients of Elliot Lake will be better served and their health outcomes will improve."

"Another patient says, 'We're both in and out of there within an hour highly recommend it.' We have a signed consent. It's a package that we give to the patients when they come in. Signed consents are just saying that they know what they're doing. It's a virtual appointment they're going to be on video. It's not recorded, but they understand the process. They understand the rules of the virtual clinic, we do not prescribe the opioid prescriptions prescriptions. We can have them (prescriptions) faxed in by the pharmacy so if they need another prescription they just come in and book an appointment. We also require a recent medication list as well as the complete medical history questionnaire. If a patient presents and they do not have that information into us, we can still l see them, it's just nice to have for the physician," said Ewen. 

Mayor Dan Marchisella asked Ewen, "I'm just curious, what is the current number of unrostered patients in our community? And I know we have a constant turnaround of new members to our community so that can fluctuate?”

Ewen replied, "We originally guesstimated 1,500. But we have a Healthcare Connect list, which is where patients will go to sign up to be placed with a physician, which is a long process. That list says we have only 300 patients (unrostered). In speaking with the physicians and looking at some of the data that we have, I just asked for some stats this week, and it shows we had 3,500 unrostered patients in our system, whether they've been seen in the Emerg, or seen with us, or to fill out a document of some sort. And that's Elliott Lake and surrounding area."

The cost of the video medical program which operates out of the Elliot Lake Family Health Team headquarters in the ELNOS building, is $300 dollars a day for staffing. That includes a registered nurse who works with administrative staff and assists with forms, processes requests, handles follow-ups, and goes through labs. Ewen said the involvement of a nurse practitioner in the process is "very useful."  She stressed the Health Team is not making a profit on the operation.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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