Central Community Health Centre offers a different model of care
Published in the St. Thomas Weekly, January 2011

You’re new to the area and haven’t found a doctor yet? Or, your doctor has retired, or you haven’t seen a doctor in years? What do you do when you’re sick?

You might go to a walk-in clinic or the hospital emergency department. But if you want regular ongoing health care and don’t have a doctor, another option is the Central Community Health Centre (CCHC).

Opened in October 2010 at 359 Talbot Street, the CCHC is intended to complement and alleviate pressure on existing health care services, not replace them.

Funded by the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), part of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the CCHC is a not-for-profit organization that is one of 125 centres across Ontario. It provides primary health care, illness prevention and health promotion to residents of Central Elgin, Southwold Township and St. Thomas. Services are free to clients.

What makes it different is its team approach to health care. “If you become a client, you won’t necessarily see a doctor,” says Judith Wiley, CCHC Executive Director. “You might see a nurse practitioner or a registered nurse, depending on what you need.”

Similar to the family practice model of some doctors, the team approach of a community health centre involves multi-disciplinary staff in a client’s care. The CCHC has funding for three doctors, two nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, two social workers, dietitian, health promoter, chiropodist and community outreach worker.

“This model treats the client as a whole,” says Cathy Grondin, a CCHC board member, but she agrees that this model is not for everyone, either clients or staff.

Clients may not see the same person every time they come in. This can be disconcerting for some people, even though it allows clients to access service in a more timely manner than if they saw one person exclusively.

“The team model takes a certain mentality, even for health care workers,” Wiley says. “It’s not a hierarchy but a team, making sure that clients get the best care possible.”

Because the CCHC is in a start-up phase, it is not expected to deliver a full slate of programs and services until recruitment of its full physician and staff complement is completed this year. It is in the process of an aggressive campaign to hire additional practitioners.

“The community certainly has a real need for our services,” says Grondin. The CCHC already has more than 200 clients and will soon be offering a Mobile Unit in the spring of 2011.

For more information, call 519-633-7989.