More delays plague Central Health Team

MINDEMOYA—The Manitoulin Central Family Health Team (FHT) is no closer to fulfilling its capital project dream, but executive director Lori Oswald remains positive that the province will remain committed to its promise that Central Manitoulin will one day have a proper facility to house its FHT health practitioners.

“We’re still at the ministry (Ministry of Health and Long Term Care) awaiting (capital funding) approval,” Ms. Oswald told The Expositor, explaining that her last communication with the ministry was months ago. “(Approval) has to go through 13 sets of signatures all the way up to the minister. As much as I’d love to say we’ll hear something soon, I have no idea.”

Ms. Oswald noted that last year saw much back and forth conversation between the FHT and the Ministry of Health as the ministry was not pleased with the numbers put forward in terms of construction costs for the 4,148 square foot building. At the time Ms. Oswald expressed frustration with Toronto bureaucrats not understanding the higher costs of construction in Northern Ontario. Despite this, the FHT worked diligently to cut costs, coming to an amount the ministry could agree with. But since then there has been radio silence.

“The capital branch of the ministry and the Northeast Local Health Integration Network have given us the approval to attach it to the hospital, but there has been no approval to actually build,” Ms. Oswald said.

“So how do we actually function without a building?” Ms. Oswald posed the question. She explained that there are currently 10 people working out of two different trailers, including nurses, administration staff, health promoters and physicians. “A wide range of skills,” she said.

“It’s a juggling act and we try to pay attention to the fact that providers with the Family Health Team work alongside physicians,” Ms. Oswald continued. “For instance, we do education-based group sessions in the board room at the hospital. These sessions have been very well received.”

She explained that there are only eight exam rooms in the basement of the Mindemoya Hospital, but that there are many people vying for those eight rooms. “We have literally used every nook and cranny—it takes a lot of creativity,” she said.

“After awhile, working in these conditions becomes very wearing,” she added. “I have to commend the staff for their tolerance and acceptance in an undesirable situation.”

“I think it will happen,” she said of the FHT expansion. “We’ve come too far not to, although I have nothing to back this up other than a good attitude. It would look bad on the ministry now if they were to say no.”

Ms. Oswald joked that eventually she and Manitoulin Health Centre CEO Derek Graham would start on their own, breaking ground with their very own shovels.

Alicia McCutcheon