About Group Health Centre

Group Health Centre was founded in 1963 as one of the first union-sponsored community health centres in Canada. Founded by thousands of Sault Ste. Marie steelworkers, Group Health Centre promised its members primary and preventative care with no out-of-pocket cost at a time before provincial health insurance existed.

Since opening the doors over 50 years ago, the Centre has been a leader in medical innovation and the site of countless pilot projects and studies on a provincial, national, and international level. Some of the most notable successes include being the site for a World Health Organization study on preventative care in the 60s, being one of the first sites in Canada to employ “non-traditional nurses” (now known as Nurse Practitioners) in the 70s, and being one of the first sites in Canada to move to electronic medical records in the 90s.

Group Health Centre has won National Best Practice Awards, was featured in Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s top ten models of healthcare, and was once referred to as “Canada’s best kept health care secret” by Commissioner for the Future of Health Care in Canada, Roy Romanow.


GHC by the numbers

GHC is home to:
  • 80 primary and specialty care physicians
  • 11 nurse practitioners
  • Over 100 nurses
  • 33 allied health professionals
  • More than a dozen clinical programs
  • 70,000 rostered patients
  • The largest community based Diagnostic Imaging facility in Sault Ste. Marie
    • We perform over 41,000 procedures each year - including ultrasound, x-ray, mammography and bone mineral densiometry.
  • The largest Physiotherapy department in Sault Ste. Marie
    • Includes 5 physiotherapists and 2 physiotherapy assistants
GHC serves over 80,000 patients in our community with a combined total of over 300,000 visits across our 8 sites in Sault Ste. Marie.

GHC Board of Directors

Pictured (L-R): Alex Lambert, Bud Wildman, Dr. Chris Bruni, Dr. Celia Ross, Theresa Cassan, Dr. David Fera, Dr. Brian Mitchell, Bob Paciocco, Dr. Kirk Zufelt, Don Pezzutto

Bud Wildman, Chair  (2017 – Present)
Bud Wildman was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Algoma for seven terms – serving over 23 years as an elected MPP.  He also served as the Minister of Natural Resources, Minister responsible for Native Affairs and Minister of Environment and Energy.
Dr. Brian Mitchell, Vice Chair  (2017– Present) 
Dr. Brian Mitchell is an Ophthalmologist at the Group Health Centre.  He is also a member of the Algoma District Medical Group.

Theresa Cassan, Secretary-Treasurer (2013 - Present)
Theresa Cassan obtained her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA CA) designation and worked for 17 years in public practice with Grant Thornton LLP and its predecessor firms.  In 2012 she became Director of Credit and Risk Services at Northern Credit Union. 
Alex Lambert, President and Chief Executive Officer (2012 – Present)
Alex Lambert is the CEO of the Group Health Centre. His career spans the public and private sectors across several different industries.  He has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Chris Bruni (2012– Present)
Dr. Chris Bruni is a family medicine physician at the Group Health Centre.  He is also a member of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Dr. David Fera  (2012– Present)
Dr. David Fera is a family medicine physician at the Group Health Centre.  Additionally, he is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Bob Paciocco  (2014 – Present)
Bob Paciocco graduated from the University of Windsor Law School in 1973. He was called to the Bar in 1975 and has since been practicing corporate/commercial law in Sault Ste. Marie.

Don Pezzutto (2012 – Present)
Don Pezzutto is retired from Algoma Steel where he served as a representative for Local 4509 United Steelworkers of America.  He has been actively involved in supporting the Group Health Centre over the years, including serving as Board Chair of the Group Health Centre Trust Fund. Don is also an original sponsor of the Group Health Centre - contributing $135 toward the Centre in the early 60s when he was making just over a dollar an hour himself.
Dr. Celia Ross (2014 – Present)
Celia Ross is the former president of Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Dr. Ross received her doctorate degree in French literature from the Université de Bordeaux III.
Dr. Kirk Zufelt (2012 – Present)
Dr. Kirk Zufelt is a pediatric physician at the Group Health Centre.  He attended medical school at McMaster University. Dr. Zufelt received his pediatric training at Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London and subsequent pediatric cardiology training at Sick Kids. He is also a member of the Algoma District Medical Group.

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The contents of this site are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.