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 its 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.


To be the leading community health centre by providing accessible, quality healthcare to patients through primary and specialty physicians and allied health professionals.



To provide innovative, exemplary, patient-focused, community healthcare services, delivered by a dedicated multidisciplinary team, in support of the vision of the Group Health Centre.



  • Kindness:  be generous
  • Respect:  Show regard and consideration to all
  • Compassion:  Demonstrate you care
  • Accountability:  Take responsibility – always


Strategic Direction

  1. To pursue best practice
  2. To strengthen operational performance
  3. To enhance physician services through high-quality support
  4. To be the organization of choice for physicians and employees
  5. To grow strategically

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

Dr. Celia Ross,  Chair (2022-Present)

Dr. Celia Ross, Vice Chair (2020-2022)
Dr. Celia Ross (2014 – 2020)

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.

Bob Paciocco  (2014 – Present) 
Mr. 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 in Sault Ste. Marie.
Susan Vanagas-Cote, Vice Chair (2022-Present)
Susan Vanagas-Cote (2021-2022)

Susan Vanagas-Cote is a recently retired health care professional and administrator, beginning her career as a Speech-Language Pathologist and then serving as Executive Director for THRIVE Child Development Centre for 19 years.

Dr. Jodie Stewart (2019 – Present) 
Dr. Jodie Stewart is a family medicine physician at the Group Health Centre. Additionally, she is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Aaron Evans, Secretary/Treasurer (2020 – Present)
Aaron Evans is a Chartered Professional Accountant working at Algoma Steel as a Controller and General Manager of Information Technology.  Mr. Evans also teaches some courses at Algoma University and has been the Treasurer of the Sault Ste. Marie United Way for many years.  Mr. Evans has over 20 years of experience in various Accounting and IT roles, including significant leadership accountabilities in his current position at Algoma Steel.
Bill Thornton (2020 – Present)
Bill Thornton retired from the Ontario Public Service in May 2019 as Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and for the Northern Development and Mines portfolio of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, representing the Ontario government in numerous business restructuring and insolvency proceedings and providing oversight of several northern economic initiatives.  Mr. Thornton has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters of Business Administration from Dalhousie University. 

Dr. Jonathan DellaVedova (2022 – Present)

Dr. Jonathan DellaVedova is a Pediatrician at the Group Health Centre, the Chief of Pediatric & Neonatal Services at Sault Area Hospital, and an Associate Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. He completed medical school as a member of

NOSM's charter class and residency at the McMaster Children's Hospital. He formerly served as the President of the Professional Association of Residents of Ontario and on the Board of the Canadian Medical Association. He is also a member of the Algoma

District Medical Group.


Lil Silvano, President & CEO (2022 – Present) 

Liliana (Lil) Silvano is an accomplished executive who has held a number of senior leadership positions over the past two decades. In her most recent position as SAH’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Lil has provided leadership to a broad oversight and guidance to the hospital’s finance, decision support, information & communication technology, logistics, legal & insurance services, environmental services, and performance improvement departments. 


Dr. Ed Hirvi (2022 – Present) 

Dr. Edward Hirvi is a Family Physician and VP of Clinical Operations with Algoma District Medical Group. He is an Associate Professor and Family Medicine Section Chair at NOSM University. Dr. Hirvi is Past President of the Physician Clinical Teachers' Association and Co-Chair of the Northern Ontario Academic Medical Association Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Foundation for Medical Practice Education Board of Directors, Association of Canadian Chairs of Family Medicine and President of the Sault Ste. Marie Academic Medical Association. In 2021, Dr. Hirvi was awarded the Canadian Association for Medical Education Certificate of Merit Award. His professional interests include medical education, geriatrics, long-term care, and health informatics. 


Dr. Joseph Reich (2022 – Present) 

Dr. Joseph Reich is a General Surgeon in Sault Ste. Marie. Practicing at Group Health Centre the entirety of his career, for 23 years. He completed Medical School at Queen's University and General Surgery residency in Halifax. He is Medical Director of Surgery at Sault Area Hospital since 2006, Board Member for the Algoma District Medical Group since 2015 and Medical Director of Endoscopy OHPIP at Group Health Centre since 2016. 

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