January 28, 2014

Algoma Public Health and Group Health Centre ink affiliation agreement
First formal partnership between public health and primary care in Canada

Sault Ste. Marie, ON - Dr. Kim Barker, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for Algoma Public Health, and Grant B. Walsh, President and CEO of the Group Health Centre, are proud to announce a new partnership between the two organizations.

While public health and primary care have partnered in many communities on a project-by-project basis, this agreement is the first of its kind in the country to establish a solid link between a community health centre and a public health unit, with goals to reduce duplication, and encourage consolidation of infrastructure and shared services.

"This partnership opens up incredible opportunities for both the Group Health Centre and Algoma Public Health when it comes to managing population health," said Dr. Brian Mitchell, chair of the Group Health Centre Board and a practicing physician with the Group Health Centre. "It's the difference between sick care, and health care," he said to Algoma Public Health Board Chair Marchy Bruni, after they signed the affiliation agreements Wednesday night. "With the health unit and the local doctors working together, we can get to the population before they get sick."

Algoma Public Health's Dr. Kim Barker, is equally enthusiastic about the partnership. "It's a phenomenal opportunity," she said. "The big question in healthcare delivery has always been, 'how do you integrate primary health care and public health services to better support the health and wellness of a community?'. With this affiliation, public health will be able to work with over 80 physicians at the Group Health Centre that have access to tens of thousands of patients - and that kind of access means we're better able to promote our services, understand where the burdens of disease lie, and, going forward, being able to evaluate the impact of programs and services we may be delivering on particular areas of concern."

"Our organizations hope that a successful partnership may be used as a model for other public and primary providers to work together for the health of their community," said Grant Walsh. "It is also an opportunity for our provincial colleagues to look at new models of collaboration in service and care."

Both boards will meet semi-annually to review the effectiveness of the affiliation, and to make adjustments or approve further integration as the relationship evolves.

Algoma Public Health is committed to preventing disease and to protecting and promoting the health of individuals and communities in the Algoma District.

The Group Health Centre serves over 71,000 Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District residents, and is the leader in providing quality outpatient service and care with high patient satisfaction.

For more information please contact:

Leo Vecchio
Media Coordinator
Algoma Public Health
705-942-4646, ext. 3066
Grant B. Walsh
President & Chief Executive Officer
Group Health Centre

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