Rural hospital should be a hub for health care. Barry's Bay clinic shines a light

While the McGuinty government is trying just about everything (short of bricking up the front doors) to stop health care from happening in hospitals, St. Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry's Bay is trying out a very interesting experiment that is expanding the range of local services available through the hospital.

Instead of the usual attempts to close down hospital clinics, the hospital has opened a Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) nursing clinic.  The CCAC used to sponsor a health clinic, but although it was located right next door to the hospital, red tape and bureaucratic obstacles ate up hours of time for patients, doctors and nurses if any referrals were necessary.  The clinic closed in February, unable to sustain itself on low patient volumes.

The pilot project in the hospital was launched on June 28 and is scheduled to wrap up on Sep. 12. Reportedly there will then be talks between the CCAC, the hospital, and the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to determine whether the project is continued.

"I think it's the first step to many opportunities to look at how, on the rural side, the hospital with all its resources, its history, its culture could be the one providing more care in the community" says the hospital Chief Operating Officer, Jeremy Stevenson.

"We're providing some local care, right here in our community, people seen within a few minutes, and any time of the day versus in the past when you had to come in within those four hours. We can provide the service the whole day. It's just phenomenal."

Indeed, this does sound good.  
Given the push by the McGunty government to shrink the scope of hospital services (and especially shrink small town hospital services),  the future of local hospitals in smaller communities depends on them becoming hubs for a wide variety of health services. That integration will keep them vital and able to attract doctors and other health care staff.

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