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PQCHC aiming to serve 2,500 more healthcare clients—without new funding

All PQCHC primary care clients are welcome to get in touch with questions. Please email or phone 613-820-4922.

July 12, 2022 (Ottawa)—1.3 million people across Ontario are without a healthcare provider, according to estimates by Statistics Canada. Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre (PQCHC) has a waiting list of people seeking a health care provider. Many of these are newcomers, who face more barriers to finding a healthcare provider. And, who have systemic and historic reasons to mistrust healthcare systems.

PQCHC has been looking more closely at how to best serve healthcare patients. And, to build the best team to provide that care.

PQCHC has discovered opportunities to serve more patients

  • Because of outdated employee and patient scheduling practices (healthcare appointments at PQCHC are currently 30 minutes by default, regardless of the patient's need), PQCHC is serving 25-30 per cent less patients than we are funded to serve. And 70 per cent less than other family medicine models of practice (that are not community health centres).

  • We know that some of our patients aren’t getting their needs met. As a result, 45 per cent of our patients sought care from another health care provider or in the emergency department during the last two years. When people can’t get the right care at the right time, provincial reports indicate that they are sicker and have more advanced illnesses by the time they arrive at the emergency department.

  • PQCHC scored higher than benchmarks in our workplace psychological health and safety in the Guarding Minds at Work survey in November 2020. However, the Primary Care team’s workplace psychological health and safety results were lower than PQCHC’s organizational average. A follow-up survey conducted a year later, in the fall of 2021, showed the same. The results in both 2020 and 2021 were shared with the Primary Care team. While heightened stress was to be expected amongst medical professionals during a pandemic, the leadership team learned from our team about things that needed to change.

  • We had open conversations about the score and what the team felt needed to improve. So, moving forward, we’re building a team of healthcare providers that exhibit the behaviours that contribute to a healthy team environment.

The team we’re building We’ve made important changes. PQCHC has restructured internal teams and has changed roles to build a stronger team and to ensure healthcare appointments are available when clients need them. This means a small number of employees are no longer with PQCHC. This restructuring is complete and we are very excited to work with our talented team that exhibit the behaviours that contribute to a healthy team environment. Meanwhile, everyone who is a patient with PQCHC remains a patient with PQCHC. Everyone can still receive care. And, our plan means that 2,500 more residents will be able to receive care. As appointment scheduling changes to serve more clients, we’ve been working closely with the healthcare team to meet their scheduling preferences, both part-time and full-time. How PQCHC will serve 2,500 more patients With some internal changes, PQCHC can provide our patients with faster access to healthcare appointments. And, serve 2,500 more people living in our catchment area. Without needing new funding. Because of the desperate need of many for primary care, this work has been underway for years and has accelerated in the past few months. We are trying to play our part in serving clients at the right time, by the right person, within their community. Many of our clients have a number of complex health concerns. Many require translation services for us to provide care. Healthcare appointments at PQCHC are currently 30 minutes by default, regardless of what the patient needs. We will start doing a better job of asking the client in advance what the appointment will be about and then booking the appropriate amount of time with the appropriate professional (e.g. dietician, chiropodist, registered nurse, etc.). This empowers the client to help guide and manage their own healthcare. As a result, we know from other providers that the average appointment can be shorter and address the complexity of our client’s needs without impacting care. This will also allow our team to see more clients, ensure clients see the professional best suited to address their issue (e.g. dietician, mental health clinician,, registered nurse, etc.), get people off the waiting list and allow the range of professionals to work in the areas they are prepared for. Clients who require a longer appointment time will still receive one. Our clients will continue to be taken care of, as they always have. The plan is making care better. There will also be more appointments at more times, beyond 8:30-4:30, to work with patient work schedules (many have multiple part-time jobs), child care demands, caregiver demands, and more, with both in-person and virtual appointments. Hiring Community health centres have one of the best family medicine models for many medical practitioners. At PQCHC, our healthcare team is paid a salary, and has a maximum 35-hour work week, flexible scheduling, with built-in administration time each day, paid vacation, sick leave, and training time. There are no overtime demands and our model of practice does not require them to bill by appointment or service. Medical practitioners are paid a salary. Our team of 23 physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses have a fulsome team around them, including a dietician, a chiropodist, system navigators and mental health professionals among other team members. PQCHC works with each employee who needs harmony between their work and home schedules. Employees were able to work from home. We also have a process through which employees can request time off or modifications to their work schedule. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been able to work with staff whose childcare is suddenly unavailable. Our staff have five personal family days per year, 15 sick days, four weeks of vacation per year and a 35-hour work week. By contrast, other family medicine practices (non-community health centre practices) see 70 per cent more clients per week than PQCHC practitioners currently do. They bill per appointment and service. And, pay their own overhead, team (admin, nurses, leasing) and equipment costs from their billings. As a result, our hiring is going well. Since April, we’ve been in the process of hiring new primary care providers who are aligned with our vision of client-centred care and who reflect the diverse communities we serve. Some providers have already started, we’re having excellent conversations with candidates who are eager to join our team, and we anticipate being fully staffed before the end of the summer. New Client Advisory Council PQCHC is also creating a Client Advisory Council that co-designs programs and creates a direct link between clients and the leadership team. PQCHC clients are welcome to join the advisory council and PQCHC will be reaching out to our clients soon so they can help us shape our new vision of care.


All PQCHC primary care clients are welcome to get in touch with questions. Please email or phone 613-820-4922.