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Crunch time for the Hub?

Tue Apr 10, 2012 Miss Vicky 

I haven't written much about the Hub lately. But things have been moving along, behind the scenes.

The big developments: Somerset West Community Health Centre's board approved a plan to put forward $1 million toward the Hub project and is putting together a community fundraising campaign for front-line health care in the 'Burg. The goal: $300k.

Of course, building a satellite medical centre is going to require more than 1.3 million. We need 3.8 million to cover the SWCHC portion of the purchase and development of a piece of property. Ouch, right?

Fortunately we do qualify for an Infrastructure Ontario Loan... but there is that nasty issue of carrying costs. For a non-profit community-based health centre that is doing amazing work on a shoestring, there's not a lot of wiggle room in the budget. We can handle the million and still do the amazing work. But we need help to cover the rest.

So SWCHC has applied to the Local Health Integration Network for an operating grant to help cover the carrying costs. They're thinking about it, and they are supposed to make a decision this week.

Time to cross fingers and toes, Hintonburg. Last week was pretty rough - austerity budgets at both federal and provincial levels of governments does not make one feel particularly hopeful that the powers-that-be will see that investing in health care in this neighbourhood is the right thing to do.

And it really is. Despite the province's finances, they have set out an action plan for health care that includes "Faster Access to Stronger Family Health Care" and states that "Itís important to find the help you need in the community to connect to the right care at the right time in the right place". What better fit than a community health centre, right? One that already runs programs in the community but could do so much more with a satellite clinic in an underserviced neighbourhood?

The Centre's already busting at the seams - people face long waits to get on the patient list for a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and the walk-in clinic only has so much capacity. The Hub is a great opportunity to add more patients and get more people the health care they need, right where they live. If the Hub is able to provide after-hours care, so much the better.

And there is a demand - I noticed when I went to the Superstore the other day that the clinic there is no longer accepting walk-in patients. We are still feeling the effects of the the loss of the Rosemount Clinic walk-in several years ago. When Hintonburg and Mechanicsville went through the Neighbourhood Planning Initiative, the community identified front-line health care as a major gap and a priority for planning.

The Hub is the best chance we have of filling that gap.

The absence of health care in the 'hood is going to become even more pronounced once intensification around the Bayview transit hub starts to happen in earnest. If SWCHC is unable to meet all the needs of its catchment area now, imagine once Lebreton Flats is further developed and the 20-plus story high rises go in around Bayview and the O-train line. If we're going to manage the growth responsibly, we need to think about the social infrastructure we're going to need to support this new community.

And then there is the existing community, full of seniors and families and (despite the gentrification) people with limited incomes and recent immigrants and plenty of folks with the chronic care needs that rely on the services SWCHC provides. The SWCHC outreach nurses already do a lot of work supporting seniors in their homes, and the centre provides a range of social services at sites around the neighbourhood. With the Hub, we have an opportunity to build a focal point for variety of health and social services, hopefully with some affordable homes to boot (more on this in another post).

The Hub has received letters of support from the Hintonburg Community Association, the CCOC, Councillor Hobbs and, yes, even the Mayor. Our MPP is in our corner. The SWCHC board has stepped up with a significant portion of the funds we need. We know it's a great idea, but in this climate a great idea and a needy community is no guarantee of success.

If the LHIN is unwilling to help, I'm not sure what other options exist to get this project off the ground. And that would be a shame.

So cross your fingers and toes, Hintonburg (and Mechanicsville, and Wellington Village, and Champlain Park). Let's hope the LHIN sees the sense of this project and is able to find the resources to help,

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