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HomeNewsGravenhurst council endorses Cottage Country Family Health Team expansion plans

Gravenhurst council endorses Cottage Country Family Health Team expansion plans

After over a year of work, the Cottage Country Family Health Team (CCFHT) has submitted its plan to expand to the second floor of its building at 5 Pineridge Gt. in Gravenhurst.

Lorraine Johnston, Executive Director for CCFHT, says the second floor of the building has been left undeveloped for close to 13 years. The bottom floor is occupied by the Town of Gravenhurst’s municipal office and a satellite office for the CCFHT. 

She explains they sent a proposal to the Ministry of Health for funding to help with the expansion plans. Johnston expects to hear an expression of interest from the province sometime this month. At that point, she explains they will submit another application for capital and operational funding through Ontario Health.

Gravenhurst council endorsed the idea during its March 21 council meeting. 

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In May 2022, CCFHT and the Town of Gravenhurst agreed to amend the lane-use agreement they have for the building at Pineridge Gt. While CCFHT owns the building, the town owns the land it sits on.

Mayor Heidi Lorenz points out that over 5,000 residents in Muskoka are on waiting lists. “We should be advocating for better care in Gravenhurst,” she says, pointing out that healthcare is a provincial mandate. 

“There is space and there is a will to do so,” continues Lorenz. 

Dr. Keith Cross says they have received support from the District of Muskoka, too. He adds they plan to meet with Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith next week to discuss the proposal. 

Johnston says that as well as partnering with the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team and other community partners only bolsters their proposal. “The vision of the province is that you partner with your Ontario Health Team and community partners,” she says. “You don’t approach this as a solo agency looking to expand.”

Cross says developing the upper floor is an opportunity to bring in specialists. He says they have had discussions with a group in Toronto that could help facilitate that. As well, Cross says a diagnostic program with radiology and ultrasound on-site is on CCFHT’s wishlist, plus growing the existing laboratory service. 

Johnston says they will move forward with a diagnostic imaging program regardless if they get funding this round. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” she says. Johnston hopes to get funding as soon as possible but says if they don’t, they will continue fighting to get the funds needed to develop the top floor of the building. “Once the space is developed, we won’t have any trouble filling it with partners,” she adds. 

“We’re trying to bring that care closer to home,” says Johnston. 

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