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‘Significant primary care challenge’ remains in Gravenhurst

The Cottage Country Family Health Team (CCFHT) is expressing its disappointment after missing out on the recent primary care funding announcement by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith. 

Dr. Tina Kappos, chair of CCFHT’s Board of Directors, says parts of Muskoka “face significant primary care challenges” after the Gravenhurst-based organization was not included in last week’s $1.26 million announcement by Smith. 

“Any increased health care funding to communities is a good thing,” adds Kappos, who notes the Couchiching Family Health Team also received funding recently.  

The announcement included $559,799 going to the Algonquin Family Health Team in Huntsville. 

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While disappointed, Kappos says she’s happy to see an increase in healthcare funding locally. 

Lorraine Johnston, executive director for CCFHT, received an endorsement from Gravenhurst council in April 2023 for CCFHT’s plan just before they submitted their proposal.  

“Due to the continued growth in our population and a large senior demographic, there are thousands of people without access to essential health care services,” says Kappos. “CCFHT chose to focus on Gravenhurst and Port Carling recognizing that these two communities within our geography had the greatest number of unattached patients.” 

She says two doctors have left Gravenhurst and Port Carling since CCFHT made its submission. 

“Our proposal had a larger vision for a community health hub in Gravenhurst that would provide services to all of South Muskoka and increase health care services in Port Carling’s existing building,” explains Kappos. “This vision included nurse practitioners, nursing and physiotherapy positions to support the unattached patients, senior and women’s health programming and an innovative visiting specialist clinic. We are acutely aware of the needs of our community, including challenges in travelling to care in neighbouring communities and are committed to building services as close to home as possible.” 

Kappos says the plan was to expand into the second floor of 5 Pineridge in Gravenhurst, which she says has been empty for the past 15 years, and was expected to include full-service diagnostic imaging. 

While she says the Board remains committed to finding new funding opportunities, they have been “rare” and they’re not sure when more money may become available. 

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