An announcement made for Rural and Urban Clinics in Sarnia-Lambton on April 19, 2024 (Photo by: Lindsay Newman/ Blackburn Media)An announcement made for Rural and Urban Clinics in Sarnia-Lambton on April 19, 2024 (Photo by: Lindsay Newman/ Blackburn Media)

Sarnia-Lambton urban and rural health clinics to get funding boost

More residents could have access to a primary care provider in Sarnia-Lambton.

Ontario's Ministry of Health is providing $910,000 in funding to Rapids Family Health Team, Central Lambton Family Health Team, and North Lambton Community Health Centre.

The announcement was made at the TD Plympton-Wyoming Wellness Centre Friday.

This is a part of a $110 million investment announced in February and $6.4 million announced on Thursday for Lambton County, Chatham-Kent, and the London area.

Central Lambton Family Health Team Executive Director Ralph Ganter said this one-time funding will support the joint initiative started during the pandemic and enhance the sites in Sarnia and Plympton-Wyoming.

He said it will expand the Wyoming site to increase operations and expand services at the Rapids Family Health Team Access to Care.

"Right now we're only operating four hours per day, four days a week and we want to ramp that up to at least six hours of actively seeing patients at least four days per week," Ganter said.

The clinic opened during the pandemic and originally was a COVID-19 testing centre.

It now provides care for things like ear infections, respiratory infections or minor gastric upsets.

Ganter said currently the clinic sees about 175 to 180 patients per month.

He said he's thrilled about receiving this money.

"This is so important and part of the mandate is to try to help the hospital and prevent emergency department visits so, it's just great," Ganter said. "What's nice is now we can stabilize our staffing, hire people and get it going."  

The next step is for staff to be hired permanently and for the expansion of services.

Ganter said it's hard to say if this is enough funding.

"We'll see what the volumes are, what the demand is because what we'll start to do now is advertise more, so maybe we'll get a lot more than the funding covers," he said.

As for how much this specific clinic is getting, Ganter explained there will be discussions with the Rapids Family Health Team. 

He said the goal between the organizations is to see 9,000 people.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey said he's happy to see the funding coming into the community.

"Thousands and thousands of people still don't have a primary care provider, so this is one step towards filling that need," he said.

Bailey also believes this is just the start of funding for health care in Lambton County.

"There's going to be more funding as more needs are developed, more needs are seen, I can see more clinics as the needs arise," he said.

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