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This article was published 10/9/2018 (1106 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new project aims to create connections to the health care system for some of the city’s most vulnerable.
Pathway Project is operated by the bilingual clinic of Centre de santé Saint-Boniface to help link primary care providers to people who have difficulty navigating the Family Doctor Finder system.
So far, the initiative has connected more than 80 people to members of primary care teams, which can include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or other health care workers.
Julie Lévesque-Taylor, a family doctor and the medical director of the Centre de santé Saint-Boniface, said the project was developed to help people who might have trouble accessing health care for a variety of reasons.
"Our established process for anybody who wants to become a client or patient at our clinic is to go through Doctor Finder. Generally, you would either call their number or go online to register. The process usually entails that somebody will call you back or send you an email. For someone who is well educated and knows how to use the internet and has access to a phone, they would have absolutely no difficulty going through that process," she said.
"But imagine yourself being a homeless person or somebody living with a mental health issue or maybe a new immigrant who doesn’t understand how the health care system works or an elderly person with a little dementia and no family to help you through the process. There are all sorts of barriers that the system puts in front of people, and with these barriers, people fall through the cracks."
To bridge the gap, Centre de santé is working with community organizations and provincial programs to help people fill out the registration form and set up an appointment within three days. These connections can be made by income assistance workers, mental health workers, settlement workers, and school counsellors, among others. If the client doesn’t show up for the first appointment, then the community partner who made the connection will follow up.
Once a client is matched with a primary care provider, the family can continue to see the provider on a long-term basis and access service in French or English.
"This has nothing to do with jumping the queue. We still assess needs and triage how quickly we give out appointments based on vulnerability and complexity and need," Lévesque-Taylor said.
"It’s more to help people who can’t use the established process to eliminate those barriers. It started small with the schools and with our partners directly in the community and now it’s ballooned into something really wonderful."