Due to the rising numbers of respiratory illnesses in our region, the North Simcoe Family Health Team (NSFHT) opened the COVID-19, Cold and Flu Care Clinic (CCFCC) on December 14, 2022. The goal of the clinic is to ease the pressure on the hospital emergency department and provide alternative, accessible care for the community.
“The hospital is very pleased with the success of this clinic because of the substantial positive impact it’s had on our community. Having this service available for low acuity illness such as cold and flu enables the hospital to focus on high patient volumes for more serious, complex patients,” says Angie Saini, vice president, Clinical Services and chief nursing executive. “The COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic is a perfect example of the how partners working together through Ontario Health Teams can make a difference in providing accessible, coordinated access for patients. It really is about providing the right care in the right setting at the right time.”
Since opening its doors, the clinic has seen over 550 patients in a six-week period, and doesn’t expect to see a decrease in demand in the coming months. This demand includes children and individuals who do not have a primary healthcare provider and require same-day access.
“We've seen high volumes of individuals and families through the clinic in the past six weeks and we want to make sure we continue offering as much support as we can to those who need it,” says Andrew Shantz, Executive Director of the North Simcoe Family Health Team. “On most days the clinic is fully booked and there continues to be a growing demand – especially with access to same-day or next-day appointments. When fully staffed, the CCFCC can see 35-40 patients per day.”
The clinic’s role is to provide assessment, testing and treatment for people experiencing COVID-19, cold, flu or other respiratory symptoms, and offers an opportunity for families and individuals in North Simcoe to access care quickly and efficiently.
“Unfortunately, our community does not have another option for urgent care beyond the
hospital’s Emergency Department. Without support like the CCFCC, most patients will either end up at the Emergency Department – which is not always the best place for this sort of care – or make the decision to not seek the care they require” says Shantz.
The clinic was originally created to support the community’s healthcare needs during the
pandemic and the heightened cold and flu season. However, the CCFCC has proven to be an excellent option for those not requiring emergency department care, but seeking medical assessment, care and navigation for all non-emergent issues – including chronic disease management, surge response, preventative care etc.
“It is our understanding that the CCFCC funding will cease on March 31, 2023. A clinic like this is able to adapt to the needs of the community – whether it’s supporting patients with colds, episodics, or preventative care. It’s going to be a challenge for our community to lose a service that is so highly needed, and we know that other clinics across the province are facing similar challenges,” says Shantz.
For more information, community members are encouraged to contact their local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) to inquire about the sustainability of the COVID-19, Cold and Flu Care Clinic in North Simcoe.