Ontario’s Community Health Centres (CHCs) are community governed not-for-profit primary health care organizations
They stand out from other primary health care model s because they deliver primary care services in health promotion and community development programs.
CHCs focus on keeping people - and the communities where they live - in good health. If health problems are caused by social and environmental issues, health teams work with community members and develop programs to reduce them.
A total of 74 CHCs serve approximately 500,000 people with 250, 000 of these accessing primary care services.
Community governance at CHCs, gives people a voice and a choice about the health services they receive. CHCs are also key connectors: interprofessional health teams partner with other health and social service agencies.
CHCs’ comprehensive approach produces a superior quality of care. According to the Élisabeth Bruyère Institute, compared to other models, CHCs deliver superior health promotion services and chronic disease prevention and management. They also do a better job orienting services to community needs.
CHCs direct services to those with complex needs. And a new study from the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Studies shows that even though CHCs serve people with more complex needs, they do a better job than other primary care models keeping people out of hospital emergency departments.
CHCs are key contributors to the sustainability of our healthcare system. By creating community-based hubs where a wide range of services are integrated under one roof, they provide excellent value for money.
The average capital cost to build one CHC as a hub with several services under one roof is $6M. To build over 100 hubs across the province would cost less than the wing of a mid-sized hospital.
CHCs ease pressures on the costly acute and long-term care system because they focus on health promotion and prevention, keeping people out of emergency departments and hospital beds.
CHC effectiveness will get even better as they move forward with with a shared electronic health record system. Sharing the same system will enable CHCs to analyze their performance and press forward with quality improvement agenda.
Despite their effectiveness, only 4% of people living in Ontario have access to Community Health Centres. The Association of Ontario Health Centres is calling for equity and populations needs-based primary health care planning to strengthen their role.