The Ontario College of Family Physicians has recognized a bilingual family clinic in Clarence-Rockland as one of the top two in the province.

The Clarence-Rockland Family Health Team books same-day appointments, has patients in an exam room within 10 minutes of arrival, and has doctors working evenings and weekends to accommodate those who can't make it during business hours.

The clinic has grown "dramatically in size" since it was established in the growing community eight years ago, said co-founder and executive director Harry Jones, who has 30 years of experience in health care.

"When we started, we had eight physicians — we're now 14. We had 9,000 patients — now we have 23,000 patients," Jones told Hallie Cotnam on Ottawa Morning.

The population of Clarence-Rockland was more than 23,000 when the last census was conducted in 2011, which represented an 11.5 per cent jump in five years. Jones said the clinic fills a major need for health care east of Ottawa.

"Look at a map of the region of Ottawa: there is no hospital between Ottawa and Hawkesbury. Nothing. But if you go the other way, you've got the Montfort, the General, the Queensway-Carleton, Carleton Place, Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke — all the little towns up the valley have hospitals — but nothing in what I call this patient care desert in Eastern Ontario," he said.

The clinic primarily serves francophones but about 25 per cent of its patients are anglophone.

Efficient business model

Clinic co-founder Dr. Steve Pelletier said the business model focuses on maximizing technology, design and human capacity for the most efficient health provider it can be, without sacrificing time with patients of the number of medical concerns that can be raised per appointment.

Some tasks are delegated to staff with specialized training to take pressure off nurses and doctors.

'If people are less sick down the line the demand will decrease, which means we'll have capacity to take more patients.' - Dr. Steve Pelletier

Pelletier said the clinic emphasizes preventative health care, including health notices on TV in the waiting room and medical education sessions.

"Patients will be less sick down the line. If people are less sick down the line the demand will decrease, which means we'll have capacity to take more patients," he said. "From a business perspective, I think that makes a lot of sense."

Technology is also key, with communication between staff done via texting and instant messages through electronic charts rather than phones and PA systems.

The Clarence-Rockland clinic was named Family Practice of the Year along with the St. Joseph's Urban Family Health Team in Toronto.

with files from Hallie Cotnam