Windsor

Team Care Centre opens doors to Windsor community, offers 'upstream approach' to patient care

The Windsor Family Health Team officially launched its Team Care Centre today. The initiative is what they're calling an "upstream approach" to integrate patient care.

Everyone at Team Care Centre 'gets it' says patient

'Sometimes we don't have the resources, social work that's affordable, psychiatry that's readily available,' says Dr. Christel Tayag, a family medicine practitioner. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The Windsor Family Health Team (WFHT) officially launched its Team Care Centre (TCC) today. The initiative is what they're calling an "upstream approach" to integrate patient care.

"We have a significant stake in community vitality," said WFHT executive director Mark Ferrari. He believes patient health plays a big role in that. 

The WFHT also provides health services to students at St. Clair College campuses. The TCC program was launched with a $1.5 million lot of funding in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"There are many things that affect health and wellbeing, not just physical illness," said Ferrari. "All of that, within the centre, we can address it."

Windsor Family Health Team executive director Mark Ferrari believes patient health plays a big role in community vitality. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

A team-based care centre brings the referral system internal, allowing for almost a "menu" of services that are provided in a quick timeline. The TCC focuses on mild-to-moderate mental health issues.

"Sometimes we don't have the resources, social work that's affordable, psychiatry that's readily available," said Dr. Christel Tayag, a family medicine practitioner who helped TCC launch the program, who said her patients are thrilled with how fast the referral process is.

Tayag said patients often have more than one mental health problem, listing stress, anxiety and depression as just a few.

After Tayag refers her patients to Team Care Centre, she doesn't treat them anymore for mental health problems — but she can collaborate with the patient's other practitioners.

"You can get their input, their advice, their recommendations," said Tayag. "It helps the patient as a whole, to connect with everybody else."

The referral system is free, which Tayag says especially helps low-income patients. There is a psychiatrist, social worker, dietician, addictions counsellor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist and podiatrist on the team. Ferrari said they are "desperately" in search of a physiotherapist and kinesiologist.

"My patients are grateful [for this team]," said Tayag. "Hopefully we continue to grow."

A patient's perspective

"In the decade I've been struggling with substance abuse, it's the first time I don't feel embarrassed to admit it," said Brittni Jacobs at the media launch.

Brittni Jacobs tears up when talking about her connection with her substance abuse counsellor:

Brittni Jacobs credits the Team Care Centre with helping her "feel like a person," even when recovering from substance abuse. 2:03

"I've judged myself enough but I've been shown so many outlets to keep manage my life."

Jacobs said everyone at TCC "gets it." She's been working through the centre's program for about four months and said it has really made a difference. 

"My experience here has been different than my past journeys in trying to become sober," said Jacobs, adding that the relationship she's built with her counsellor and the rest of the care team has made her feel like she was "worth saving."

Brittni Jacobs, left, thanks her substance abuse counsellor Beth Lalonde for treating her like a real person. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Jacobs works with Beth Lalonde, a certified addictions counsellor. Jacobs thinks they were "destined to meet."

"She wouldn't let me quit, even when I wanted to. She extended herself and her time, even out of appointments when I really needed someone," said Jacobs. "She treated me like a person."

To get into the centre, patients need to be referred by a doctor. The centre has had 500 referrals to date.

With files from Stacey Janzer

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