On the evening of Monday, Apr. 17 and into Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2023, some people in the Kingston area began talking online about a for-profit health care facility being designed by Queen’s University for the area — a facility that does not yet exist and, according to the university, will not employ a for-profit model.
Looking into a number of social media posts that pointed towards a $500 per person charge for a new health care facility which would address the family physician shortage in Kingston and area, Kingstonist found that the rumours stemmed from a Global Kingston report that aired on Monday, Apr. 17, 2023 regarding plans for a new “Health Home.”
The fact is, a new Health Home for Kingston is a long way off. The concept is one that Queen’s Health Sciences has in the works as part of its “Radical Collaboration for a Healthier World 2026” strategic plan, Year One of which was completed in 2022. According to documents from the “Radical Collaboration” plan, the strategy involves “10 key initiatives,” for which the Faculty of Health Sciences established “the Big 10 implementation teams to move forward.”
In terms of the Health Home, Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences documents indicate that Dr. Roger Pilon is the project lead.
“There are approximately 20,000 unattached patients in the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington region without a primary care physician. The vision of the new Health Home is to provide universal access to integrated and person-centric primary care by offering core health services onsite, seamless connections to other health and wellness services, and providing equity-oriented health service delivery,” Pilon said in a Q&A feature on the faculty’s website.
“In doing so, we hope to have a healthier population, provide an optimal environment for clinical training, recruit new health professionals to this region, and create a cost-effective, scalable model of health service delivery that can be replicated in other communities.”
The news segment published by Global Kingston used snippets from a video on YouTube featuring Dr. Jane Philpott, Dean of Health Sciences at Queen’s, speaking about the Health Home concept; the video was part of an Ontario Priorities Panel video series posted earlier this year. And while the Global segment attributed to Philpott the claim regarding a $500 per person cost, Philpott is actually referring to the costing that Queen’s Health Sciences is working toward for the Health Home; she does not say that the $500 cost would be paid by patients using the clinic.
“We’ve worked it out that it would cost about $500 per person per year, which sounds like a lot of money, but it’s totally affordable in the long run. And if you do that and that one person avoids an emergency department visit, you’ve probably already saved money… and if you get them out of the hospital one day earlier, you’ve already saved a year’s care costs for that person,” Philpott explains.
By providing a clinic where patients could come to have medical needs addressed outside of a hospital setting, the Health Home concept aims to address the problem of the approximately 20,000 people in the area currently lacking a family physician. While patients might not see a physician on each visit to the Health Home, they would be connected with health care professionals who have expertise relevant to their needs, such as registered practical nurses, dieticians, or physical therapists.
As Philpott explains in the video, “We need a model where actually everybody has access to care. So we’ve developed a model in Kingston [for which] we are eagerly awaiting final approval from the province… where we have a primary care team that will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week,… staffed by family doctors, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses, social workers, dietitians, [physical therapists] and [occupational therapists] etc., and… that will be your home.”
“On the particular day that you come, you might see a family doctor because that’s who you need to see. But if you don’t need to see a family doctor, maybe you’ll see a nurse, or maybe you’ll see the dietician or the social worker. You’ll be triaged according to your care needs,” Philpott continues, noting that she and her colleagues are working hard to secure the funding from the provincial government to make the Health Home a reality.
In response to Kingstonist inquiries on this matter, Queen’s University offered the following statement:
“There was an error in the Global News story that aired on Monday April 17 regarding plans for a potential Health Home in Kingston. Patients will not be charged to access care should a new Health Home be opened. Any further information about the potential Health Home will be available if and when it is confirmed.”
Queen’s further confirmed that the Health Home for Kingston is not being designed as a for-profit model.
Global Kingston issued an official correction and apology during its evening newscast on Tuesday, Apr. 18, 2023.