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A family affair

Queen’s Family Health Team a leader in patient care for the past 10 years.

For the past 10 years, the Department of Family Medicine’s Queen’s Family Health Team (QFHT) has taken a leadership role in providing health care in a timely and efficient manner to its patients. The team offers a collaboration of physicians, resident physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, a dietitian, a pharmacist, various clerks and other forms of administrative support – all working together to provide patient-centred care.

By offering such a wide range of health services, department head Glenn Brown says they are giving their patients the best care possible.

Enjoying the 10th anniversary celebrations are (l to r): Glenn Brown, Head, Department of Family Medicine; Ruth Wilson; Diane Cross, QFHT Clinic Manager; Walter Rosser; and Karen Hall Barber, QFHT physician lead.

“I truly believe in this model,” says Dr. Brown, who will soon be stepping down as department head after two five-year terms. “Queen’s University has taken a leadership role in developing the family health team model and our patients are benefitting. Our patients want a relationship with the members of our team and we are providing that.”

The department got its start in 1965. At the time, it was located in a five-room family care unit based at Kingston General Hospital. It was in 1971 that the department became an academic unit at Queen’s. In 1975, the Family Medicine Centre, on Hotel Dieu Hospital property at 220 Bagot Street, opened with a number of health professionals from various specialties, representing an approach to family medicine that would later be known as a family health team.

“We have moved far beyond the days when doctors worked in silos; they now work in professional groups,” says Dr. Brown, who uses care of diabetic patients as an example.

“Our nurse practitioners, dietitian and pharmacist work, with the physicians, nurses and other staff, to provide a collaborative approach to the care of our diabetic patient population. All members of our team are able to utilize our electronic medical records system, which ensures there is good communication among everyone involved and no duplication.”

To ensure patients are getting full support, the QFHT is always expanding and improving its services. “We have a number of different baby programs, weight-management and healthy-eating programs, and pain-management clinics, just to name a few,” says Karen Hall Barber, QFHT lead physician. “These programs allow us to focus on prevention and identify issues before they get bigger.”

With all of the positive, there is some negative.

“The government has lost some faith that the model is working, but politicians are also aware data is limited in regards to patient satisfaction. All the studies available are showing family health teams are working,” says Dr. Hall Barber. “Part of the issue is the inequality of services available from family health teams. They aren’t all the same and that can lead to dissatisfaction.”

Dr. Brown agrees and says the Queen’s model can lead others to success.

“We need to make sure all citizens have access to the services because part of the issue is the equality of services. We are trying to help by expanding our own services to show this model can work. And it does work.”