May 21, 2024

Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton health-care agencies have received nearly $537,000 in provincial funding to help connect young children to primary care.

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Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton health-care agencies have received nearly $537,000 in provincial funding to help connect young children to primary care.

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Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres and North Lambton Community Health Centre made the announcement in a release Friday.

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The Health Ministry is providing the annual funding to support a new program, First Five, which is geared to children five and under.

It will increase access to preventive and health promotion care and services for young children without OHIP cards or a family doctor in both areas.

The announcement follows the Ontario Health West Provincial Pediatric Strategy, which seeks to invest in pediatric care for communities and geographic areas outside major urban centres.

“We know that there are hundreds of children under five . . . in Lambton and Chatham-Kent who do not have a primary-care provider,” said Sherri Saunders, Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres executive director. “Establishing this new program is vital for the health and well-being for our growing communities.

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“Providing access to health-care services for children at risk or in rural areas will address the social determinants of health, and in the long run, can change the trajectory of a child’s health later in life for the better.”

The First Five program is expected to increase immunization access, healthy child development and prevention of early chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes. It also will help keep keep lessen emergency department use for preventive care.

First Five program at Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres
Facilitating the First Five program at Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres are nurse practitioners Lisa Babcock, left, and Kathy-Lynn Stennett, registered practical nurse Sarah Galos, health promoter Allison Vitek and Heather Carnahan, director of clinical and client services. (Supplied)

“Ensuring that our youngest and most vulnerable population in Lambton County and Chatham-Kent have access to quality care in their formative years is vital to a child’s development and long-term health outcomes, and this funding will help us to deliver that care,” saidKathy Bresett, the North Lambton centre’s executive director.

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“This new program will most notably benefit those young children living in rural areas or from low socio-economic backgrounds, who often do not have equitable access to health-care services.”

First Five teams at each site, consisting of a nurse practitioner and registered practical nurse, will provide services such as well-baby/well-child checks, immunizations, developmental screening for physical and mental health milestones, assistance in navigating the health-care system, nutrition support, episodic care for children experiencing acute illness and referrals to other community services.

For more information, or for a referral to Chatham-Kent’s First Five program, email

[email protected]

, or call 519-397-5455, Ext. 1.

For Sarnia Lambton’s program, visit North Lambton Community Health Centre at nlchc.com, email

[email protected]

, or call 519-344-3017 and ask for the First Five nurse.

[email protected]

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