Marie moved to the Collingwood region, leaving behind the city of Toronto and a VP position in the private sector to seek a “quieter life” in our small town. Shortly after, she began her career in health care by establishing the Georgian Bay Family Health Team (GBFHT) as its Executive Director in 2007. As one of the few who embarked on this new primary health care model, she’s one of even fewer that continue in the ED role. Her tenacious commitment to our community health care services has led to numerous successes, including attracting additional physicians to our region. This number has almost doubled since GBFHT’s inception, thereby ensuring continuity of quality primary care to the majority of our region’s residents.
Collaboration is an integral element to ensuring cost effective and quality health care, and Marie has worked diligently to promote integrated programming in our region. Collaborating with CGMH, YMCA NSM and the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre, to deliver pulmonary and cardiovascular rehabilitation programs, among others.
Access to health care is a key priority at every level and recognizing the barriers to travel to many specialist services outside of our region, Marie was determined to increase access to specialist care using the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). The program is nurse led, and proactively seeks out and establishes connections with specialists around the province. Such was the success of the GBFHT model of care, that OTN subsequently made funds available to other organizations in the region, to emulate this model.
The Collingwood region has been chronically under-serviced in the realm of mental health and Marie has focused resources on establishing a comprehensive program that has grown to 11 counsellors providing services to children, youth and adults in our community. This has made a significant impact in reducing visits to GP offices, enabling them to increase roster sizes and reducing the number of unattached patients in our region. Her ongoing effort are focussed on establishing relationships and referral pathways between the numerous mental health agencies providing care in our community.
Not content with limiting her focus to the GBFHT alone, Marie sought to impact the wider community through her involvement in establishing the “Home for Life” volunteer program, which assists seniors to remain independent at home. The success of this program undoubtedly led to the selection of the South Georgian Bay as an early adopter of Health Links. With Marie at the helm of the executive team, this philosophy of care has become embedded in the way that we deliver services to the most needy and complex patients in our community, reducing impact on physician’s offices, the emergency room and reducing hospital admissions. Furthermore, building on the existing relations that Marie has worked so hard to establish, this executive panel has now become the South Georgian Bay Sub Region planning table.
Marie’s search for the “quiet life” continues to evade her as her goal to improve on the quality and cost effectiveness of health care in our region has her constantly on the lookout for areas in which her inimitable “get it done” approach, can make a positive impact.