There's been many changes at the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre now that its base funding has been increased from $1.8 million a year to $2.4 million a year.
Because the new funding includes designated money for physician compensation, the health centre has been able to hire two new doctors — pediatrician Dr. Catherine Pluta and Dr. Taylor Riutta.
The new funding also includes designated money for a new nurse practitioner, so the health centre has been able to hire nurse practitioner Melanie Lazarus.
They're also moving to an electronic medical record system so they're able to better communicate with the province's other Aboriginal health access centres and community health centres.
Shkagamik-Kwe provides health care to Aboriginal, Métis and Inuit people in Greater Sudbury, as well as to people and families from the partner First Nations of Wahnipitae, Henvey Inlet and Magnetewan.
The centre provides a mix of traditional Aboriginal healing and contemporary primary health care to clients.
Angela Recollet, executive director of Shkagamik-Kwe, said Aboriginal health centres used to be under the umbrella of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Two years ago, they moved under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“Often times we didn't get the same increases across the board that our colleague partners in community health centres, family health teams, and nurse practitioner-led clinics,” Recollet said.
Aboriginal health access centres, including Shkagamik-Kwe, have been working with the ministry to “resolve some of these gaps,” and the additional funding has now been put in place, she said.
Sudbury MPP and Minister of Northern Development and Mines Rick Bartolucci announced the base funding increase at an Oct. 23 press conference.
“I'm very, very pleased to announce today that the McGuinty government will be investing $2.4 million,” he said, adding that the funding is needed because the urban Aboriginal population is on the increase.
“This increased funding will help to ensure that the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre has the resources to continue delivering the programs and services that meet the needs of the community,” Bartolucci said, in a press release.
Hans Matthews, chair of the health centre's board of directors, thanked the province “for helping us and giving us the shot in the arm” on behalf of the people it services.
The next step for Shkagamik-Kwe is to build a bigger home, Recollet said.
“We outgrew the facility before we even built it,” she said. “Now, with the expansion in our base funding, and an increase in human resources, we have really outgrown our centre.”
Recollet said the health centre is putting together a business case for a new building, and will be launching a capital campaign in the future. She said she hopes to attract donations from corporate partners.
The Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre is located at 161 Applegrove St.
For more information, phone 705-675-1596 or visit www.skhc.ca.