Collaboration aims to reduce the impact of poverty

Thanks to a 3-year, $233,742 grant from United Way Simcoe Muskoka, the South
Georgian Bay Ontario Health Team (SGB OHT) is beginning the work on a collaborative project to expand the community’s ability to more easily connect people who are struggling to meet their basic needs, to the services and supports they need.

“In the first year of the project, we are working on developing a shared technology platform to allow physicians, health care providers and also community service organizations to make electronic referrals to 2-1-1 for people who are impacted by the social determinants of health,” says Pamela Hillier, Executive Director of Community Connection. “Like a physician prescribing medicine, this is social prescribing, a structured way of referring people to the broad range of local, non-clinical services such as
food resources, transportation services, income supports or even social activities for those who are alone. With their basic needs supported, people can be more focused on their health and wellbeing. We are so thankful to donors in our communities who support the United Way Simcoe Muskoka, for making this work possible.”

Digitally enabled Ontario Health Teams also create opportunities to establish more efficient channels for delivering services. “United Way’s community investment will enable 211 Community Connection to be connected to the Ontario Health Team’s eReferral technology,” says Dr. James Lane, Digital Health Lead for SGB OHT and the Chief Medical Information Officer at the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital. “This eliminates traditional faxed referrals, and automatically updates the patient’s medical chart so the patient and
their care team, including their primary care provider, can be continuously updated as to the status of the referral.”


In year two and three of the project, the collaborative plans to develop a community assistance network to respond to urgent needs of individuals with the aim of moving people out of crisis to stability, and when possible, self-sustainability.

“Access to resources is one of the biggest hurdles that keeps people living in poverty,” says Dale Biddell, Chief Executive and Philanthropy Officer of United Way Simcoe Muskoka. “This new project will help fill the gap that exists between health care and community services to better address all of the unique needs of our most vulnerable residents. By creating a digital platform to facilitate care for mental, physical and social health, this program will not only lower this barrier for South Georgian Bay residents but can serve as a model for communities throughout Simcoe Muskoka and beyond.”