This year OPA once again exhibited at the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) conference: Health System Integration Built on The Foundation of Team-Based Primary Health Care, which took place September 19-20, 2019. This was the fifth year in a row that OPA exhibited at this particular conference. I had the pleasure of sharing the booth space with two of our amazing volunteers: Elena Mustata and Damion Finlayson who each took a day out of their busy schedules to attend and speak with over 800 primary care providers, interprofessional health care providers, patients and community partners about the value of PT in primary health care and the role we play in building stronger interprofessional teams.
Elena, Damion and myself enthusiastically handed out pens, info sheets, and delivered key messages to attendees from across the province. Many attendees took the time to speak with us as well and what we heard over and over again from this passionate primary care community was that they LOVE PT! Some boasted about the PT on their team and how through the addition of physiotherapy, they were able to deliver more programs and address more of their client’s primary care needs. Those who didn’t have a PT on their teams had applied (and had not yet been successful) for funding to add PT, while others were interested in applying but had questions about how best to position their application to be successful. It was an overwhelmingly energizing and humble experience to hear others speak to our value and what it has meant to the clients that they serve within their communities.
There were a number of PTs, including myself, who registered to attend the conference. PT colleagues Emily Watson and Anne Svetik-Jones from the Burlington Family Health Team led a concurrent session titled: Go Big Or Go Home! Launching A Novel, Large-Scale, Community Program Beyond The Roster. Other colleagues were involved in sessions related to health system changes and processes and a number of PTs were members of teams that were nominated for AFHTO Bright Lights Awards! Emily and Anne also led the PT networking session which resulted in some excellent resource and information sharing.
OPA continues to seek out opportunities to be in places where we can have conversations with our health care community and colleagues. Exhibiting at conferences provides us with a wonderful opportunity to learn about the changing health care landscape from those who are ‘in it’ all day, every day. As a PT, it re-energizes my passion for the profession and my role with OPA as I have the ability to apply my clinical and policy knowledge in conversations with others as I help address their questions. OPA’s presence and support of conferences such as this one is important as we work towards forming meaningful and impactful partnerships with other organizations and groups with whom we share a common purpose or focus around improving access to care for Ontarians.
See you at AFHTO next year!
By Amanda Smart, PT, Director, Practice, Policy & Member Services