In its third year, OPA’s annual Primary Health Care (PHC) Connect event continues to cultivate development of this evolving public physiotherapy access point. On October 19, approximately 30 physiotherapists working in primary health care gathered at the Hamilton Family Health Team (FHT) facility. Having attended all three gatherings to date, I continue to be enthused by the opportunity for practice specific networking, idea sharing with colleagues, and a little professional development.

Sally Bean, Director of Health Ethics and Policy at Sunnybrook Health Sciences started us off on a high note with a relevant primer on cannabis legislation, offering helpful policy templates along with discussions ranging from evidence to issues in practice. Dianne Vandepas, a PT from St. Joseph’s Healthcare – West 5th site in Hamilton took us on an exploration into the role of physiotherapy in mental health. OPA board liaison to the Primary Care Advisory Committee (PCAC), Jasdeep Dhir presented an overview and sought feedback on Ignitephysio’s platform, and more specifically, the PHC Community of Practice (CoP).

Currently there are 90+ physiotherapists working in the PHC environment throughout the province. With over 180 FHTs in Ontario, access to PT continues to require a commitment to advocacy. Pertinent and necessary discussions on technology in practice, partnership building and evaluation were facilitated throughout the afternoon in breakout session style. I’m grateful for the rich discussions facilitated by PTs Amy Hondronicols from the Hamilton FHT; Emily Stevenson, PT lead with Toronto Central Community Health Centres, and; Sarah Wojkowski, Director of Clinical Education with McMaster’s Msc.PT program.

The highlights for me from PHC Connect have been the consistent passionate discussion together with the countless examples of individual leadership. Insights from colleagues are openly offered from programming conversations to cross-sector integration ideas. It’s clear that these PTs are having a meaningful impact in their communities, many of whom are emerging as trailblazers in the revitalized public domain. If anything is to be learned from the last two decades it’s that we must clearly demonstrate who we are and what we bring to the table. We need to evaluate. We need to advocate. We need to strategize in order to continue the development of our identity and our value in a larger health care system. But we also need to reflect and celebrate.

Having graduated from McMaster at the dawn of delisting, being part of this evolution for the profession is significant. The variety of ways ‘Physio can help’ is profound. As a physiotherapist, I’ve always felt I could offer the moon and this event serves to not only inform and connect clinicians but also serves as an opportunity to contribute as an agent of change in pursuit of a better aligned and integrated physiotherapy landscape. If you missed it, put it on your calendar for next year. In the meantime, come join the PHC conversation on Ignitephysio. I look forward to continuing the discussion with more colleagues at OPA’s conference, InterACTION taking place April 5-6, 2019 in Toronto.

By Derek Debassige PT