Physio clinic replaced, OHIP funding missing

Talbot Trail Physiotherapy is moving into the YMCA, taking over for the recently closed MobilityFit Physiotherapy — but not their OHIP-funded cases.

The Ministry of Health and Long Term care has yet to reallocate so-called “episodes of care” in St. Thomas, frozen with the closure of MobilityFit. The episodes of care, funded through OHIP, were only available at two locations in St. Thomas before the closure.

Only Closing the Gap, on Talbot Street, still offer funding through OHIP.

“I’m going to continue to advocate to maintain those services here in St. Thomas,” said Jeff Yurek, minister of provincial parliament in Elgin-Middlesex-London. “I’ll be speaking with the ministry and the LHIN to ensure MobilityFit is replaced with another physiotherapy service within city limits.”

OHIP covers youths under 19, seniors over 65, and patients recovering from injury, illness, or surgery — as long as they are not covered through other means, such as workplace insurance.

In 2014 the South West LHIN announced 26 locations would be allowed to provide OHIP-funded physiotherapy, each given a certain number of annual episodes of care. Talbot Trail Physiotherapy applied at the time but was not successful.

Chris Streib, president of the physiotherapy company, said he hopes the LHIN reconsiders them for OHIP-funded episodes of care. That’s one of the reasons he moved into MobilityFit’s old location, giving the region-wide company a sixth location.

“We’re hoping now that we’re in here that we get the OHIP funding back in,” Streib said. “I still haven’t heard anything about that.”

Funding is allocated by location. If Talbot Trail Physiotherapy is successful in their application it will only be for one location, likely the new location at the YMCA.

Talbot Trail Physiotherapy had other reasons for opening another office in the YMCA, Streib said. The location makes it easy for YMCA members to take advantage of the clinic, and gives Talbot Trail Physiotherapy access to the YMCA’s pool and recreational area.

The clinic expects to start taking clients in August.

But that does not address OHIP-funded episodes of care going unclaimed without MobilityFit Physiotherapy to offer them.

“Even people who’ve broken their ankle and need ankle rehab, they’re not going to drive to London just to get OHIP,” added Dayna Cartier, director with Talbot Trail Physiotherapy.

When contacted about the OHIP funding in April a representative with the South West LHIN could not confirm the episodes of care would remain in St. Thomas. The new provincial government could influence the eventual decision as well.

“I don’t support moving it outside the city,” Yurek said.

Talbot Trail Physiotherapy is not the only clinic keeping an eye on the LHIN’s decision. Dave Heaton, director of client services with Closing the Gap, said he has been in contact as well.

“There is a limited number of episodic care allocations,” Heaton said, adding the St. Thomas branch could take more cases. “We are certainty trying to manage the flow.”

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care did not reply to requests for comment.