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What is a Health Co-operative
A Health care co-operative is a group of people who have formally incorporated as a co-operative to meet their mutual needs. The members own the co-op. Health care co-ops in Canada are celebrating 50 years of service to their communities. More than 70 health co-ops across Canada provide services ranging from home care to support for people with developmental delays to integrative primary health care centres and employment services for people facing multiple barriers. Each co-op responds uniquely and cost-effectively to the needs of its member-owners. Internationally health co-ops cover everything from primary health care in Japan to large hospitals, addiction recovery, ambulance services and hospices in countries as diverse as Italy, Brazil, and the USA.
Health Care Co-operatives have an important role to play in providing the affordable, accessible, appropriate care mandated by the Canada Health Act. We can contribute to ensuring timely access to primary care, identifying and dealing with problems at the earliest stages, continuity in practitioner-patient relationship, maximizing efficiency and minimizing patient suffering. We can shift the emphasis from “medical” intervention by professionals to “health and wellness” of that each of us acts to achieve optimum wellness for our own long-term health, surely a priority when we recognize that we need to stay healthy for several decades longer than our parents and grand-parents.
With dedicated Boards and strong local support, health co-ops provide community leadership in achieving the basics of good primary health care. Because we focus on community benefits rather than personal profit we also offer an ideal environment for internationally trained health practitioners to integrate into our system, a great way to address the anomaly of well trained doctors and nurses being unable to serve their communities.
In Canada the Health Care Co-op sector is co-ordinated nationally through the Health Care Co-operatives Federation of Canada.