About Group Health Centre
Group Health Centre was founded in 1963 as one of the first union-sponsored community health centres in Canada. Founded by thousands of Sault Ste. Marie steelworkers, Group Health Centre promised its members primary and preventative care with no out-of-pocket cost at a time before provincial health insurance existed.
Since opening the doors over 50 years ago, the Centre has been a leader in medical innovation and the site of countless pilot projects and studies on a provincial, national, and international level. Some of the most notable successes include being the site for a World Health Organization study on preventative care in the 60s, being one of the first sites in Canada to employ “non-traditional nurses” (now known as Nurse Practitioners) in the 70s, and being one of the first sites in Canada to move to electronic medical records in the 90s.
Group Health Centre has won National Best Practice Awards, was featured in Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s top ten models of healthcare, and was once referred to as “Canada’s best kept health care secret” by Commissioner for the Future of Health Care in Canada, Roy Romanow.
To be the leading community health centre by providing accessible, quality healthcare to patients through primary and specialty physicians and allied health professionals.
To provide innovative, exemplary, patient-focused, community healthcare services, delivered by a dedicated multidisciplinary team, in support of the vision of the Group Health Centre.
- Kindness: be generous
- Respect: Show regard and consideration to all
- Compassion: Demonstrate you care
- Accountability: Take responsibility – always
- To pursue best practice
- To strengthen operational performance
- To enhance physician services through high quality support
- To be the organization of choice for physicians and employees
- To grow strategically
GHC by the numbers
GHC is home to:
- 80 primary and specialty care physicians
- 11 nurse practitioners
- Over 100 nurses
- 33 allied health professionals
- More than a dozen clinical programs
- 70,000 rostered patients
- The largest community based Diagnostic Imaging facility in Sault Ste. Marie
- We perform over 41,000 procedures each year - including ultrasound, x-ray, mammography and bone mineral densiometry.
- The largest Physiotherapy department in Sault Ste. Marie
- Includes 5 physiotherapists and 2 physiotherapy assistants
GHC serves over 80,000 patients in our community with a combined total of over 300,000 visits across our 8 sites in Sault Ste. Marie.
GHC Board of Directors
Dr. David Fera, Chair (2020-Present)
Dr. David Fera (2013– 2020)
Dr. David Fera is a family medicine physician at the Group Health Centre. Additionally, he is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Dr. Celia Ross, Vice Chair (2020-Present)
Dr. Celia Ross (2014 – 2020)
Celia Ross is the former president of Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Dr. Ross received her doctorate degree in French literature from the Université de Bordeaux III.
Dr. Brian Mitchell, Director (2020-Present)
Dr. Brian Mitchell, Vice Chair (2017-2020)
Dr. Brian Mitchell, Chair (2013– 2017)
Dr. Brian Mitchell is an Ophthalmologist at the Group Health Centre. He is also a member of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Alex Lambert, President and Chief Executive Officer (2012 – Present)
Alex Lambert is the CEO of the Group Health Centre. His career spans the public and private sectors across several different industries. He has a MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Bob Paciocco (2014 – Present)
Mr. Bob Paciocco graduated from the University of Windsor Law School in 1973. He was called to the Bar in 1975 and has since been practicing corporate/commercial in Sault Ste. Marie.
Susan Vanagas-Cote (2021-Present)
Susan Vanagas-Cote is a recently retired health care professional and administrator, beginning her career as a Speech-Language Pathologist and then serving as Executive Director for THRIVE Child Development Centre for 19 years.
Dr. Jodie Stewart (2019 – Present)
Dr. Jodie Stewart is a family medicine physician at the Group Health Centre. Additionally, she is the Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Dr. Kirk Zufelt (2013 – Present)
Dr. Kirk Zufelt is a pediatric physician at the Group Health Centre. He attended medical school at McMaster University. Dr. Zufelt received his pediatric training at Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London and subsequent pediatric cardiology training at Sick Kids. He is also a member of the Algoma District Medical Group.
Aaron Evans (2020 – Present)
Aaron Evans is a Chartered Professional Accountant working at Algoma Steel as a Controller and General Manager of Information Technology. Mr. Evans also teaches some courses at Algoma University and has been the Treasurer of the Sault Ste. Marie United Way for many years. Mr. Evans has over 20 years of experience in various Accounting and IT roles, including significant leadership accountabilities in his current position at Algoma Steel.
Bill Thornton (2020 – Present)
Bill Thornton retired from the Ontario Public Service in May 2019 as Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and for the Northern Development and Mines portfolio of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, representing the Ontario government in numerous business restructuring and insolvency proceedings and providing oversight of several northern economic initiatives. Mr. Thornton has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters of Business Administration from Dalhousie University.