December 30, 2014

Dear Northerners,

With one foot in the New Year, there’s a natural tendency to give a quick look back to the year one that is heading out the door.  And I’ve got to say, that in my 30 plus years of public service... I’ve never been so busy!  As a LHIN we’ve had an energizing year planning health care, funding innovative programs, and engaging with Northerners.

Our year started with a review of the “Act” that created the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Sounds daunting? Sure. But it was also humbling to sit in that room with the tri-party panel and listen to some 30 Northerners share how the LHIN has affected their lives and their ideas on how health care in the region can be strengthened.

People like Sudbury Architect Jeff Perry who credited our “ability to address homegrown solutions” to advance projects, including a senior’s affordable and assisted living residence in Walden. Or Janet Fathers, an RN with Noojmowin Teg Health Centre on Manitoulin Island who said: “I can honestly say the North East LHIN has listened and heard. They have paid attention in a way that has impacted our programs and care to make a difference where it really counts in the lives of our clients.”

This year, we’ve found new ways to listen to Northerners including hosting two patient engagement forums with the Change Foundation.  Held in both North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, the forums brought health service providers, clients and patients together to share their experiences with the health care system and to learn from one another about how to build a more patient-centred system of care.

People like Louis Bird, an elder from Peawanuck, who spoke about the need for health care professionals to learn about First Nations communities before treating people’s physical ailments. A sentiment also echoed by Barbara Nolan, a client of the Baawaating Family Health Team in the Algoma, who said: “A person is so much more than a disease or a health care issue. It’s someone with cultural needs and beliefs.”

Fernande LeClair, of Sault Ste. Marie, spoke about the need for bilingual health care services and the misunderstandings that can arise: “The next time you have ‘mal au coeur,’ don’t tell the physician you have a sore heart because you may end up with oxygen and hooked up to a heart monitor instead of getting a garbage can to relieve your upset stomach!”

On the planning front, there are five key documents that came out of our LHIN this year:

  • A Clinical Services Review, realigning services at our 25 hospitals so that care provided to Northerners is more standardized across the region
  • A Vision Care Plan for the North East Region so that we can ensure best practices are shared and implemented for eye care.
  • A plan to improve non-urgent transportation of patients between hospitals and home, when fully implemented will reduce wait times by more than 60%.
  • A publication chronicling the history and transformation of our 20 Community Hospitals that looks to future opportunities for these institutions to better meet the needs of their residents.
  • A Capacity Analysis of the North East CCAC recommending 16 ways to ensure this key provider of home and community care can continue to meet the increasing needs of Northerners as we age. Implementation is well underway.

And two of our innovative LHIN-funded programs made the Minister’s Medal Honour Roll!

  • The Priority Assistance to Transition Home (PATH) program, which helps frail seniors transition home safely avoiding unnecessary trips back to hospital. It’s delivered by the Canadian Red Cross in Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Espanola, as well as by The Friends in Parry Sound. Already PATH has helped more than 1260 seniors home safely, with the medications and groceries they need to recover, as well as linked in to support services in the community.
  • North East Specialized Geriatric Service’s Clinic to help elders in Fort Albany. Working with partners including Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and Peetabek Health Services, it developed a culturally appropriate screening tool and assessed 33 seniors, creating individualized care plans for each of them with plans to return this coming year.

When I think back on the past year, the words of Charles Ketter, a retired Sudbury teacher and lung cancer patient, come to mind. At one of our patient engagement forums, he said: “Have I seen change? Yes. Have I seen enough change? No. Are we headed in the right direction? Yes.”

Wishing you a wonderful remainder of the holiday season and a wonderful new year.

Louise

 

Close to 200 Northerners attended two patient engagement
forums held earlier this year.

 
Charles Ketter, a retired Sudbury teacher
and lung cancer patient. At one of our patient
engagement forums, he said: “Have I seen change?
Yes. Have I seen enough change? No. Are we
headed in the right direction? Yes.”