April 18, 2013

Dear Fellow Northerners,

Moving forward often involves thinking about what you’re leaving behind. This is true of changing jobs, homes, relationships, and yes, even health care systems. 

With April showers bringing seasonal change, this is an ideal time to reflect on the health care transformation that’s happening right here in Northeastern Ontario.

Louise_April 2013 BlogDepending on where we live, we see how change is needed in different ways.  Here in Northeastern Ontario, our demographics tell us that a change in health care delivery is needed.  Whether we live in communities from Parry Sound to Peawanuck, Sault Ste. Marie to Sturgeon Falls, Timmins to Temiskaming Shores, or anywhere in between, we see why change is needed. Our communities have growing numbers of seniors (we’re a decade ahead of the province in this regard), high rates of people suffering from chronic illness, fiscal constraints, a shortage of health care professionals, and collective voices who say “status quo” is no longer acceptable.  

Most importantly to the North East LHIN, change is needed to respond to what Northerners say they need and want from their health care system – the ability to access quality care when they need it. Resoundingly in our community engagements, Northerners have told us they want enhanced service, an easier to navigate health care system, and less duplication of services between providers.

Through accountability agreements with their LHIN, health service providers are legislatively required to actively seek integration opportunities.  According to the Local Health System Integration Act (LHSIA, 2006), the legislation that created LHINS, “integrate” can mean:

  • Co-ordinating services and interactions between different organizations
  • Partnering with another organization in providing services or in operating
  • Transferring, merging or amalgamating services, operations, organizations
  • Starting or stopping services
  • Stopping the operations of an organization.

Since 2006, the NE LHIN has facilitated close to 25 integrations, including three last month.  As per our recently released Integrated Health Service Plan (IHSP) – our three-year strategic plan – realignment of health service providers and services is an important enabler to help move the priorities of our strategic plan forward. 

Examples of integrations benefiting Northerners include both large and small scale changes.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Hôpital de Mattawa Hospital and Algonquin Nursing Home. The long-term care beds have been sold to the new corporation “La Maison des Ainés de Mattawa Seniors Living” The CEO is now filling the role of administrator of the new nursing home and the hospital -- creating a more efficient process and realizing savings that can be passed on to residents.
  • Timiskaming Palliative Care Network and the Kirkland and District Hospital. This integration will increase services and the continuum of care for people who find themselves in need of quality end-of-life care.
  • Algoma Anchor Agency This integration is Ontario’s first-ever integrated model of care for addiction and mental health services. When completed, it will deliver over 100 services from 13 previous providers to make access to addiction and mental health services easier for people and families in Algoma.
  • North Bay Regional Health Centre.  Opened in 2011, the Centre is the first of its kind in Canada to co-locate an acute care hospital with a specialized mental health centre.

As we approach our health care work this new fiscal year, it is essential for every health care provider to consider how to help fellow Northerners get the quality care they need more quickly, more easily and closer to home. Coordination of care is imperative.

In closing, I applaud the vision of those health service providers and community leaders who have already achieved success and I encourage those who are exploring models to improve care for fellow Northerners – we’re happy to assist.