February 8, 2013

Dear Northerners,

Dorothy Thomson is an active 74-year-old who volunteers with a bunch of organizations including the Elgin Street Mission in Sudbury. But last year, she got new bifocals and, not being used to them, fell down and broke her arm.

Suddenly the woman who always helped others, now needed help herself.

Dorothy ThompsonHaving worked 35 years in public health, Dorothy knew there were many services available for seniors in the community but she quickly learned that it wasn’t that easy to get connected with them.  Eventually she did get the help she needed with personal care, homemaking, physiotherapy, and Meals on Wheels but it took a lot of phone calls. In fact, her friends called daily for the latest update: “Who’d you talk to today Dorothy?”

Dorothy, with a mix of humour and forthrightness, told her story at a regional meeting of the NE LHIN’s Community Support Services providers last week. These organizations deliver a range of services from assisted living to transportation and assisted devices to help with hearing or sight loss to help people live at home independently. They had gathered in Sudbury to begin the process of creating a single point of access in each area so that seniors like Dorothy won’t have to make so many calls and keep telling their stories over and over again.

And as the week wore on, providers kept Dorothy in mind while mapping out an easier way for seniors and their families to get the care they need and more easily “navigate” the system. It’s not easy to change any process especially in health care, but with Dorothy at the forefront, everyone at the table agreed there’s got to be a better way.

This week we released our Integrated Health Service Plan (IHSP) – a regional health care plan for the next three years. Meeting the needs of our aging population is front and center. There’s no doubt about it, Northerners like Dorothy will be well served as we work to Enhance Care Coordination and Transitions to Improve the Patient Experience – one of our four priorities. 

You can read about our plan and four priorities by clicking here. 

I want to thank Dorothy and 3,999 other Northerners who stood up and took the time to tell us about their experience, who shared their stories and who gave us advice and suggestions about how to improve the delivery of health care in the North East. This is our plan – a Northern plan developed by Northerners for Northerners.

I urge you to continue to be part of the change and I assure you -- We’re listening Dorothy.