February 1, 2011

Dear Northerners,

Having just returned from a week trekking on a horse high in the sunny mountains of Mexico where the Monarch butterflies spend the winter, I must admit as much as I love Northern Ontario…those butterflies have the right idea!!

We have had a busy first month of 2011 at the North East LHIN. Let me give you a few highlights--

  • During our January Board meeting in Sudbury, we re-allocated $1.3 million dollars thanks to our health service providers who, for varying reasons, indicated that they were not able to spend their full funding envelope by March 31. The money will go primarily towards community initiatives that help reduce emergency room wait times and help provide appropriate placement of alternate level of care patients. In addition, we were able to assist our small hospitals with more telemedicine services within our region.
  • Monique and KarenNE LHIN staff Monique Mechefske and Karen Pine Cheechoo gave a conference address to about 100 people from across Northeastern Ontario in an effort to help advance the health care status of Aboriginal, First Nation and Métis people in our region. 
  • We toured the wonderfully renovated Kirkwood Site just days before 31 mental health and addiction beds moved from North Bay to Sudbury. Congratulations to the caring and attentive staff of our Northeast Mental Health Centre who worked with the Sudbury staff to ensure the move was a success for patients and their families. 
  • Round Table DiscussionAlong with 40 other community members, we participated in a public Rural and Northern Health Care round table discussion in New Liskeard led by the Ministry but hosted by our Board Chair Peter Vaudry and Board member Danielle Bélanger-Corbin. The province is still seeking your input, and I strongly encourage you to weigh in.
  • We recognized Alzheimer month with two publications that focused on the people behind this debilitating disease who work hard to make a difference in the lives of others. Click here to read these LHINfo's.
  • Louise, Mark Hurst and Richard JolyAnd last but not least, our North Bay General Hospital and Northeast Mental Health Centre partners successfully moved patients into the new state-of-the-art Health Centre in one incredible location during the last weekend of January with seeming ease. Congratulations to Mark Hurst and his team!

These are just a few of the highlights of our work with partners over the past 25 days.  In between, I have had many discussions and meetings with our ALC community steering groups and community partners, long-term care homes, small rural hospitals, community support service agencies, mental health and addiction providers, and many others.

I know we all want what is right for our families and friends when they need to access the health care system. Here in Northeastern Ontario, as we struggle with our ALC challenge we need to get what I call “the right mix" of services, not  necessarily more of any one of them, but the right balance --  we need access to primary care so we can see a doctor on a regular basis to help us stay healthy… we need access to acute care when we need to go to the hospital… we need to leave the hospital and go back home with the right level of home care or go to an assess and restore or rehabilitation unit not as a destination, but as a place to grow stronger in order to be able to go home… we need supportive or assisted living facilities for people who aren’t quite able to take care of themselves and can no longer live at home, particularly alone, and require an environment of care that helps with more than activities of daily living… we need long term care beds for people, particularly the frail elderly who require 24 hour more complex care… we need respite beds so people who are caring for their loved ones at home can go on a holiday without worry and get a little rest and relaxation… and we need hospice beds for those who are on their end-of-life journey.

So, one thing is very clear -- we need to continue to work together to create a better balance of services for people, so that providers can provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

I look forward to touching base again in one-months’ time!