August 8 2013

Dear Fellow Northerners,

I spend a lot of time listening as the CEO of the North East LHIN -- hearing about people’s first hand experiences with health care and their ideas on how it can be made even better.

Take Rina Clark whose husband David has Alzheimer’s. Earlier this year, she sent me an email about the VON’s Adult Day program in the Sault where David can get the social interaction he needs and she, and others like her, receive some well-needed respite. She told me this service was available three days a week and made such a difference in both their lives.

At the end of June, I met with Rina and other Algoma residents at an announcement for new services for seniors, including more days and longer hours for the Adult Day program. 
Rina and David Clark in SSM.
It was great to meet and thank Rina and David in person (right).  There are many Northerners like the Clarks who are helping to guide our LHIN work to care in community. Those Northern voices and ideas shaped our 2013-2016 strategic plan. 

In my blog last summer, I asked you to help us build that plan.  And I was so impressed with how many of you responded.  In fact, some 4,000 Northerners told us what was missing, what they valued, and how they want health care partners to get better at working together!  This past February, we shared the final plan and its four priorities.

Six months has now passed, and I am pleased to share our first progress report with you – just like the good old days when I would run home from school eager to share my report card.  Our interim report card provides you with updates on our actions that are helping us meet our plan’s four priority goals:

    • increase access to primary care
    • improve transitions of care, particularly for our frail elderly as they move from hospital back to community or home
    • make mental health and addiction services more accessible
    • ensure special population groups such as Francophones and First Nations are receiving linguistic and culturally appropriate care. 

While there is still a lot of work to do, I think that once you read the report, you will agree that we are on the right track.
And just because we have a plan, doesn’t mean we’ve stopped listening.
Connie Walter (left) and Joan Smith in Parry Sound.
A few weeks ago several of my staff met with 60 seniors in Parry Sound at a Lunch and Learn. They talked about some of their challenges they have accessing care, and about some of the things that are working well.  Connie Walter (left, with Joan Smith), for instance, talked about the amazing care she receives from the staff at Belvedere Heights’ Community Support Services -- “the angel in the wings” as she calls them.  

And finally I met with the Mine Mill 598 CAW union leadership (right) to talk about the challenges facing Personal Support Mine Mill 598 CAW unionWorkers (PSWs) in Sudbury’s long term care homes. What became very clear during our conversation is the care and devotion these PSWs feel towards their clients. I promised them that if additional funding becomes available for long term care that we would invite them back to our LHIN decision making table to ensure their ideas for improving client care are heard. 

As CEO, I have the privilege of working with many excellent health care providers (146 to be exact!) but I also appreciate hearing from the front line workers and the people who are on the receiving end of the services being provided.

 As a Northerner, I want a system that puts me and my family at the centre of health care decisions. Thanks to Connie and her neighbour, Joan Smith, and David and Rina Clarke, and so many other fellow Northerners – together, we are making those changes for the better. 

Enjoy the rest of our wonderful summer….