July 13, 2012

Dear fellow Northerners,

Over the next three years health care as we know it today will change. The impact of this change will be felt by health service providers who need to realign their services to better meet the need of an aging population in an environment of fiscal restraint. These changes will require that health care organizations develop a strategic plan to help them move forward.

Right now here at the North East LHIN, we’re working on a plan to map out our priorities, milestones, and goals for the next three years.

IHSP SurveyThis plan is being shaped by the voices of Northerners. So far we’ve talked to thousands of people at community engagements held across the region. We’ve also circulated a survey which hundreds have filled out. We’re hoping to hear from even more Northerners. If you haven’t done so, please take the time to go through our five minute survey by clicking here!

A plan is only as good as those who contribute … So please make your voices heard!

In crafting this plan we’ll be using our community engagements – which are ongoing and will be carrying on over the summer and fall -- data analysis, and, of course, research. We are working with partners – such as the French Language Planning Entity and the Local Aboriginal Health Council – to develop a plan that is aligned with who we are and what we need in a strong local health care system right here in Northereastern Ontario.

Our demographics are a big factor in this plan. I don’t need to tell you that we have an aging population – about 18% of us are older than 65. We also have a large cohort of people 45 to 65 years of age.

I heard Dr. Ken Le Clair, a psychiatrist who specializes in geriatric mental health, speak recently. He asked those in the audience who they thought used the most health care: A 45 year old, 65 year old or 85 year old? After various answers were shouted out, he said, all three groups use about the same amount of health care. By 45 years of age, most of us have one chronic disease, and about 40% of us have two.

Whether you have asthma, heart problems, diabetes, or dementia – or all these factors combined—you still need to follow a good diet and can benefit from exercise. Dr. Le Clair talked about the need to move away from “body-part” based medicine – geared to the lung or heart or head—to one that looked at the whole person.

Person centred care.

We also need to get away from medicine that is solely reactive to one that includes prevention. 

We need to plan to age well by taking the steps we can control such as diet and exercise. We also need to plan our health care system so it responds to the needs of an aging population, which means a system that includes enhancing care transitions between hospitals, outpatient primary care, and community or home care.  Help us enhance the patient experience and plan for the future – we’re just a click away!

And take time to enjoy our Northern summer! The fishing has been great!!