December 1, 2011

Dear Northerners,

Well, it’s hard to believe that 2010 is in its final days and a new year is peaking around the corner. My transition to health care, just 9 short months ago, made for a busy 2010 -- full of travel, meeting new people, a learning curve that I hope will never end, and Hearst Rotary Cluba renewed appreciation for the people who work tirelessly to make large and small changes to build a stronger and more integrated health care system for the people of Northeastern Ontario.

This year, the NE LHIN placed a significant emphasis on community engagement – engagement of all shapes and sizes. We met regularly with our regional HUBS group (the four large urban hospitals, NE CCAC and Northeast Mental Health Centre), our 22 small rural hospitals, ALC community steering groups, regional advisory panel on addictions and mental health, French language health services, local Aboriginal health committee -- just to name a few! These engagements are pivotal to helping the LHIN better understand health care issues at the local level. 

Our engagements also go far beyond the walls of health care. This summer, we took our LHIN 101 show on the road and engaged with people from Haileybury Cochrane District Detox Centreto Blind River to Smooth Rock Falls – with many stops in between.  As a Rotarian, many of our “gigs” were with rotary clubs across the region – others were opportunities such as the Northern Health Crown Conference in Sault Ste. Marie or the Electronic Medical Conference in Sudbury. Regardless of the venue, discussions always focused on the slices of the health care pie that were applicable to each community and how we can work together as a system to meet the changing demographic needs. With the age of our communities increasing, our population declining, and our rates of chronic disease on the rise – these are important discussions to have at a time when the public health care purse is strained.

This past month, two “events” of note took place. Our Board supported the creation of an Anchor Agency, over the next several years to integrate 129 addiction and mental health programs and services currently being provided by 18 providers in Algoma. The decision came following many community, consumer and health care provider engagements. It is expected that the agency will better serve and provide easier access to addiction and mental health services for consumers and their families within Algoma.ALC Media

And last week, the NE LHIN and our health care partners in Sudbury spoke to the community about initiatives underway to help ease ALC pressures at the hospital, to decrease the demand on long-term care, and to build up the capacity of the community to meet the needs of seniors and the frail elderly. The NE LHIN, along with our partners, remains vigilant in working to resolve the ALC pressures facing many of our communities.
In the 1947 movie classic, “Miracle on 34th Street”, a single mother steels herself and her daughter against the false hope of Christmas – and life – by refusing to believe in Santa. But, as we all know, by movie’s end, both mother and daughter have tossed off their cynicism and have learned to believe. “Faith,” she says, “is believing in Englehart Rotary Clubthings when common sense tells you not to.”

This holiday’s season is a time for celebration and for introspection. It is a time to pause and remember who we are, how much we have achieved, and how high we can fly. And it is a time to remind ourselves of the many obstacles we have already overcome – obstacles that common sense may have told us were insurmountable.

We who have chosen to live and work in Northern Ontario still face many daunting challenges. But as long as we continue to share  common concerns, support one another and celebrate our successes, these challenges will be overcome.

During this holiday season as we gather with family and friends and as we wish for more peace on earth and good will to all, it’s important to remember the strengths of our past and dream of our hopes for the future. It is my pleasure to wish you, the people of Northeastern Ontario, all the best for the holidays and throughout the coming year.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season…..


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