Louise’s October Blog – Transitions

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Dear Fellow Northerners,

Fall’s onset, with its tell-tale signs, remind us that we are in that short yet wonderful transition time between seasons.   Here in the North, our senses are re-awakened to natural wonders with the colourful leaves, the smell of wood smoke as we fire up our wood stoves, and each morning’s chilly nip.

Transition and change is part of the natural rhythm of the seasons … and also part of our work at the North East LHIN.  As the region’s health care manager, we work with partners to transition our health care system from one that is focused on the needs of providers to the needs of Northerners - our family members, friends, neighbours, and even ourselves.

As a LHIN, your LHIN, we continue to place our energies into building a stronger health care system for Northerners – one that is there for us at each touch-point of our journey along the continuum of care -- from birth to death.  The exciting part is, that we are fortunate to have many natural born leaders in our midst who are helping to make it all happen.  Let me introduce you to a few of them …

 Dr. Derek Manchuk

Dr. Derek Manchuk -- As our LHIN Critical Care Lead, Dr. Manchuk has been leading a team effort that just received a much coveted provincial award – the Minister’s Medal - for work in advancing access to care for critically ill patients in our Northeastern Ontario communities. The Virtual Critical Care (VCC) unit is the first of its kind in Canada and uses technology to link a team of intensive care physicians, specially trained nurses and ICU respiratory therapists to critically ill patients. It is based out of Health Sciences North and was launched in May 2014 with four hospitals participating. One year later, 23 of our region’s 25 hospitals had joined on. To date, the VCC has been used for 214 patients with an additional 347 follow-up visits totalling over 19,000 VCC care minutes.  And, 76 patients have avoided a medical transfer by air ambulance due to the care they received through the VCC! 

Linda Rankin – Now here’s a woman who has worked tirelessly to advance the awareness of postpartum mood disorder.  She, and an equally dedicated duo of Jennifer Gordon, Project Coordinator, and Alan McQuarrie, Executive Director of Community Counselling Centre Nipissing, developed a first-ever Northern Ontario Postpartum Mood Disorder Strategy to help bring greater awareness and understanding to this mental illness. Linda has been recognized on the Minister’s Honour Roll, and she and her colleagues continue their efforts to expand this strategy across Ontario.

Shirley Watchorn – As Executive Director of the Great Northern Family Health Team in New Liskeard, Shirley led a Temiskaming District team project whose goals is to have a fall risk assessment tool included in the electronic medical records of all Family Health Teams across Northeastern Ontario. The work of she and her team, which included our own North East LHIN staff Wendy Carew and Lise Anne Boissonneault, recently received a provincial quality improvement award -- the earnings of which will be used to spread project change ideas all across the North East LHIN region.

Linda Rankin


Our list of leaders is long and noteworthy in this part of the province.  Take the many peer support workers who are responding to a record numbers of calls made to our regional “Warm Line” -- operated by Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA). More than 3,400 calls were answered in the last five months alone on this pre-crisis line, managed by peer workers.  

And thanks to the passionate efforts of Mary Davis, Executive Director of Nipissing Mental Health Housing and Support Services, fellow Northerners like three former long-stay patients at North Bay Regional Health Centre -- Robert Snow, John Thompson and Hector Ayotte -- are leaders of an innovative community housing model in North Bay.  These individuals are now living happy, productive and independent lives with a little bit of support added to their day in community. 

Yes, leadership and innovation in Northeastern Ontario is alive and well.  I am proud to be a Northerner and honoured to work alongside these individuals and the many others who are making healthy change happen in our beautiful part of Ontario.  

As always, I welcome your thoughts on how collectively, we can help Northerners stay healthy, get better and manage their care.   In the meantime, enjoy the transitions of fall and celebrate the good people that are changing the way care is delivered across our region.



Mary Davis