March 8, 2011

Dear Northerners,

The old adage “Time flies when you’re having fun” could be adapted to “Time flies when you work in Health care!!!”  As I reflect on my first year with the NELHIN -- I can’t believe it’s already been a year -- I must admit the past 12 months have been some of the most exciting and challenging of my life.  So, have we made a difference? Well, here are what I consider our 10 top accomplishments.


  • Improved the lives of 14,600 seniors through Aging at Home initiatives including services that drove them to medical appointments; helped bathe and dress seniors with mobility issues; brought hot meals to their homes; checked up on them; and even shoveled their walkways.
  • Delivered new or enhanced assisted living services to 700 more seniors.
  • Funded 61 new assess and restore beds in two hospitals. Thanks to these special “rehabilitation beds”, so far 65 seniors have been able to recover their former strength and return home instead of to a long-term care facility.
  • Piloted a nurse-led outreach team in three Sudbury long care homes that has cut down the number of visits by residents to the emergency department and actually shortened the length of stay for those who were admitted to hospital.  A new nurse practitioner-led team in Sault Ste. Marie is now supporting six long-term care homes.
  • Provided care for seniors and the frail elderly with 235 more transitional care beds while they move out of hospital and into more appropriate locations for care.

And an additional 178 seniors have gone home from the hospital in the past four months with extra community support. More commonly known as Home First, this transition management philosophy aims to support patients to return home once discharged from the hospital prior to deciding on placement in a LTC home or alternative setting

  • Initiated Geriatric Emergency Nursing Programs in Sudbury, Parry Sound and Sault Ste. Marie that have helped provide specialized care for more than 500 seniors after they arrived at the Emergency department.
  • Supported the first-ever North East Specialized Geriatric Service that has brought the first Geriatrician to the region. More than 1,600 seniors have had their health programs revised and improved since March, 2009.
  • Created Ontario’s first-ever integrated model of care for addiction and mental health services.  When completed, the Algoma Anchor Agency will unite 18 providers and 129 services to make addiction and mental health services easier to access in Algoma.
  • Cut wait times for knee surgery by 78% with a North East LHIN-supported Joint Assessment Centre at Sudbury Regional Hospital, (February 2010), and another which recently opened in Timmins. Others are scheduled to open in Parry Sound, Sault Ste. Marie and North Bay. 
  • Piloted a new program called Doorways, which lets 22 mental health service providers securely share electronic records so that patients don’t have to give the same information or run the same tests over and over again.  In its first two months, this electronic “portal” has already allowed 1,724 records to be shared, which means more time for client care and less time on administration.

Remember Charles Dickens famous lines “IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES.” Well, one thing is for sure. IT IS A TIME OF TREMENDOUS CHANGE. We are shifting from a system that is focused on acute care to one that is focused on chronic care. The need for increased home care reflects the demographic reality of an aging population. Northerners are living with a complex range of health issues like diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer. There are a million diabetics in Ontario of which 45,330 live in NE Ontario — which works out to 12 per cent, two points higher than the provincial average.

As I look to the year ahead, I am reminded of the words from Invictus: ”I am master of my fate and captain of my soul”. It is with this belief that we will transform our health care system here in Northeastern Ontario. It needs to be a collective effort, a partnership and in the best interest of the people we love. As Northerners, we need to keep the channels of communication open if we want to improve our system. And I can assure you that the North East LHIN will continue to work with all health service and community providers across Northeastern Ontario in an effort to improve the patient experience.

So, I’m listening and empowering you to tell me, and other NE LHIN staff, about the health care needs in your community because it will take all of our combined efforts to improve our system. Your comments or questions are welcomed right here on this blog,
Phone: 1-866-906-5446