September 6, 2011

Dear Northerners,

Earlier this summer, I told you about the North East LHIN engaging with more than 600 enthusiastic Northerners at 24 community engagement sessions across the region.  From Wawa to Mattawa, Cochrane to Parry Sound and many communities in between, we participated in passionate discussions, heard many voices, and received great feedback on how to improve access to care in Northeastern Ontario. 

Many Northerners reflected the mounting needs and pressures of the rapidly growing numbers of seniors in our region (currently 17% and forecasted to grow to 30% by 2030).  Other issues related to the need for improved access to, and availability of, home care, assisted living services, transportation options, mental health and addiction services, culturally appropriate services, and more.

In short, we heard that the system needs to change. As one participant said: “The system needs to quit going back to the “traditional” red tape way of administering the services.” Another spoke of the “need to find new and better ways to work together.”

We’re just in the beginning stages of mapping out a plan to respond to what we heard.  However, over the summer months, we identified several opportunities to act now.  Here’s a quick snapshot of some of our recent investments in Northerners:

Support for Seniors, including assisted living services (help with activities of daily living such as bathing and meal preparation)

  • $500,000 to deliver assisted living services to residents moving into the new Lepokoti residence at Sudbury’s Finlandia Village.
  • $100,000 to develop a Mobile Day Program for Older Adults on Manitoulin Island.
  • $305,000 for assisted living services in ten new townhouses in Iroquois Falls (delivered by the Canadian Red Cross in Timmins).
  • $125,000 in assisted living services in Kapuskasing (delivered by Canadian Red Cross).
  • $132,000 for assisted living service in Kirkland Lake (delivered by Temiskaming Home Support).
  • $160,000 for assisted living services on Manitoulin Island (delivered by the VON).
  • $350,000 for assisted living services in North Bay (delivered by PHARA and Casselholme Long-Term Care Home).
  • $150,000 for transition to home beds in North Bay (a partnership between the North Bay Regional Health Centre and PHARA).
  • $190,000 to enhance portering services at Pioneer Manor Long-Term Care Home in Sudbury – the largest long-term care home in the region.

Aboriginal/First Nation/Métis

  • $63,000 towards the construction of an Elders Gathering Centre - Moocheetogamik Ghishayayuk in Moosonee which will serve as a focal point for Aboriginal elders and their caregivers to meet, receive services, referrals, assessments and even meals.
  • $12,000 for the Mamaweswen North Shore Tribal Council for Anti-Oppression Training for staff members in seven First Nations.
  • $60,000 to enhance treatment and services for clients and families at the Anishnabie Naadmaagi Gamig Substance Abuse Treatment Centre in Blind River.

Primary Care

  • $141,000 to sustain the Sault Ste. Marie Cardiac Rehab Program. 
  • $200,000 for the North East Hip and Knee Replacement Program to support the five Joint Assessment Centers for Northerners requiring hip and knee surgery.
  • $100,000 to develop a model to help small communities maximize access to general surgery services.  Nôtre Dame Hospital in Hearst will lead this project. 
  • $95,000 for physiotherapy services at the Sudbury East Community Health Centre (CHC) to help local seniors regain or retain mobility and remain in their homes longer.

Mental Health and Addictions

  • $170,000 to operate a Regional Mental Health Warm Line through NISA/Northern initiative for Social Action and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin. Operating like a “hot line,” this toll-free telephone line will be available to people across Northeastern Ontario who are in need of mental health and addiction counselling after regular office hours, seven days per week. 
  • $2.6 million to enhance services for seniors with behaviours associated with complex and challenging mental health, dementia or other neurological conditions. 
  • An additional $500,000 for a North Bay-based Behaviour Support Team to meet the needs of seniors with complex care requirements in the environment in which they live. 

These funds total close to $6 million, and they’re spread all across the North. That’s a healthy investment in the well-being of the people who call Northeastern Ontario home!

I’m proud to lead an organization whose primary interest is to make local health care decisions that have a local – and positive – impact on Northerners. 

As the North East LHIN pursues our mission to increase access to care for fellow Northerners as close to home as possible, the voices heard in our community engagements will continue to resonate at our decision-making table. I want to sincerely thank community members and health service providers for continuing to be our partners as we work together to  transform our local health care system.

I look forward to continuing to work alongside you in this regard, and to sharing our full community engagement summary report with you later this fall.