August 28, 2012

Dear fellow Northerners,

Nights are cool, it’s nippy in the morning, and the best part of August – no bugs! (which makes sitting around the campfire or riding my horse in the woods very pleasant!)

It’s been a great summer! And particularly memorable for me as my daughter Ashley gave birth to my first grandchild –baby Kiran—in August. Holding his little scrunched up body in the hospital brought me back to those early years with my three kids --surviving diapers and daycare, then packing school lunches, and even rushing my son to the Emergency Department in Sault Ste. Marie after he broke his leg at the ski hill.

Seasons change and so do people. In health care, we need to make sure we have the right care ready for Northerners of all ages when they need it.

Recently, I heard about a friend’s daughter, away at summer camp on Manitoulin Island, who was struck by a painful appendicitis attack. Taken by ambulance to the Espanola hospital who triaged her, she was then sent on to Health Sciences North for surgery. Only 24 hours later, the 15-year-old was back at home with a great care plan.  “We had the best care for our daughter.  There are good health care stories, I hope ours gets told,” her parents said.

In the North, there’s certainly more of us Baby Boomers welcoming our first grandkids, than teens coming back from summer camp and heading off to high school. I’ve written many times about how the population here in the North East is about a decade ahead of the rest of the province in terms of aging with about 18 % now older than 65 -- which works out to almost one in five Northerners.

In September our LHIN will be hosting a visit by Dr. Samir Sinha, the newly appointed Provincial Seniors Care Strategy Lead. Dr. Sinha is touring the province and visiting with stakeholders and health care providers in an effort to develop a Seniors Care Strategy for Ontario.

We’ve got lots to talk to him about including how we’ve been working to invest more in assisted living for seniors and other services so that the frail elderly have as much independence as they want with as much care as they need. We’ll also talk to him about some of the challenges we face here in the north including overcoming our vast geography, and difficulties recruiting and retaining health care professionals.

And speaking of recruitment, August has brought good news for our North East LHIN with the appointment of Elaine Pitcher, a lawyer and former chair of the Sault Area Hospital, as the new Chair as well as a new Board Director – Santina Marasco, whose experience helping the frail elderly, health care providers and families through times of crisis and grief will certainly be an asset.

Finally as you know from my earlier blog, the North East is in the process of developing a plan for the next three years. One of the ways we’re gathering the thoughts of fellow northerners is through a survey. So far we’ve had more than 1000 people fill one out. If you haven’t done so, please take 5 minutes to let us know what you think our priorities should be over the next three years. To take the survey Click here!

As Mahatma Gandhi once said,“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Talk to you next month … until then enjoy the rest of our glorious summer!