| Jun 08, 2006


Feature Article - June 8, 2006

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Feature Article - June 8, 2006

LHINsroad show comes to Sharbot Lake,Sydenham

by JeffGreen

Wayne Marsh, a consultant and facilitator, has been one of the people travelling around the region over the past two weeks, gathering opinions and concerns about health care as part of the planning work for the development of the South East Ontario Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Over the next year and a half the LHINs will take over the responsibility for funding many aspects of the health care system in Ontario , including hospitals and home care services, community support services, mental health and addiction agencies, community health centres and long-term care homes.

Amalgamation

Public meetings have been held in Denbigh, Northbrook, Plevna, Sharbot Lake , and Sydenham over the past two weeks, and in 17 other locations throughout the large area covered by the South East LHIN. People’s opinions are being sought about what is good about the healthcare system; what the gaps in service are; what roadblocks make it difficult to get services; and what can be done to improve service. Aside from holding public meetings, the South East LHIN has also been meeting with doctors and social service agencies throughout the region.

“Everything people say is being recorded, and it will be our job to put all that together and present it to the LHIN working group that will be developing the service plan to be presented to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at the end of September,” Wayne Marsh told about 22 people who showed up for a lunch hour meeting in Sharbot Lake this past Monday.

Wayne March was accompanied in Sharbot Lake by Florence Campbell, one of the board members of the local LHIN.

She said that Ontario has taken a different route in health care reform than other provinces by “consulting with the public before signing off on our plan, and we will continue to consult with the people after the LHIN is up and running.” She also said she is particularly interested in the viewpoint of rural people.

“Our LHIN has two particular characteristics that make it different from the other 13 in the province. For one thing we have the largest percentage of seniors of any LHIN, and 44% of our population is rural.”

Rural concerns dominated in the opinions expressed at the Sharbot Lake meeting. People were happy with the service they receive from the local medical centre, which will be adding more services when it takes the role of Family Health Team, but expressed concerns about issues of distance and cuts to homecare services.

At the LHIN meeting in Sydenham on Monday evening, concerns were a bit different, with people talking about a shortage of doctors and the fact that often services are only offered in Kingston . That is fine for those people who work in Kingston , but not for others.

Wayne Marsh took pains to draw out the opinions that people were expressing. As a consultant, he did not respond to any of the concerns and suggestions.

The one-way nature of the sessions was noted by Ross Sutherland, who attended the Sharbot Lake and Sydenham meetings. Sutherland is a resident of Snug Harbour who is a nurse at Hotel Dieu hospital and an activist with the Kingston Health Coalition, a group that has been wary of the way the LHINs have been developing.

In an interview with the News after the meetings, he said, “The problem with the meetings is the problem with the LHINs. They are hearing great ideas from the community, but who’s going to decide? It’s a bunch of appointed bureaucrats from Toronto . The structure of the LHINS is inherently undemocratic and inherently centralising. It will provide technocratic answers to what are really community problems.”

According to Florence Campbell, the results of the working group’s deliberations will result in the development of an integrated health services plan, which will be presented to the public before it is submitted to the province at the end of September.

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