| Nov 01, 2007

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Feature Article - November 1, 2007

LHIN Chair Likes What Rural Agencies Are Doing.by Jeff Green

When Georgina Thompson, the chair of the board of the Southeast Ontario Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) first came to public meetings in Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Counties about two years ago, she was greeted with skepticism about what the advent of the LHINS would be mean to rural health care and to the future viability of community support programs that have been serving seniors in their homes for many years.


At that time Thompson, and the LHIN CAO Paul Huras were saying that the LHIN was devoted to concepts such as “patient centred care” and wanted different parts of the health care system to 'stop acting as if they were in silos' and begin working together to deliver efficient service to people.

Some of the staff working at agencies such as Northern Frontenac Community Services, Land O'Lakes Comminity Services, and Rural VISIONS, which all act as one-stop shopping hubs for a variety of services for children, adults, and seniors - services that are delivered by many different agencies out of their offices, wondered quietly why they needed to hear this message. In order to serve rural areas, they all had been working in the way that Thompson and Huras were advocating for many years, providing a home for any and all agencies that could help serve the seniors in their regions.

Two years later, it seems that Georgina Thompson is familiar with the way things work in rural Frontenac and Addington Counties, and she likes what she sees.

In her keynote address to the Annual General Meeting of Northern Frontenac Community Services at Sharbot Lake last week.

“I'm hoping that we will be able to point to you, as a best practice. We recognize that there are a lot of good things happening here, a lot of those good things I didn't recognize until today,” she said.

The Southeastern Local Health Integration Network, which takes in a huge swath of territory, including three cities on the 401, Belleville, Kingston, and Brockville, and Hastings, Lennox and Addington, Frontenac, Lanark, and Leeds and Grenvile Counties. It oversees an annual budget of $900 million, including in excess of $350 million annually for Kingston General Hospital.

“Ours is the most rural LHIN in Southern Ontario, and it has the highest proportion of senior citizens of all the LHINS” Thompson said, “so we have our challenges.”

Among cuthat Georgina Thompson noted were the establishment of a current initiatives that the Southeast LHIN has undertaken are a patient registry, and a $17 million “Aging in Place” initiative.

After Georgina Thompson spoke, outgoing Northern Frontenac Community Services Board Chair John Kerr-Wilson told her, “we were quite concerned about what the LHIN would be when it was first announced and when we went to the first meetings, but I would like to tell you that we are a little less concerned now, a little less uneasy.”

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