Highlands seniors get $1M health care boost
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | January 15, 2015
Haliburton County's elderly population will receive more support and services in the near future thanks to a $1.1 million investment from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Ontario government.
The main lobby of the Haliburton hospital was full for the Jan. 13 funding announcement.
According to Wayne Gladstone, chair of the Central East LHIN, the significant investment will enable seniors and other residents to stay in their homes and communities.
"The Central East LHIN and the Ontario government will provide an investment of over $1 million to allow interdisciplinary teams to provide more community health services to individuals with complex medical, social and/or cognitive issues," said Gladstone.
A press release states that Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) will be able to create a new Rural Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network (GAIN) team to provide in-home care to at-risk seniors via multi-professional care teams and their physicians; introduce a new assisted living services program for high-risk seniors where they will receive 24/7 scheduled and unscheduled visits for personal support and homemaking services, security checks and care coordination; and establish a new palliative care community team to provide clinical and non-clinical community-based care to palliative and end-of-life patients and their caregivers.
HHHS will also be able to set up a physiotherapy clinic at the Minden hospital to complement its existing physiotherapy program and exercise and falls prevention classes offered throughout the county.
Gladstone said the investment is supported both by the Minister of Health's action plan and the mission of the Central East LHIN, which is "to create an integrated, sustainable health care system that ensures better health, better care and better value for money."
These types of investments have been realized in part due to the recent integration of health services in the county, said Gladstone.
Of the investment, $725,000 will support the efforts of the GAIN team, $148,000 will go to assisted living for high-risk seniors, $122,000 will be allocated to the palliative care community team and $110,000 will be used to establish a community physiotherapy clinic.
HHHS CEO Varouj Eskedjian said it was a day to celebrate at HHHS.
"If you're an elderly resident of Haliburton County this is absolutely a fantastic day for you," said Eskedjian.
The investment will represent a four per cent increase in the organization's overall budget and a 40 per cent increase in the community support services budget. Eskedjian said that 12 full-time staff and two part-timers will be hired, resulting in a positive economic spin-off in the community.
"If you take a look at the numbers alone, they represent the largest health investment in this community in the last 10 years and the second largest since our facilities were built more than 15 years ago," he said.
Dorothy Owen, a long-time hospice volunteer and member of the HHHS community advisory committee, was equally as excited about the good news.
"As a resident of Haliburton County I am so thankful. Thankful that the growing number of seniors in our county with complex health issues may be able to remain in their homes instead of prematurely entering hospital or long-term care," she said.
The investment will also reduce the number of "unnecessary visits to emergency departments." Owen called these visits "exhausting and disorienting for frail seniors."
"Results will be greater quality of life for the senior and peace of mind for their caregiver and family members," she said, referring to the work of the GAIN team.
MPP Laurie Scott was in attendance to congratulate the entire HHHS team, including Eskedjian and the board of directors.
"They applied, they filled out the forms, they saw the community needs – and I can't thank them enough for that leadership and I can't thank the LHIN enough for recognizing what our needs are and agreeing to the dollars that you gave us so that we can deliver those needs," said Scott.
"Our two sites [Minden and Haliburton] are both benefitting from the dollars that are awarded today."
Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt attended on behalf of County Warden Murray Fearrey to thank those involved in the project.
"It's really going to make a big change for Haliburton County," said Moffatt. "I think it's often been said that it takes a village to raise a child. I think in our community it takes a village to ensure that seniors and vulnerable folks are safe and healthy in their homes."
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.