North Coast health care … lost in translation

North Coast health care … lost in translation

Port Edward council asked for a clarification on what services Northern Health offers to community members and were left in a fog

Port Edward council asked for a clarification on what services Northern Health offers to community members and instead they were left in a fog.

“I have had a good experience with home care. The way they were describing it tonight,  I was more confused,” Councillor Dan Franzen said after Northern Health presented on what the health authority is working on to improve the gaps.

Health service administrator for Northern Health Michael Melia and Jacquie Hakes, manager of community services for Northern Health, came to the Jan. 10 meeting after council requested a meeting in November 2016.

At the Nov. 6 council meeting, resident Deanna Lewis spurred the request when she asked to have access to home care in the district at the Nov. 6 council meeting.

“I’ve lived here all my life and looking after my mother, I found out how difficult it is for elders,” she said requesting to have a nurse employed in the district, and having aides to support seniors.

Mayor Dave MacDonald said to Northern Health that the biggest question is how to get services when you need them.

Melia said that Northern Health is looking to centralize its services and to develop a one-stop shop for care with a focus on frail elderly people or individuals living with complex conditions.

In the meantime, Melia offered a community service number to council for residents to call (250-622-6225). Residents who call that number will reach someone at Northern Health who will direct them to whatever service they’re looking for.

“I just want to be clear, if I have an elderly parent, [will] any doctor in town will have all the information?” Councillor Christine Mackenzie said.

Not yet, Melia responded explaining how they are currently in transition but they’re working with two physicians to find out a system that works to better connect patients, doctors and Northern Health services.

“The benefits are that you have a full team wrapped around that care instead of it being separate,” Melia said.

Council then asked about affordable home care, bringing the issue back to the resident who made the request back in November. Hakes said questions about finances and home support could be directed to Northern Health, or the catch-all number they provided.

Despite the wait-and-see details provided by Northern Health, Melia did present council with a concrete update on recent improvements. In the last year, they have recruited 23 liaison nurses in the ER, with five new nurses training in the operating room. They’ve also added two psychiatric liaison nurses.

The bathing room in the patient care unit was renovated for $90,000 with half the funds coming from the Port of Prince Rupert and the other half from Northern Health.

A portable digital X-Ray costing $117,000 was also introduced with funds from the port, and the operating rooms had lighting upgrades.

Northern Health estimated that the new program, which would streamline health services, will be running in approximately six months. Until then, call their catch-all number.