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Interlake-Eastern RHA’s Annual General Meeting Attracts 140 Residents to Pinawa

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority’s third annual general meeting attracted approximately 140 residents from across the region to Pinawa’s high school gymnasium to hear and talk about health care services and delivery in Interlake-Eastern. Staff members with exhibits showcasing RHA programs and services and those of community partners accounted for thirty-five tables that attendees could to visit.

Chair of the board, Oral Johnston spoke about changes at the RHA and accomplishments over the past year. Highlights he focused on included successful physician recruitment efforts in conjunction with the members of the Eastern Region Community Health Committee. The services of a recruitment agency that specializes in attracting physicians from commonwealth countries were secured resulting in successful doctor recruitment to Pinawa.

Eastern Region Community Health Committee is comprised of representatives from eleven communities / RMs that work with the RHA on stabilizing health care services in the area. A similar group has been established in Teulon and area to work with the RHA to achieve a similar goal. 

The region has started piloting protocols that provide registered nurses with the ability to offer more extensive services in emergency departments. Physician representatives from all over the region have endorsed the expanded nursing protocols to be followed when addressing common emergency department presentations when a physician is on the way to or unavailable in the emergency department. The protocols are expected to roll out across the region this year.

Johnston also touched on the significant role the region’s Cancer Navigation Services Team has been playing in the lives of residents living with cancer.  This team of nurses, a social worker work to provide people with support, education and links to resources that are beneficial in the event of a cancer diagnosis. A community engagement liaison on this team coordinates requests for service, helps communities access culturally safe care and provides cancer awareness information.

“Cancer remains one of the leading chronic diseases in our region,” Johnston said. “Last year this team helped 438 people. This year, just eight months in, the team has already supported 295 people. Cancer Navigation Services is an essential support to anyone who has a cancer diagnosis or who suspects they may have cancer.”

The region’s Local Health Involvement Groups are now in place and functioning, providing the board of directors with feedback on questions that will assist in planning and decision making.

Johnston wrapped up with a status report on the RHA’s major construction projects: Selkirk General Hospital is on schedule to be closed in by winter so that work can continue over the winter. The project is on track for project completion in spring 2017. The new personal care home in Lac du Bonnet has proceeded to design development phase and user groups have been established to assist with design planning. The project should be ready for a cost estimate later this fall. Construction has started on Pine Falls Primary Health and Traditional Healing Centre. At the celebration of project construction, local First Nations leaders and elders announced the name of the new traditional healing centre as Giigewigamig meaning “place to heal”.

“The RHA will be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the healing centre and the First Nations communities that have sat with us at the planning table since we first started talking about this project will guide the programs and activities that take place in the healing centre,” Johnston said. “Giigewigamig will be open to everyone, allowing people of different cultures to learn from each other and grow in our appreciation of healthy living and healing.”

Chief executive officer of Interlake-Eastern RHA, Ron Van Denakker, spoke about the work being done to create sustainable health care in the region. He addressed six priority points the region is focusing on to better meet resident’s care needs: physician recruitment and engagement, evolution of clinical services, continued introduction of other health care providers who can also address care needs, applying a human resources strategy and growing employees from within the region, continued targeted healthy living and wellness programming, and expansion of supports to seniors.

“Our RHA is filled with staff leaders who have they information they need to identify what we need to do to meet our priorities. I’m making it my mandate to offer the support and guidance we need to address what we need to do,” Van Denakker said.

The evening wrapped up with a presentation on the region’s support to seniors programs and where growth needs to occur to meet the growing needs of this population group in Interlake-Eastern RHA.

Comments and questions from audience members revolved around physician shortages, priorities for the region, and funding for home care and meal programs.

Johnston presented to two chair’s awards for excellent customer service to RHA staff members: Carol Harder, an information support analyst based in Selkirk who provides phone support to staff all over the region who need help with computers, phones and other technology; and Connie Randell, a registered nurse with the community cancer program in Pinawa. Randell was unable to attend but her manager, Tracy Abraham, accepted on her behalf.

Van Denakker presented the CEO award for community leadership to David Oakley of Teulon for his work with the Teulon Health Services Working Group.

The region’s 2014-15 annual report is now posted online.


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