Matt Simeoni, Board Chair, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
June 19, 2019
Improving patients’ experiences and outcomes means improving their journeys of care. This is central to our Strategic Plan 2020, which places Patients First so we can achieve our Vision of Healthy Together.
This is about more than achieving one of the most important metrics at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. It is part of our philosophy of providing the right care at the right time. Specifically, we want to reduce admissions by encouraging preventive care earlier, provide acute care services to those who need it when they need it, and help patients transition to home care, short-stay beds, or long-term care when they are ready. It is customized care that is planned with patients and their families.
That sounds like a straightforward strategy, but there are many barriers to care in a region as large and diverse as Northwestern Ontario.
We and our health care partners serve a landmass that covers half the province, so geographic barriers are significant. Serving our large Indigenous population presents another set of challenges including language and cultural barriers along with geography. To overcome these, we design programs that provide closer-to-home care in the region where possible and help patients access health care services in Thunder Bay or other centres in the region when necessary. Northwestern Ontario has some of the highest rates of chronic disease including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease leading to higher rates of renal care and amputations. They are particularly high among our Indigenous population.
Research is helping tremendously. Traditionally, an acute care centre of our size wouldn’t have a facility like we have in the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute. The same is true of the Cardiovascular Surgical Services program we are building in partnership with the University Health Network. Not only will this provide heart surgery right here in Thunder Bay, it will reduce the number of amputations and reduce complications from renal care due to a number of interventional surgical techniques not available here before.
Smart health also promises to improve access to the level of health care we provide and potentially reduce travel for patients in the region. Dr. Zubair Fadlullah recently joined us as our newest scientist, becoming the first Lakehead University-Health Research Institute Research Chair in Smart Health Technology. He will be investigating new models of distance health care based on remote sensing and artificial intelligence (AI) for decision support.
We are proud of the dedication of our leaders, staff, professional staff, scientists, patient family advisors, and volunteers in improving patient flow and achieving the goals set out in our Strategic Plan 2020. Clearly, it’s a complex challenge that requires a tailor made response. Our Hospital is a leader in exploring closer-to-home care in Northwestern Ontario, bringing more services to the region and overcoming barriers to care to ensure we are Healthy Together.
Board Chair, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre