A Brief Foreword by NAL publisher Doug Draper (followed by a media release from Port Colborne, Ontario Mayor Vance Badawey)
While the Niagara Health System – the body the province established more than a decade ago to amalgamate most of Niagara, Ontario’s hospital services has been systematically dismantling acute care services, including two hospital emergency rooms, in Niagara’s southern tier, Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey and his council have been working with doctors and other health care professionals to build a health system for the southern tier’s future.To this end, the City of Port Colborne established a South Niagara Health Care Corporation in 2008 with an aim to provide southern-tier residents with efficient and accessible primary and acute health care services for the 21st century.
A new system for the community is already emerging, said Badawey in a note to Niagara At Large, with the “introduction of Family Health Teams and Community Health Centres in our areas. In Port Colborne alone,” added the mayor, “we have recognized that 18% less patients are utilizing the ermegency rooms and urgent care centres throughout the Niagara Health System because enhanced services are available to them through community based primary health care, especially allied health care of which is required in some cases. Therefore, it’s working!”
The South Niagara Health Care Corporation is now in the process of requesting a represtantive from Welland city council and Wainfleet’s town council to sit on its board of directors so that municipalities in the southern tier can more effectively “speak with one voice care” for needed health care services. Interestingly enough, Fort Erie,Ontario, one of the communities that lost its emergency room two-and-a-half years ago and a community that is further away than Port Colborne from the nearest surviving acute care services in Niagara, has shown no interest to date in this Port Colborne-led initiative.
Badawey hopes to be meeting soon with Kevin Smith, who was brought in by the provincial government last year to operate the Niagara Health System and to work to get it back on the track to better health services for the region’s residents, to discuss ways of moving the south Niagara initiative forward.
“Our intent is not to be confrontational (with the Niagara Health System),” said Badawey. “It is simply to get the job done by being a part of the overall solution for the delivering of health care services.”
(The following is a media release on this initiative from Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey.)
South Niagara Health Care System Proposed
“We need to regain autonomy – local decision making”
January 17, 2012 – Port Colborne, Ontario Mayor Vance Badawey is calling on Dr. Kevin Smith to bring back autonomy to the Niagara Health System.
“We need to regain autonomy – local decision making,” stated Badawey. The mayor stated that “the system is too large to be administered as it was and geographically challenging. We need to bring back to our sites local decision making.”
“In 2008 the City of Port Colborne established the South Niagara Health Care Corporation (SNHCC) as a forum for a collaborative effort amongst community health care stakeholders and members of the community interested in preserving and advancing the future of health care in South Niagara.”
“Through a process of consultation with community health care service providers and enablers, SNHCC has already developed and presented to the province a clinical services plan for South Niagara as a response to the changes proposed to be introduced to our health care system.”
“It is essential to the future of health care in our community and neighbouring communities that the process continues forward to enhance community based primary health care services and provide consistent advocacy for enhanced acute health care services,” stated Badawey. “Proposed initiatives with various partners include the Inter-professional Care (IPC) pilot project to ensure all citizens of Port Colborne who have a family physician in Port Colborne have access to a Virtual Family Health Team for a basket of services regardless of the model of reimbursement in which their physician participates. As well, we have begun a health literacy campaign to educate the public about the importance of taking ownership in an understandable manner of their own health care.”
In order to continue to move forward, the South Niagara Health Care Corporation has requested a representative from Welland City Council and Wainfleet Town Council to sit on its board of directors. Badawey stated that “it is time for south Niagara to speak as one voice to ensure that the provisions of equitable access to health care services are sustainable for the southern tier.”
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