As coronavirus cases rise elsewhere, HHHS takes precautions
By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Jan. 30 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board.
As the HHHS board was gathered in a closed session prior to the open board meeting, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.
Symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus range from common to severe respiratory illnesses and include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, and kidney failure; in severe cases death can be an outcome. At press time, 259 deaths since December had been reported in China where the outbreak is believed to have originated. HHHS CEO Carolyn Plummer said the government has so far indicated the risk in Canada continues to be low.
“We are continuing to pay attention to all of the information that is coming to us in regards to the coronavirus situation,” she said, noting HHHS had been in communication with the Ministry of Health, Central East Local Health Integration Network, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and regional health service partners to ensure the most accurate, up-to-date information was available. Her report also noted HHHS was ensuring that “we are taking the necessary actions to help protect the health and safety of our patients, residents, clients, staff, volunteers, visitors, and the community as a whole.”
Increased signage at emergency departments, travel screening for those exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and necessary infection prevention precautions are in place at area hospitals and health-care centres, including reminders for hand washing.
“A number of respiratory illnesses, including some common coronaviruses, are circulating at this time of year and it is peak flu season,” said Plummer’s report. “Most people with common coronavirus illness will recover on their own; members of the public can seek recommendations from their healthcare provider about steps to relieve symptoms.”
In Ontario, at press time, there were three confirmed cases of novel coronavirus.
HHHS achieves accreditation
Haliburton Highlands Health Services has officially received its accreditation designation.
“A lot of work to get there but we have officially received that so it’s great news,” said Plummer, who acknowledged “the hard work and effort of everybody involved in the accreditation process: staff, physicians, volunteers, folks from the various committees, board members.”
Plummer said it was an “excellent process for helping identify opportunities for improvement,” and based on feedback from Accreditation Canada, had established an action plan to address areas that could be improved.
“I think the plan that we have is a good one, we’ve already crossed some of the things off our list and we’re continuing to move forward,” she said.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services continues to face a $167,000 year-to-date deficit as of the end of November. The closure of Highland Wood long-term care home for nearly four months last year due to multiple roof leaks was responsible for most of what was then a $245,000 year-to-date deficit as of the end of July 2019.
“HHHS is continuing to work closely with our LHIN and our health-care partners ... to address the continued funding shortfalls for the services we provide especially in regards to long-term care,” said David Gray on behalf of David O’Brien, finance committee chair. “The management team is continuing to work on strategies and action plans to address these pressures, and is successfully holding the line on current operating costs on a monthly basis, without impacting services to our community.”
The 2021 balanced operating plans have been submitted to the LHIN for its review and approval.
Youth Wellness Hub grand opening
The Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub is officially open and a grand opening ceremony will be held at the Haliburton Legion at 719 Mountain Street on Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. Tours of the facility, which is located at 12 Dysart Avenue, will take place prior to the grand opening ceremony happening, at 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.
“The Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub offers services and supports in the areas of mental health and addictions, primary care and sexual health, employment and vocational supports, income supports and housing help, and other responsive services as needs arise,” said Plummer in her report.
Anyone planning to attend and/or participate in a tour is required to pre-registered by contacting Dawn Milburn at Point in Time, at 705-457-5345 x. 338 or email@example.com.
Potential for personal support worker training program
The Trillium Lakelands District School Board, Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub and HHHS are exploring the possibility of developing and implementing a local personal support worker training program.
“...[T]here is a shortage of personal support workers in the health system in general,” said Plummer. “It’s often very difficult in particular for home and community care services to be provided to the extent that they’re needed in big part because of a lack of sufficient number of personal support workers.”
“A program such as this would not only help to increase health human resources locally, but it would also help contribute to expanding educational and employment opportunities in this community,” said Plummer. “It’s a win-win-win all the way around and a great opportunity for our organization.”
New equipment in place
Staff have been appreciating new cardiac monitoring and telemetry equipment acquired for both emergency rooms and the inpatient acute care unit through the support of the HHHS Foundation.
“The staff have been saying nothing but positive things about it,” said Plummer, who noted the additional features of the new equipment compared to the old equipment helps improve patient care and the patient experience.
“Cardiac monitoring and telemetry are not only essential for patients with heart problems but are also needed for trauma, stroke, shock, hypothermia, sepsis, and many other health conditions for patients of all ages from infants to older adults,” said Plummer’s report. “Additionally, some medications require cardiac monitoring for safe administration. This new equipment and software also allows for transmission of cardiac data to specialists in other centres for interpretation, and if transfer is needed, it facilitates seamless patient care.”
HHHS has also upgraded X-ray equipment, and is digitizing current equipment in both the Minden and Haliburton diagnostic imaging departments.
“This upgrade will help improve the accuracy of X-ray images, as well as the speed of transmission, which will help improve patient care,” said Plummer’s report.