Flu season puts pressure on hospitals
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Jan. 25 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board.
A chain reaction starting with flu outbreaks at nursing homes in the wider region has ended up putting pressure on HHHS facilities.
When there’s an outbreak at a long-term care home, no new residents are admitted during that time, which often means hospitals have to provide beds for those residents while they wait.
“This has reduced the number of available beds for patients requiring hospital admission, which has led to admitted patients having to wait in emergency departments, including here at HHHS,” CEO Carolyn Plummer’s report to the board states.
Additional staff, equipment and supplies have been brought in to assist with influx.
“It’s never any fun to be a patient on a stretcher in emerg, but to have to be admitted to hospital and not be able to leave that stretcher is just not ideal at all,” she said. “It’ll be great when the flu season’s over with.”
Bone mineral densitometry now available
Donations gathered through the efforts of the HHHS Foundation allowed for the purchase of a new machine that can measure bone density, assisting in the diagnosis and monitoring of osteoporosis.
The equipment cost $175,000 and is located in Minden. Patients can be referred to the service through their doctor.
“The availability of [bone mineral densitometry] in Haliburton County means that individuals requiring this test no longer need to travel out of town,” Plummer’s report reads.
HHHSF executive director Lisa Tompkins pointed out that the money was raised from the community at the same time as the Making Moments Matter campaign for the palliative centre.
“The funding and fundraising that paid for this happened in tandem with the major capital campaign for the palliative centre. This was a significant piece of equipment. It just demonstrates the generosity of the donors in this community,” she said.
Tompkins noted the Christmas campaign brought in $124,000 for HHHS and that would be directed to priority projects including a portable ultrasound machine.
Finance committee chair David Gray told the board that grant dollars in the last year were particularly impressive with a total of $819,536 coming in to improve infrastructure.
Plummer’s report to the board stated that more than $500,000 had been approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for energy efficiency upgrades including the lighting system and distribution system.
Other work done included repairing the hospital roof, paving the parking lot and walkways at Community Support Services and replacing the roof at the GAIN building in Minden.
Local production of Meals on Wheels
A pilot project to test out whether meals could be produced locally to be distributed in the Meals on Wheels program returned positive results. Produced by SIRCH Community Services and funded by Haliburton County Development Corporation, about 3,000 of the service’s most popular entrees were produced.
“It was a very successful pilot and it was a great opportunity to look at the possibility of creating more jobs locally and making those meal entrees locally as opposed to bringing them in from outside of the region,” Plummer said during the board meeting.
“Now we’re in the process of looking at where we can get funding or how we can get funding and where we can find space – because we need both – for more freezers and bigger freezers,” she said.
Although the pilot involved 3,000 meals, during a year, the demand would be something close to 17,000. However, if all parties are able to make it happen, it would likely lead to between one and two local jobs.
Plummer noted the Central East LHIN was pleased with the results of the pilot.
Hike for Hospice returning May 6
During the board meeting, Tompkins announced that Hike For Hospice would be returning to the Highlands as a fundraiser for hospice and palliative care services.
Over the last few years, there has been shuffling of responsibility for hospice services, which were previously provided by SIRCH. In the midst of the change over, Hike For Hospice fell off the calendar.
But it’s coming back.
Hike for Hospice is a national campaign raising awareness and money, Tompkins said.
Money raised will go to local services.
“It’s an opportunity to continue to build awareness for the important work that’s being done by staff and volunteers in the areas of hospice and palliative [care] and of course it’s an opportunity for the community to celebrate the lives of their loved ones,” she said in the meeting.
The event will take place Sunday, May 6 in Haliburton.
Keep an eye on local media and hhhs.ca/foundation for more information.
New doctor in town
Chief of staff Dr. Kristy Gammon told the board that a new doctor had joined the community. Dr. Devon Tilbrook is working at the Family Medical Centre and also at HHHS. She started in January and has moved to the Highlands.
McKecks delivers meals at Christmas
Much to the surprise of staff and patients, McKecks Tap and Grill in Haliburton arrived at the Haliburton hospital and long-term care unit with turkey dinners, pies and goodies for everyone – patients, staff, residents and their families – on Christmas Day.
CEO Carolyn Plummer thanked the restaurant for their generosity, calling it “extraordinary.”
“It just goes to show what kind of community we live in,” she said.
Paramedicine program filling the gaps
The new Community Paramedicine Program has been running smoothly with 57 patients enrolled in the two months since it began and positive feedback. The partnership between the Haliburton County Paramedic Service and HHHS has a dedicated paramedic conduct wellness checks on seniors who would be challenged to drive to the hospital for medical attention, or those in isolated areas.
“It fills a real gap in services for our rural population,” Plummer’s report reads. “The scope of the program is expanding steadily, with other paramedics and health service providers identifying clients who are at-risk in the community.”