A large part of the willow at the Head Lake Park bridge was broken off during a storm last week. When arborists evaluated the damage they found that the tree was no longer safe and needed to be removed. /JENN WATT Staff

Policy on medically assisted death being drafted by HHHS

By Chad Ingram

Published Jan. 31 2017

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board on Jan. 26.

Chief of staff Dr. Kristy Gammon told the board that the medical advisory committee was looking at the issue of medically assisted death which was made legal last summer by the federal government.
Karl Hartwick has been reviewing ethics guidelines including those of the College of Physicians and Surgeons to assist in drafting a policy for HHHS.
“Moving forward we’re going to form a small sub-committee of clinicians who are involved in long-term care palliative care primary care to formulate a final policy for our facility to have” Gammon told the board.
She said following a survey they found there is support for local physicians being “assessors” in the process however HHHS would not be providing this service in the near future.
Gammon pointed out that there may be patients who ask for assisted death at home or in the long-term care homes and that HHHS should have a policy in place.

Finance committee representative David Gray told the board that he anticipates the third quarter financials will continue to remain “in positive territory.”
At the last board meeting he said there was a small surplus of just more than $26000 from the first half of the fiscal year.
He said sick time staffing and utilities continue to be pressures for the corporation.
Chairman Dave Bonham said the news wasn’t just good – it was great – and thanked Gray and the HHHS staff for their work.

Following a presentation by local midwife Rebecca Weeks the physicians at the medical advisory committee decided to draft a letter supporting Weeks’s request for courtesy privileges.
Weeks had been speaking to the doctors specifically about Rhogam an injection given to pregnant women during pregnancy or postpartum.
“The physicians felt strongly that we supported the midwives having courtesy privileges at our facility which would basically allow them to order that simple procedure for their patients preventing them travelling hours during pregnancy or with their babies” Dr. Kristy Gammon said. The letter will be given to the midwives to forward to the Central East Local Health Integration Network.

Chairman of the community advisory committee Dave Coulson told the board that he would like to see better communication with the public.
“People in this community don’t know where to go for their health care” he said. “They don’t know who to call and they don’t know what number to call.”
Coulson said despite widespread agreement that there needs to be better communication little has been done.
He was assured by the CEO and board chairman that the issue is on the agenda.

CEO Carolyn Plummer told the board that HHHS still has alternative level of care (ALC) patients in acute care beds.
“We do continue to experience challenges … with individuals in our inpatient unit who are awaiting placement in other levels of care primarily long-term care” she said.
She said HHHS is working with the LHIN and CCAC to find strategies to avoid this scenario. In the meantime the hospital is providing services to those awaiting other placements including “activation” or activities that keep the mind and body healthy. These are typically not provided to acute care patients but is normal for long-term care residents to receive.