By Angelica Ingram
Progress on a palliative care wing a new telehomecare program and a million dollars.
The past year was a strong one for the Haliburton Highlands Health Services and the foundation with more in store for the community in 2016.
With a change in leadership at the end of 2015 HHHS brought in interim CEO and president Carolyn Plummer who normally holds the role of chief nurse executive and director of patient care to take helm of the corporation through the changes and challenges that lie ahead.
Plummer has been splitting her time between Toronto and the Highlands since 2000 and is looking forward to a new career opportunity.
With consulting and various health positions under her belt Plummer has done a lot of strategic planning projects organizational reviews and some work with the Ministry of Health on structuring the Local Health Integration Networks when first introduced.
Prior to joining the team at HHHS in the fall of last year Plummer was a member of the board of directors and is looking forward to using her experience to guide the corporation in the year ahead.
One of the large projects underway is plans to build a new palliative care wing which has been delayed from its original timeline.
Now about halfway through the approval process with the ministry the hope is to break ground on the palliative wing sometime this spring or summer said Plummer.
The capital campaign associated with the wing Making Moments Matter was launched by the foundation in 2014 and has been extremely successful to date meaning HHHS is ready to move ahead with the plans as soon as approvals are in place.
One project that was launched last year was the GAIN (geriatric assessment and intervention network) program which focuses on care for seniors helping to keep them home longer.
“Things are going very well with that program” said Plummer.
Plummer is proud of the work done with the community particularly with the launch of a new committee.
“One of the biggest things we’ve been able to do this year is we’ve started the community advisory committee which is part of our board of directors” said the CEO. “That’s been a great committee because it’s really helping us have a good understanding of what the trends are and what the issues are from the perspective of the community and really having a chance to hear those and be able to act on them and plan our services around what the community really wants to see.”
A new program that quietly launched at the end of 2015 called telehomecare is something that has Plummer excited for 2016 as it helps alleviate hospital pressure by monitoring patients remotely.
“It’s specifically directed to people who are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure or both” said Plummer. “The idea of the program is patients are given some very very simple-to-use monitoring equipment in their home. They’re given instruction on how to use that it’s all set up for them and then they actually monitor results on a daily basis. They can check their own blood pressure for example.”
Already running in other communities the program keeps track of the info which is fed to a nurse working at HHHS who monitors the info on a daily basis.
If something out of the ordinary occurs the nurse is then sent an alert who follows up with the patient. Working on a referral basis the goal is to help patients avoid coming into the hospital.
“It helps the person keep from getting into a crisis situation” said Plummer.
Other highlights from the past year include an expansion of the adult day program providing emergency medical services for the Pan Am games launching a community physiotherapy clinic and a successful accreditation process.
Looking ahead the CEO is focusing on continuing to grow and expand as a rural health care hub.
“Our hope is that at some point in time we’ll be able to provide the full range of health-care services throughout a person’s life essentially from beginning to end” she said. “And all different types of healthcare services.”
The corporation would not be able to launch programs or purchase equipment needed to provide services if it weren’t for the support of the HHHS foundation.
Last year marked another stellar year for the fundraising group who reached a million dollars for the second year in a row said HHHSF executive director Dale Walker.
“I think that is huge for us” she said. “When we started the foundation we thought how much can the foundation raise in a year? … and we kind of thought if we could raise $300000 to 500000 a year that would help with the needs of the facility.”
Started in 1997 the foundation has spearheaded many campaigns including Believe in the Magic of Giving Cash for Care and the recent Making Moments Matter campaign for the palliative care wing.
“This year the Believe in the Magic of Giving campaign has done really well and we’ve hit $100000” said Walker. “I really think a lot of that had to do with the equipment it was [going towards] emergency department equipment. Things that people can relate to when they come in here.”
Apart from the annual campaigns and special projects the foundation has seen recent strides in legacy gifts and bequests and estate donations.
Donations of any kind speak to the trust the community places in the foundation and their desire to contribute to health services.
“The hospital’s a big part of the community” said Walker. “Although we’re not big in terms of size we are a big part of the community.”
Walker loves when she gets handwritten notes from donors speaking to the great care they received from HHHS. The executive director has also seen a lot of new donors lend their support in the past year.
Looking ahead to next year the foundation is already working on special events and campaigns such as the fourth annual Cash for Care which was launched at the end of 2015 and the start of the palliative care wing.
“We’re looking forward to that groundbreaking that will be a big event for us” said Walker.