Planning for our healthy future

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All of us in the health care sector work hard every day to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the patients and families we serve. At (HHS), this mission of service and caring is our North Star – something we always look to for direction and focus. Fulfilling that mission can be very challenging given the pace of change in healthcare.

The demands on our services are growing and changing. The patients we see are living longer, and often have more complex conditions. They also frequently have higher expectations for their health care experience than in years past. And while technological breakthroughs are offering new treatments and new hope, they often come with a steep price – high tech tools are  expensive.

When it comes to “bricks and mortar”, our facilities are aging. All of this at a time when funding for hospitals is flat or shrinking as governments struggle to balance budgets and realign priorities. Like many of our peers, we are committed to overcoming these challenges in a positive and proactive way. But finding solutions will require the creative energies and intellectual horsepower of everyone who cares about and relies upon our organization.

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With this in mind, HHS has launched a long-term visioning initiative called Our Healthy Future. We are working with patients, families and communities, to imagine the future of the delivery of care at HHS. We intend to determine what services our community will need and want from HHS in the future and how we will deliver those services. Beyond being a plan for the future of our clinical care, Our Healthy Future will be very helpful for new facilities that HHS may require beyond the next 10 years or longer, and how we’ll work with our community partners to create a more seamless health care system.

We began this process with research and discovery. Many of our staff, physicians and volunteers have been involved in groups that are analyzing our programs and services, and looking at population data. At the same time, we conducted a series of community workshops and an online engagement website (ourhealthyfuture.ca), where people from across our region could tell us what they value most when it comes to health care services.

To date, we’ve held nine community workshops, and we’ve also visited our local Farmer’s Market and other community venues/events to engage with community members and provide them with the opportunity to submit their input. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in these community events, where I’ve connected with many fellow community members whose stories and ideas both validate and challenge the work we do as health care providers.

I am sure these individuals represent the views of many Canadians. Their stories are testimonies to the general understanding that, while there are many things we’re doing right as a hospital system, there are also many opportunities for improvement. Some stories are positive, others constructive. But the one common thread that’s become clear to me throughout this process is that we live in a region, and a country, where people are incredibly invested in their health care system. We all have ideas about what could be improved, and we’ve all had experiences – or know someone who has – that have impacted how we think and feel about the care that’s available to us.

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We’ve reached a fork in the road where all of us involved in the health care system need to make important decisions about what the system will look like in the future. It’s a challenging but exciting time to be working in this sector. It’s our opportunity to collaborate with the people we serve to shape a healthier future for Canadians.