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Western Health Community Partnership Engagement sessions being held

Coun. Laura Aylward discusses health care at the Stephenville town council meeting on Thursday.
Coun. Laura Aylward discusses health care at the Stephenville town council meeting on Thursday. - Frank Gale

Coun. Laura Aylward said at the regular general meeting of the Stephenville town council last Thursday she was impressed with a recent Western Health Community Partnership Engagement session.

Held at Days Inn in Stephenville on Sept. 12, she attended on behalf of the West Coast Health Care Action Committee and said there were about 25 representatives from the community.

Cindy Davis, president and chief executive officer of Western Health, said the session is part of community engagement cycles Western Health is conducting in seven communities that are catchment areas throughout the region.

The Community Partner Information Sessions contribute towards shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges for health and community services that exist in communities throughout the Western Region and assist with improving communication processes.

Davis said the Board of Trustees of Western Health is committed to community participation and engagement and that’s why, in addition to this year, similar sessions were held in 2010 and 2014.

She said it’s all about how they can all work better together.

Davis said Bryson Webb, chair of the Western Health Board, usually opens the sessions welcoming community partners and talking about the broad determinants of health and keeping residents healthy.

As the new chief executive officer, Davis follows by highlighting the three strategic issues Western Health has been working on and will continue to work on until 2020. These include: enhancement of mental health and addictions prevention; enhancing programs and services for older adults; and enhancing primary health care services.

“It’s all about improvements to primary health care,” she said.

They then break out into roundtable discussions led by a board or staff member on how collaboration is working for Western Health partners.

Davis said an evaluation and feedback has been done at each session with some very positive comments received so far.

Aylward told her fellow council members she was impressed with a statistic Davis gave that 80 per cent of people to the hospital emergency department have a family doctor.

Davis said they don’t know the exact number in the region but are confident it’s pretty high.

Aylward said during the session she also learned that there is some ongoing recruitment for several doctors in the region.

Dr. Dennis Rashleigh, vice-president of medical services for Western Health, said as an organization they have been very successful in the last two years in relation to recruitment.

He said one of the things they did was look at a different model using nurse practitioners in rural areas.

Rashleigh said at the clinic in Jeffreys they had 11 physicians in a span of 10 years and while not as many as that there was turnover in St. George’s as well.

“Having nurse practitioners with ties to the community is a well-received model according to our feedback and is meeting the needs of the population in most cases,” he said.

The community partner sessions have been held in Stephenville, Corner Brook and Hawkes Bay with others scheduled for Burgeo, Deer Lake, Port aux Basques and Rocky Harbour.

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