The power of partnerships to transform health care in Durham Region

Posted on Tuesday April 30, 2019
Tom McHugh

Creating a health-care system that meets the individual needs of patients and keeps people healthy depends on strong partnerships, beginning with individuals and families.

There are many examples of partnerships that are providing people in Durham Region with the opportunity for better health.

At Lakeridge Health’s R.S. McLaughlin Cancer Centre, partnerships are enabling individuals, like cancer survivor Sonja Shepherd, to receive all the services and support they need, close to home.

Beyond their immediate medical needs, people living with a cancer diagnosis have a range of mental health, emotional, spiritual and social needs that affect their quality of life. This was certainly Sonja’s experience. While Sonja received world-class treatment and care for a rare blood cancer, she also received support with her emotional and wellness needs from Hearth Place, an Oshawa-based community charity that provides emotional, spiritual peer support and wellness programs for those living with cancer.

“During the fog of chemotherapy, I remember I had a lot of questions and went through many emotions,” said Sonja Shepherd. “I wanted to know if what I was feeling was normal.”

Moved by her experience, today Sonja helps others living with cancer as the member services co-ordinator at Hearth Place. She says, the care she received at Lakeridge Health helped her stay strong during treatment and, with Hearth Place’s assistance, she was able to transition home and find a new “normal” life.

“I believe that one can have a really good, positive life after cancer, because the experience enables a person, like myself, to see things with a different eye and heart,” said Shepherd.

The “Hospital to Home” (H2H) program is another partnership that connects people in the emergency department (ED) with community mental health and addictions supports. A collaboration with Durham Mental Health Services and Canadian Mental Health Association Durham, the H2H program is often the lifeline to people who come to the ED in crisis. Over 3,500 Durham residents have benefited from the H2H since the program began in 2013.

People living with chronic kidney disease spend a lot of time in the hospital — typically four visits a week — for life-saving treatment. This reality can take an enormous toll on individuals and their loved ones. For these individuals, the ability to receive dialysis at home is life-changing. Through our partnerships, with home-care providers and long-term care homes, nearly 150 individuals in Durham Region are receiving dialysis in the comfort of their own homes.

To create a health-care system that puts people first and supports healthy communities, Lakeridge Health will be building new partnerships in the year ahead. When we work together and combine our expertise and resources, everyone in Durham Region will receive the very best care, right in their own communities.

We look forward to updating the community about these and other innovative partnerships soon.

— Tom McHugh is the executive vice-president patient services, regional vice-president cancer services, Lakeridge Health