Partnership between Primary Health Providers and Surgeons improves access to mental health care

Posted on Friday May 31, 2019

Durham Region – On Saturday, May 25, approximately 70 primary care providers, surgeons and other health care partners gathered at the second annual “Innovative Surgical Care Close to Home” event to discuss strategies to improve access to mental health services for surgery patients in Durham Region.

Presenters represented a variety of disciplines including surgery, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, anesthesia, and community mental health. The topics focused on understanding the relationship between the physical and mental health needs of patients who require surgery and how primary care and specialists can work as a team to improve health outcomes and quality of life. A key theme was how to identify and support patients with depression, anxiety and other mental health needs and managing opioid addiction and chronic pain before and after surgery.

“Many people encounter barriers when they try to access mental health services,” said Dr. Adwoa Amamoo, Family Physician and Surgical Assistant at Ajax Pickering Hospital. “This event goes a long way to increasing, not only learning, but also problem solving and partnership among primary care providers and surgeons. In the end, patients benefit from better access to care.”

“Mental health permeates all aspects of health care,” said Dr. Placide Rubabaza, Obstetrician Gynecologist at Ajax Pickering Hospital. “By working as a team, primary care providers and specialists can provide comprehensive care to patients. The partnerships that we are building today will enable us to be more responsive to all of our patients’ needs.”

Within Durham Region, there are several transformative health system collaborations that are providing patients with a more seamless experience that we can build upon. The Shoulder Centre at Lakeridge Health is one such model, whereby more than 150 primary care providers across Durham Region have already partnered with the Centre to provide patients with quicker access to an accurate diagnosis and treatment throughout the entire continuum of care, and in their own community.

“It is crucial to understand the impact of mental health on patients before and after surgery,” said Dr. Stephen Gallay, Orthopaedic Surgeon and co-Founder of The Shoulder Centre, at the Ajax Pickering Hospital. “Mental health is health. It is as important as a patient’s physical presentation and can have a significant impact on one’s surgical outcome.”

About Lakeridge Health

Lakeridge Health is Durham Region’s acute health care provider. With five hospitals, four emergency
departments, a residential treatment centre and more than a dozen community health care locations, the
new Lakeridge Health is working to provide the best experience for patients and their families. Home to the
R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre and Pinewood Centre, Lakeridge Health also provides
regional mental health, eye care and nephrology services.

With a committed and dedicated team of more than 5,400 employees, more than 760 physicians and more
than 1,600 volunteers, Lakeridge Health provides care to the more than 650,000 people living and working
in Durham Region.

Lindsay Cochrane
Media Relations Specialist, Lakeridge Health
T. 905.576.8711 ext.34319
Cell 905.242.2801