It’s transition time at the South East Grey CHC

·6 min read

A year dominated by COVID-19 did not keep the South East Grey CHC from meeting all of its goals for the year, the annual meeting last week heard.

Among the report items came tributes to executive director Allan Madden on his retirement as CEO. He has held the role since the organization began – and Tuesday, June 22 marked the 10th anniversary meeting.

Alex Hector is the new CEO. Board Chair Jane deJong also stepped down at meeting’s close after almost a decade on the board. Clinic Director Penny Pedlar NP is also retiring on Oct. 1.

After the annual meeting, a board meeting followed.

As Ms de Jong joked, annual meetings are full of numbers and stats – from patient contacts (50,431) to financial statements.

Perhaps one of the moments of the most impact, despite an imperfect internet connection, was the sharing of two client stories from a new and innovative intervention program for people who have become addicted to opioids, commonly prescribed for chronic pain, and also available illegally.

A man who worked in construction and had severe pain after a back injury, went through the pilot program, which allows a non-addictive drug to be given locally rather than in Owen Sound.

He has now stopped using opioids and several of his friends have entered the program on his recommendation.

The less successful story was of a single mother who was on the program. She was not able to stay the course – this time – and instead had resorted to selling the substitute drug. But she is still connected with the staff at the CHC, said Julia Peart, a nurse-practitioner who is involved in the narcotics reduction program.

The Centre showed a small surplus of $16,971, which can be put in building reserves, the representative for auditor Baker Tilly said.

All its funding from the Ministry was spent – it must be returned otherwise. The CHC carries long-term debt, which is now at just over $3 million, for the purchase of its Markdale facility.

Taking part in the annual meeting, as well as board members and staff were MPP Bill Walker, MP Alex Ruff and municipal representatives from Grey Highlands and Southgate.

One observation from clinic director Penny Pedlar is that she doesn’t see a return post-COVID to an in-person only model of care. She said virtual appointments would be continued as they suit many people.

Ms Pedlar will be staying on for special projects following her retirement, but Julia Peart will be taking over as clinic director. In a similar way, CEO Allan Madden will be staying on to supervise the Dundalk medical clinic project for some time.

That Dundalk clinic now has a signed MOU with the following agencies who will offer services there:

-Canadian Mental Health Association, Grey- Bruce;

-Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services;

-South West Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre;

-Grey Bruce Public Health

-Waterloo- Wellington LHIN Care Co-ordinator.

Grey County has also expressed interest in offering social services and newcomer services.

PROJECTS

Renovations were done at the Erskine CHC site in Dundalk, with an Agri-Spirit grant of $25,000 for kitchen renovations and an Infrastructure grant supplied almost $240,000 for further renovations.

A $275,000 planning grant was received for a new medical clinic building planned for Dundalk.

Renovations were completed in Markdale, and a community garden was added.

YUM (Your Unique Meals) launched in February to help those living in poverty who needed special diets. When the pandemic hit, the program expanded and received external funding to provide five meals a week plus fresh food. It also served as a check-in for isolated seniors, and a delivery mechanism, including for the form-filling service for income tax returns, which must be filed in order to get some government benefits. In-person programs had to be placed on hold, while Tai Chi and yoga were offered over Zoom.

Chapman House hospice and the CHC agreed to start sharing payroll, accounting and IT services to reduce costs.

NUMBERS

The CHC has a funding agreement with the Ministry of Health. In the world of health care, as full as any other of acronyms, it’s called an MSAA or Multi-Sector Service Accountability Agreement.

That agreement sets the goals referred to in the opening paragraph.

Where the target for 2021 for individuals served was about 5,600, the CHC’s figures show 6,115. For “service provider interactions” the coal was about 32,000 and the CHC reported 50,431. Group interactions had a goal of about 700 and the CHC reported about 1,661.

A clinic was held for COVID-19 vaccines for those over 80 which vaccinated more than 500 people in one day.

A meal program delivered more than 10,000 meals, said the program review.

In addition to primary care – the CHC is to focus on cancer screening and flu vaccination and in this area also, it exceeded the target set. The one minor exception was an inter-professional approach to diabetes care involving referrals to two other allied health services – which was 90 percent instead of 95 percent because of the way COVID affected health care practice.

Board of Directors members over the 2020-2021 term were: Larry Mann (vice-chair), Rick Byers, Aakash Desai, Jim Harrold, Gord Lawson, Janet Pounder, Captain Harpreet Bal and John Woodbury.

Recognized with the provincial Ontario Volunteer Service Award were: 10 years – Jane deJong; 5 years – Jim Harrold, Don Nickell, Della Goetz and Anne Marie Lee and Youth Awards (two or more years) – Solenn Shute and Lachlan Shute.

A new election was postponed due to COVID and terms altered to ensure various members terms did not all end in the same year for continuity.

COVID ADAPTATION

The clinic moved to having two providers in at all times to help the most vulnerable or those requiring in-person assessments, while others worked from home over the phone. However, the Dundalk clinic was closed down for some time after what the report called “concerning numbers of COVID infections in the community.” The report said the difficulties included early lack of PPE, the clinic layout, handling screening properly and the number of pregnant staff. (The report notes there were 10 maternity leaves.)

At the time of report Dundalk was back open four days a week, and Chatsworth one day a week.

Two nurse-practitioners from the CHC have been re-deployed to ICU in Owen Sound in caring for COVID patients there.

In addition to the one-day clinic for 80-plus, there are ongoing vaccine clinics at different locations depending on supply.

STAFF UPDATE

Clinic director Penny Pedlar reported on personnel. Dr. Morrison, a psychiatrist is available two days per month for assessments. Dr. R. Shepherd, a psychologist, is at the clinic weekly. Dr. C. Shepherd, his wife, has helped at the clinics in Markdale and Dundalk. Dr. Krista McKee will return from maternity leave in September – Dr. Will Gott has been covering her patients. Dr. Terry Smith works in complex medicine and pain management with NP Julia Peart. He has an interest in Bariatric medicine and this is being explored as a new program for the CHC.

Dr. Dan Eckmeier started after the retirement of Dr. McIntosh. Dr. Ramsha Khan will start in July to assume Dr. Rod MacNeill’s patients. Natalie Grant is the clinic chiropodist and runs the Diabetic Foot Care Clinic through the LHI.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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