Drummond Report charts a clear path for the future of health care

To the Expositor:

Last week, economist Don Drummond tabled his report to the provincial government. It is arguably one of the most anticipated and sweeping reports in the history of Ontario’s public service.

The report makes over 300 recommendations on how the government can tackle a $16 billion deficit. At the core of Drummond’s recommendations is a roadmap for overhauling how government services are delivered to ensure those services are affordable and of the highest quality so that they may be preserved for future generations.

When it comes to health care, the Drummond Report is calling for major changes in how services are provided and funded. In describing the changes required, the report states: “we seek: a shift towards health promotion rather than after-the-problem treatment; a system centered on patients rather than hospitals …Reform must shift the system from one built mainly for acute care to one built mainly for chronic care.”

The Board and Administration of Health Sciences North/Horizon Santé-Nord (HSN) agree with the direction set forth in the Drummond Report. For us, the report is a validation of the direction we’ve taken in transforming health care services at our institution.

Over the past 24 months, HSN has made outpatient care, the management of chronic diseases, and good health promotion a priority. By helping people better manage their conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease, you greatly reduce the likelihood those patients will have to be admitted to hospital, which is the most intensive and expensive form of health care.

The former Memorial Hospital has been transformed with this concept of health care in mind. Now called the Sudbury Outpatient Centre, the facility houses our Diabetes Complex Care Service, our Bariatric Assessment and Referral Service, and our integrated Breast Screening and Assessment Service, to name a few. Patients come regularly to meet with a wide range of clinicians such as nurses, nutritionists and physiotherapists to have their conditions treated and monitored and then return home. Because their health conditions are being well managed, they enjoy a better quality of life and are able to live independently.

The Sudbury Mental Health and Addictions Centre on Cedar Street is another outpatient facility we created to help clients stay healthy and lead productive lives. These initiatives build on work we have done in areas like stroke prevention clinics, cardiac rehabilitation, haven and hemophilia and chronic

renal failure programs.

The Drummond Report also affirms what we have been saying for a long time about one of the most pressing health care challenges in Greater Sudbury and the province: care of the elderly and Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients. The report concludes that the best care for the elderly is care provided as close to home as possible and recommends more resources be allocated to community-based care.

By placing greater emphasis on good health promotion, outpatient care, chronic disease management, and community-based care, we can have a health care system that is responsive, effective and affordable. It will preserve our acute care services and reduce wait times in key areas such as the emergency department.

The Drummond Report has presented a roadmap for a health care system of the future. HSN is already well down that road, and will continue to explore ways to improve health care with our patients at the centre of all we do.

Russ Boyles, Chair

Health Sciences North Board of Directors