Apart from the students who will graduate in Moose Factory on July 3 as Personal Support Workers (PSW), the biggest smile may be on the face of Heather Cranney.
That’s because Heather, of the Red Cross, has been instrumental in both developing and delivering a 27-week PSW program. Funded by the North East LHIN, the program has involved a team approach to an ongoing challenge of not enough PSWs along the Hudson and James Bay Coast to care for seniors.
The team working on the program includes: the NE LHIN, Red Cross, Moose Cree Education Authority, Mushkegowuk Employment and Training Services, Moose Cree First Nation, Peetabeck Education Authority, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, Fort Albany First Nation, supported by Northern College.
“Heather’s personal commitment to building a strong, community-based system of care, and her focus on organizing care around people, make her an excellent example of a Healthy Change Champion,” said Louise Paquette, CEO, North East LHIN, in naming Heather this month’s champion. “In addition to her work as a system navigator and her volunteer commitment to LHIN committees, Heather’s diligent work on the far-Northern PSW training program aligns with the LHIN’s priority to enhance access to care that is culturally appropriate.”
Heather has been a system navigator at the Canadian Red Cross, working out of North Bay Regional Health Centre, and will now serve as the First Nations’ Communities Health Development Lead for Red Cross. She previously was a manager of the Timmins and District Branch of the Canadian Red Cross. Throughout her 30-year career, Heather has always championed a strong community-based system of care and has worked tirelessly to help ensure health human resources are in place in Northeastern Ontario to strengthen this system.
“I’ve had so many ‘ah hah’ moments in my time as a system navigator,” said Heather. “The health care system is a maze and I think we all need a buddy to get through.” The North East LHIN is tackling this
issue by funding the work of system navigators in our hub hospitals, and a PATH (Priority Assistance to Transition Home) program to accompany the Northeast’s elderly return home after a hospital stay and get them settled with food with prescriptions filled.
As examples of positive transformation in action, Heather notes that in the last couple of years, community agencies now call each other for advice. The North East LHIN recently organized a Regional Community Support Services Network to improve access to care for Northerners. “Now we’re at the same table together,” said Heather. The vision, she said, is that the smaller agencies build capacity and strength and the larger agencies don’t lose touch with the grassroots.
“I see so far down the road – the potential, the opportunities,” says Heather. “The health service providers that work in the community are open to evolving. It’s a cultural shift that we’re open to. That’s really exciting. And the NE LHIN is very supportive of helping that change happen.”
Heather has served as a volunteer on various NE LHIN committees and efforts, including:
- Member, North East Regional Community Support Services Network
- Member, Non-Urgent Patient Transfer Advisory Committee
- Member of both the Timmins and Temiskaming Health Links
- Member of the PSO Task Force Working Group (2010)
- Member of the NE LHIN Health Human Resources Planning Steering Committee.
“The future looks bright,” said Heather. “The idea that the LHIN has asked me to go on their journey to transform health care along the James and Hudson Bay Coast is wonderful.”
“I see a chance to advocate. We all know I talk loud and strong.”
Up to 14 students will graduate in July from the culturally appropriate PSW program in Moose Factory, with another eight students scheduled to graduate from their PSW program later this summer in Fort Albany.
Background Information on Healthy Change Champion Award:
· Who is Eligible? North East LHIN health service providers (HSPs), employees and volunteers of providers, as well as, health care leaders, community leaders, and other Northerners who are contributing to building a stronger health care system in the North East.
· What kind of work does the NE LHIN Healthy Change Champion recognize? Those who are transforming the health care system so that it becomes more patient/client-focused, integrated, and easier to access. These are people or organizations who are reaching out to others in the course of their work to improve the system. Their work may be small or large in scope, but it’s significant in that it is making a difference in people’s lives.
· Who can nominate? Any Northerner can suggest a Healthy Change Champion. We just ask that you tell us in one or two paragraphs why you believe the person or organization deserves this recognition. Send your nomination to email@example.com or 555 Oak Street East, Third Floor, North Bay, ON, P1B 8E3.
· How are they picked? Nominees are reviewed by our senior team. Consideration is also given to individuals and organizations who are advancing the care for special population groups within the North East LHIN including seniors, Aboriginal/First Nations/Métis, and Francophones.