June 30 deadline for Northerners’ addictions strategies

NORTHERN ONTARIO—The North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN) is seeking  individuals for the new North East Mental Health and Addictions Collaborative.

Reporting to the North East LHIN CEO, the collaborative will develop a plan to implement the recommendations from Dr. Rush’s Addictions Review (released earlier this month), along with those outlined in a mental health Blueprint undertaken by Health Sciences North and North Bay Regional Health Centre earlier this year.

Shana Calixte, mental health, addiction and housing officer with the NE LHIN, explained that they are looking for a “mix of people” with a  variety of experience such as people with personal ‘lived experience’ as well as their family/caregivers, senior leaders working in both hospital and community mental health and addiction settings, First Nations/aboriginal/Metis peoples, francophones, primary care providers and addiction medicine providers.

“We want to select people that represent a vast diversity of the communities in Northeastern Ontario,” said Ms. Calixte.

In addition to developing a plan, the collaborative “will be a space for people to come together and discuss addiction and mental heath across the region,” said Ms. Calixte.

“We hope that the collaborative will review the documents (such as the North East LHIN Addiction Services Review) over the summer and then come together in the fall and put together a plan, followed by an implementation team and get tasks moving forward,” Ms. Calixte said.

The North East LHIN Addiction Services Review was presented by Dr. Brian Rush at the North East LHIN board of directors at their meeting earlier this month.

“Engaged by the North East LHIN, Dr. Rush undertook this comprehensive analysis of strengths, gaps, and challenges faced by Northerners accessing addiction services,” said a release from the North East LHIN. “Access, coordination and system sustainability are three themes of the report’s findings which are in keeping with the NE LHIN’s current priorities for enhanced patient care across Northeastern Ontario.”

The recommendations in the review include: planning—strengthen regional planning, ensure First Nations representation and bring hospital and community providers together to build a common vision that focuses on client needs; hospital/community—focus on collaborative care for the percentage of clients who require medical intervention, and support people primarily in their community and ensure that the transitions between hospital and community care are seamless; residential treatment—it is important that clients are carefully matched to the most appropriate care and ensure transition care plans are in place when clients return home; withdrawal management—enhance ‘in-house’ medical supports; addiction medicine—ensure that people accessing opioid medication assisted treatment have appropriate access to counselling services; and community treatment—invest in outreach, day/evening treatment programs and transportation.

Individuals interested in applying to be a part of the collaborative can visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/L3GKDMK to apply. Applications are due on June 30.