March 11, 2013
By Kevin Weedmark
The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region continues work on a needs assessment of the Moosomin area, and the work should be completed this spring.
Holly Hodgson, who is Program director at the Southeast Integrated Care Centre and also chairs the steering committee for the needs assessment, said most of the work for the needs assessment is done.
The RQHR approved the needs assessment after the Moosomin and District Health Care Foundation suggested a review needs to take place to determine if the SEICC has enough beds to meet the needs of the area it covers.
Hodgson said most of the work is done for the needs assessment.
"We finished the local consultations in January, we've done an extensive review of the reports that are available to us through census data, and other types of data," she said. "We've been looking at both census data and Saskatchewan Health covered population -we believe that the numbers in the covered population are more accurate."
Saskatchewan Health publishes population statistics based on the number of people in each community who have health cards.
She said the committee tried to cover all the local communities in the consultation process.
"We contacted the members of the foundation and asked them if they had people who would come meet with us. We met with them as a group.
"We asked those same foundation members to spread the word on an online consultation.
"The questions on the online survey were the same as what we asked in our community consultations.
"We asked about their experiences with the health care system, what would be the priority for health care in their communities, and we asked about access to health services in their communities.
"We heard people want to ensure they will have health care access close to home-health care meaning everything from home care to podiatrist, to nurse practitioners. We found that some want to be more educated about their health care."
She said that since the community consultations, a consultant has been busy processing the data.
Hodgson said the committee is waiting on a couple of reports from Saskatchewan Health before wrapping up the needs assessment.
"Because these reports are going to be released shortly from Sask Health, we thought we would be remiss if we did our report before they were released," she said. "One is on home care services and one is on the health status of rural people. We want to make sure we include all the relevant information."
Hodgson said one area that is proving difficult is determining appropriate bed numbers in health facilities, both because of conflicting research on what numbers are appropriate on a population basis, and because of the fact the area covered by the Moosomin health facilities is always changing.
"There's different research and literature on how many beds are needed to serve a given population, and we looked at different approaches," she said.
"There's a big problem determining what population is served from Moosomin. How do you draw the line?
"Part of our trouble is our catchment area is continually changing. We haven't been able to draw that number together.
"We can show this is what our catchment area was in 2008 and this is what it is today. We don't know what it will be in the future."
Hodgson said it appears patients have been coming to Moosomin from centres where services have been limited, but have been getting their health care back home when services are restored.
"Anecdotally, people are seeking services where there is a stable service to be found and Moosomin is fortunate to have had a stable service for a long time.
"Six or seven years ago, Virden was in trouble, and patients were coming to Moosomin from that direction. Now things have stabilized in Virden and we have less people coming from that direction, but more coming from other directions.
"Our catchment area from other communities can change-it can increase when there are problems there and it can decrease when things are more stable.
"Anecdotally, when we see patients from those directions, they want to access services at home if they're going to be available there again.
"When things do stabilize in those communities, however, it takes time to build people's trust again. We saw that in Virden.
"Right now we're getting a lot from Redvers-we get a lot from the south."
What has she learned through the process?
"One of the things that surprises me every time I talk to people is how much they know about their health care and how much they care about their health care," she said.
She added that she has enjoyed the process.
"People have been very honest, they show a lot of passion and they really care," she said. "They came to the process with open minds to come up with ideas and solutions and what they see as issues. The help of everyone who has been involved has been invaluable."
At a recent meeting of the steering committee, a few more questions were raised that need to be answered.
"We think we're about three quarters of the way done," said Hodgson. "On Friday, we came up with more questions we have to unearth.
"We will ask to be on the agenda for the June board meeting to present our report to the board at that point."
In proposing the needs assessment to the RQHR last summer, the Moosomin and District Health Care Foundation cited a need to review all the health care services in the area, including SEICC, to determine if they are adequate to meet the needs of the area.
"I've always said if we had another 10 long-term beds it would really take the pressure off seniors having to go to Wolseley. If we could get 10 acute care beds, that would be a big improvement, and if we could get more recovery beds so our talented doctors could do more surgeries, that would really benefit the region," MDHCF chair Bill MacPherson said at the time.
The SEICC has 58 long-term care beds and 27 acute care beds.
When the needs assessment was approved, RQHR's then-CEO Dwight Nelson told the World-Spectator that he believed the region should move forward with a needs assessment.
"Their bottom line request was to say we think it's time for a needs assessment, and I completely agree," Nelson said at the time.
"There are two things that support the idea of a needs assessment-the growth going on in your area for one thing, and secondly because of the medical staff situation you are providing services to quite a range outside of Moosomin."
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