Ross-Zuj hopes for major changes to LHIN reporting

Municipalities here are going to be working with the Water­loo Wellington Local Health Integration Network in a whole different way if Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj has her way.

“Something had to change,” the warden said, adding her thoughts about the network’s presentations to local councils left her thinking, “I don’t need this spin. You are wasting my time.”

She was referring to the delegations at municipal councils every four months by Chief Executive Officer Sandra Ham­ner and board chair Kathy Durst.

Those highlighted what the network has been doing and how everything in the health care system is getting better.

Ross-Zuj said in order to find out just what munici­palities could obtain in working with the network, she met with Hanmer and Durst and said they were agreeable to making changes in the way they work with Wellington County’s councils. Then Ross-Zuj called all the mayors together and learn­ed they had been disinterested in the presen­ta­tions, too, and are willing to make changes.

Now, Ross-Zuj said, the mayors and local councils will be considering opportunities to get into programs the net­work is offering. She said many felt the network is just about hospitals, but there is much more to it than that.

She added the network has been working in ways councils had not yet con­sid­ered.

“This is a whole new shift. We haven’t been looking at it in that way – but the LHIN has,” she said. She added that, in particu­lar, she is working on programs for seniors.

Ross-Zuj said the idea was to get the mayors together so they can all understand exactly what can be used in their com­munities. She added there is much more communication needed so seniors know what programs are available, and how to get into them. Councils that are informed will help in the communities.

The mayors have all agreed and Ross-Zuj said the consen­sus is, “We want to have that voice … We’re trying some­thing different in Welling­ton.”

Ross-Zuj said the way the system will now work is some­one on the staff of each muni­cipality will receive infor­ma­tion from the network, in­clud­ing one designated person from the county, Laura Holtom, who will report to the seniors com­mittee. Others will report to desig­nated committees in the municipalities.

“She will have contacts in every community,” Ross-Zuj said of Holtom.

The warden said if the new approach works, “When LHIN comes back [to Wellington coun­cils] we’re on top of things. If our pilot project works, then you see results.”

Ross-Zuj said the network has cash for such things as recreation to promote active lifestyles, as well as for planning, through trails.

“It’s all part of the LHIN agenda,” she said. “Most see it as just hospitals.”

Ross-Zuj said if seniors know about various programs – for example, those that allow them to remain in their homes – they will use them.

“We can enhance our fund­ing and tap into them,” she said.

And, she added, “If we don’t see results, we’re back to ‘What do these guys [the LHINs] do?’ ”

Wellington North

Welling­ton North Mayor Mike Broomhead told his council of the mayors’ meeting and said it was a positive one.

As for choosing someone as the contact for the township, he said it could be a councillor or a staff member. “We don’t have to decided tonight.A lot of things came out of that meeting.”

He added, “There’s a lot of concerns out in the community. Hopefully we’ll be able to report back more when we decided who is going to be on that committee. It may give councils a bit more of the information as it is being released.”

Clerk Lori Heinbuch used the example of being able to take advantage of information on a program now being offered.

Councillor Dan Yake asked if the network is on board with the idea, and Broomhead said they are.

Heinbuch said they want to make sure the funding that is available other than the hos­pital funding for the muni­cipalities.

The contact person would be able to go through the information and determine if a municipality would benefit from a specific program.

Broomhead said the county initiated the proposal because it seemed there were a number of programs available and diff­erent forms of funding. He said the belief seemed to be that if those programs are available, they should be made available to all of the county.

“This way, everyone should be getting the same information and the same opportunities.”

He said it give council a chance to directly hear what is happening.

“Certainly for those who have hospitals in their com­munities, that’s their number one priority.”

Traditionally, he said, politicians at the local level have stayed out of health care issue. “But because of the concerns that have arisen, we felt we needed to be a little bit more involved. We’re not interfering with the operations of the LHIN board, or the hospital boards; it’s just another way of getting more direct information.”

In a subsequent memo to council, Chief Administrative Officer and Heinbuch wrote, “I have reviewed staff who would be available to take on this task and as our newly appointed Business Economic Manager has the financial-business background, forward and in­novative thinking that would be required for this contact person. And part of the job description requirements of his position is to obtain alternative sources of funding …”

So,Heinbuch recommended Dale Small as Wellington North’s contact for the Waterloo-Wellington network.