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Health priorities stay constant for next three years

Local health integration network pegs cardiovascular health, mental health, seniors issues and palliative care as key issues

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A lot has changed in Durham Region over the past three years, but the major health and aging concerns of the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) have not.

Speaking before Oshawa’s city council, Deborah Hammons, CEO of the Central East LHIN put down the priorities of the group for the next three years in the 2016-2019 Integrated Health Service Plan.

The service plan, the fourth since the LHIN was established in 2006, finds that despite investments in the four priority areas — cardiovascular health, mental health, seniors issues and palliative care – there is still work that needs to be done.

“We are feeling that those aims are still important for us to continue to look at,” she said.

The Central East LHIN accounts for more than 11 per cent of Ontario’s population, and that population continues to age, making these areas top priorities.

Despite the LHIN’s efforts, the area has the third highest demand on the province for long-term care, is near the bottom when it comes to the availability of palliative care and has the second highest instances of mental health issues in the province.

Palliative care was centred out as a particularly growing issue as Durham Region continues to age.

Hammond explained further initiatives will be aimed at addressing this issue, including seeking funding for palliative care teams to assist in the community and the development of a residential hospice, none of which currently exist in the region.