Community engagement has been a top priority for me in my time as Supervisor for the
Niagara Health System. Everyone in the community who wishes to offer input into the delivery of healthcare services should be able to do so. Since last August I have heard from far more than 2,000 people from our region by email or by face-to-face meetings.
Following the release of my Interim Report and Recommendations on May 3rd, the community’s interest in healthcare has continued, and I have received additional feedback about the proposed directions. You will recall my proposed recommendations call for a new site to be built in the South, replacing outdated facilities; the consolidation of obstetrics and paediatrics to the North for the shorter term and permanent placement at the South Site when built; to begin the process to select a permanent CEO and Chief of Staff; and a new process for the selection of a New Board. I am also calling on the existing and new leadership of NHS to supercharge the culture of caring, and ensure the code of conduct is well-known to all. Many of the opinions I have received and heard on this plan are extremely positive, and though we will never reach a perfect consensus, I am encouraged by the community feedback I am receiving.
An important element of our community engagement process came to a close at the end of last week. To ensure that I had a reliable, scientific sample of each of Niagara’s 12 communities, a professional polling firm has contacted over 1,000 households and asked for their opinion on the key directions in the draft report. Polling is important because it gives a randomized sample of what people in the Region are thinking about this plan, and does so with tried and true methods and sample size so that the findings are reliable and generalizable. Research suggests that those that are inclined to write in, or make their opinions known in the media, are the individuals who are most engaged, and it is essential they be heard from. As the NHS serves all of Niagara, I used polling to hear from as many as possible, including those who may not be able or feel inclined to write in to me by email. I anticipate to have the results of the polling in the coming weeks. As stated my plan is to continue the consultation process until mid-June and then complete the process of finalizing my report and recommendations no later than June 30th.
After taking some time to process the results of the polling exercise, and all of the other feedback I have received from interested individuals, I will also ask the Mayors of South Niagara to inform me of where they are at in the process of identifying a mutually acceptable site for the proposed New South Niagara hospital. Provided these deliberations are concluded, I will review their input and hope to include my siting recommendation in my final report. I anticipate making final recommendations to the Minister of Health by the end of June, and at that time I will also make the final report and the results of the polling exercise public.
Thank you to all those who have made their opinion known and who have participated in this very important community engagement exercise. Again I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our NHS leadership team and to all staff, physicians and volunteers for their ongoing commitment to the quality of care and caring for our patients.