Albanese’s been busy: new family health teams announced

Laura Albanese, our MPP, has had a busy week. Yesterday she announced that the new Humber River Regional Hosptial and the West Park Healthcare Centre will get ‘family health teams’ to “provide increased access to care for 40,000 residents.” Earlier this week, she announced that West Park will be expanding.

Family Health Teams are supposed to more closely integrate doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners to improve the quality of care. They also offer extended office hours and after-hours care. The government says that this reduces costs while improving care by diverting patients from emergency rooms.

West Park Healthcare Centre to expand

The Ontario government announced new funding for one of the major healthcare centres in the Weston area. West Park will receive a new building, 51 new beds, major renovations, and a new physical plant.

West Park is at Weston and Jane and provides rehabilitation, community living, and complex continuing care. It also conducts research and other programs, generally for seniors and those living with disabilities.

Laura Albanese, our MPP, said in a press release

Improving the availability and quality of the local health care system for the residents of York South Weston is something that I’m particularly proud of. The West Park Healthcare Centre construction and renovation project clearly demonstrates our government’s commitment to accessible and excellent health care for all.

The press release also touted the benefits for Weston and Mount Dennis: “When construction commences, the investment will be an economic stimulus to the Weston and Mount Dennis communities, attracting more professional and higher paying jobs and create economic stimulus for construction trades.

Nunziata and the Board of Health

The Toronto Board of Health makes some important decisions regarding health matters in Toronto. A letter from Councillor Frances Nunziata questioning the efficacy of fluoridation was received by the Board in January. The councillor’s letter made some unsubstantiated suggestions that fluoridation of Toronto’s water may not only be ineffective but actually harmful. This is the same sort of unscientific nonsense that surfaces from time to time and is sometimes taken seriously with potentially devastating effects.

The anti-flouridation movement seems to have been spearheaded by some right-wing, tin-foil hatted groups. These people equated fluoridation with government interference and other socialist plots. Fluoride is a poison, according to them, and doesn’t belong in drinking water. They forget that fluoridation (like chlorination of water) has huge and proven benefits.

Incidentally, removing fluoride would most affect the poor and the young. Not a great idea for Weston. The City of Waterloo voted to remove fluoride from the water supply last year after an extensive fear-mongering campaign led to a narrow referendum vote against fluoridation. Dentists in that city now fear an epidemic of cavities and gum disease.

Thankfully, our Board of Health bases its decisions on scientific evidence and voted unanimously to recommend continued fluoridation of Toronto’s drinking water. We hope our councillor can think twice before giving credence to similar dangerous groups.

An MRI Machine For HRRH Church Street Site

Humber River Regional Hospital‘s Church Street site will be getting a new MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine later this year. The machine will operate for 40 hours a week and presumably will operate for longer hours if the need increases. The existing machine operates 24/7 and performs 7900 scans annually at the Finch site while the new machine will perform about 3100 and save Weston residents from travelling to the Finch site. It is assumed that the machine will move to the new 1.6 million square foot site at Keele and the 401 in 2015.

This being a provincial election year, no doubt there will be similar announcements coming from other provincial ministries. The press release for this announcement helpfully contains boilerplate quotes from prominent area Liberal MPPs, the Minister of Health and health care executives.

Jane St Hub official opening

The Jane Street Hub will have its official opening on January 20th at 10 am. Several celebrities will be there, including the Minister of Health, Deb Matthews, and Matt Galloway, host of Metro Morning on the people’s radio.

The Jane Street Hub is a one-stop health and social services agency. Among other services, visitors can get

  • Health care
  • Settlement services
  • Child minding and parenting help
  • Women’s services
  • Youth programs
  • Counselling

The Hub has been in the works since 2007 and first opened its doors in October. It is at 1541 Jane St. All are welcome.

Humber River Hospital Death Rate Improving

The Canadian Institute for Health Information measures hospital mortality rates in Canada and according to their latest statistics, Humber River Regional Hospital has steadily improved–to the point where this year, it has a lower than average death rate. The institute uses a benchmark of 100 to rate hospital mortality rates, and this year HRHH scored 96, having scored 106 and 117 in 2009 and 2008  respectively. This statistic is the average of all three locations of the hospital.

Having recently been a patient at the Church Street site I can attest that although the building is overcrowded and out of date, the personnel seem caring and competent. In fact our local version of HRRH is a community gem which provides employment and a valuable service to Weston residents.

Unfortunately, the Church St site will soon be closed. HRRH is amalgamating its three campuses into one facility at Keele and Wilson, at Downsview Park. Construction will probably start in late 2011. Little information is available about what will happen to the Church St site.

Coroner now investigating In Touch retirement home

The Toronto Star reports that the Ontario coroners’ office will be investigating the In Touch retirement home in Weston.

In Touch was the subject of an undercover investigation by the Star that revealed terrible maltreatment of residents. Three residents may have died from starvation, today’s report says. Residents’ money also may have been stolen.

The Ontario coroner’s office is investigating the suspicious deaths of three elderly residents of a controversial west Toronto retirement home.

The coroner’s probe comes after a Star investigation detailed allegations that residents Edith Farrell, 80, and Danny Henderson, 74, died in hospital earlier this year after suffering severe malnutrition at In Touch Retirement Living.

After the story ran, family and friends of a third resident, Nellie Dineno, 83, came forward with allegations that she too had serious health problems that went untreated before her death in late July.