Grand Falls – Windsor Community Healthcare Coalition Update
Operating as “an independent committee of citizens supported by the town,” the Grand Falls-Windsor Community Healthcare Coalition provides Council with advice and direction as the provincial government rolls out its 10-year Health Accord Plan. The Health Accord, commissioned by the province, provides a blueprint for a reimagined health care system for the province with the intent of providing a sustainable health care system that is responsive to the needs of the population.
The Coalition was formed in late 2021 at the request of Mayor Barry Manuel. This volunteer seven-member Coalition is chaired by Cyril Farrell and is made up of Allan Bradley, a retired health care executive, Marg Power, a retired ICU nurse, Ruth Down Robinson, a retired educator, Dr. David Sutherland, a retired urologist, Councillor Holly Dwyer, and Reg Hamilton, a former communications/newspaper editor.
“I think the Coalition is very well-rounded,” says Farrell who has served on numerous other community committees over the years, including as Chair of the Central Health Authority Board of Trustees. “I see our committee as an advisory group to the Town and when appropriate, being advocates for the healthcare system in Grand Falls-Windsor.”
“The committee is working diligently to understand each recommendation made in the Health Accord and what potential effect it would have on our community,” says Mayor Barry Manuel. “The idea was to recruit people who are knowledgeable about healthcare; people who can gather information to help Council form its position. I’ve been extremely impressed with their effort and dedication thus far.”
Since its formation last year, the Coalition has gathered a lot of information, focusing on five key areas. These include: the Center of Excellence for Aging, community collaborative health teams, hospital services, the one provincial healthcare board, and physician recruitment and retention.
The Coalition recognize that while there are many concerns within the Health Accord, there are also opportunities for the Town to pursue. Farrell says, “Given today’s technologies, the services required to support one health system for the province do not all have to be located in St. John’s or any other one location. We have reviewed, in detail, all available information regarding the one health authority for the province and have met with transitional CEO Mr. David Diamond. We have identified a number of opportunities in this area and have advised the Town accordingly.”
One concern that Farrell does have is what impact creating a sustainable healthcare system may have on the hospital and healthcare system in Grand Falls-Windsor. His committee, along with the Town Council, has met with Dr. Patrick Parfrey and Sister Elizabeth Davis, co-chairs of the Health Accord NL, Mr. David Diamond, Transitional CEO leading to one provincial health
authority, Health Minister Tom Osbourne, Andree Robichaud, CEO of Central Health, and numerous doctors.
“We recognize that efficiencies need to be found in the health system to ensure it is sustainable, and unnecessary duplication is not the way forward,” says Farrell. “However, we want to do our part in making sure that the decisions are based on the right data and that we are left with a quality health care system for our citizens.”
Given the magnitude of the Health Accord and its potential impacts to Grand Falls-Windsor and the region, the Coalition has established three sub-committees to better share the effort required: Recruitment and Retention, Hospital Services and Community Health Teams, and Governance related to one health board.
Councillor Holly Dwyer, who serves on the Recruitment and Retention sub-committee, says, “The Town recognizes that it has a strategic role to play in supporting Central Health’s efforts in physician recruitment and retention. Our sub-committee, in collaboration with Central Health’s Community Advisory Committee, Physician Recruiters, and Shalloway, has been working to support all efforts to recruit physicians and welcome new residents to our community.”
The Coalition, with the support of the Town, will continue its work for the foreseeable future. Its work is especially important during this time when the state of our health care services is making headlines daily. As the provincial government considers the recommendations of the Health Accord, the Grand Falls-Windsor Healthcare Coalition will continue to be very engaged with those decision makers and all health care professionals who can help to inform its work.
If any member of the public is interested in offering advice to the Coalition, based on the Health Accord NL and its Blueprint for Implementation, you can contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chair, Grand Falls-Windsor Community Healthcare Coalition
Communications Officer, Town of Grand Falls-Windsor
709-489-0173 | 709-689-3682