A wide-ranging report that outlined various projects and program updates for the Sun Country Health Region's board of directors was delivered by interim CEO Marga Cugnet on June 27 during their regular monthly business session at Tatagwa View, the region's head office in Weyburn.
The pace of surgical procedures in the region's two major hospitals, St. Joseph's in Estevan and Weyburn General, has been meeting the targets, Cugnet said. Most patients requiring surgery have been scheduled within a six-month window and other primary care goals are also being met.
The interim CEO said that one nurse practitioner position was filled during the past month and the leadership teams for the training in efficiency procedures, entitled LEAN, are moving along as planned as are shared services across the province which translates into savings for all health regions, especially on the procurement side.
As far as dealing with patients and residents, Cugnet said “there is a lot of work going on throughout the region, but we're getting staff to understand why certain procedures need to be done and there is still a lot of work to do.”
Board chairwoman Marilyn Charlton reported she had attended a meeting that outlined the progress being made toward the construction of a new health centre in Kipling and another meeting that focused on ambulance service for the Coronach district.
During her report, Cugnet pointed out that in terms of individuals and families in psychological distress, SCHR stood seventh out of 13 health districts in annual suicide incidents and as a province, Saskatchewan has the highest per capital rate of suicide in Canada. She added that a mental health social worker and physician from Estevan have established a reproductive mental health initiative for Estevan and area dealing with postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis mothers.
Sun Country is participating in a provincial pilot project for patients having to fill out forms, and evaluation of the efficiency, speed and importance of the information received. The pilot project involves Regina General Hospital, Moose Jaw Union Hospital, Sun Country's home care service and the Bengough Health Centre/Radville Marian Health Centre.
In Sun Country's case, five cases will be targeted as forms will be tracked from Sun Country rural west or home care to Regina General's 5F wing.
Cugnet also provided information on reduction of infections and injuries among both staff and clients.
When it came to the LEAN training (efficiency in the workplace), Cugnet noted that Sun Country has nine people registered for a LEAN leader certificate and there are 35 people enrolled in the LEAN training flight that began June 25. Each training module required five days of lessons and practical experiences. There are also three members of the human resources staff attending the sessions.
On the recruitment and retention side of the region, Cugnet had some good news for the second consecutive month since the arrival of new people into hard-to-fill positions again exceeded the number resigning or retiring.
She said also there continued to be challenges with recruitment and staffing emergency medical services personnel in rural areas. They had welcomed 15 new registered nurses plus another three senior assists (third year nursing students); four licensed practical nurses, one combined laboratory/X-ray technicial and two cooks.
Resignations during this same period included six RNs, (four casual), four LPNs (three casual) and one laboratory/X-ray technician, one dietitian and one out-of-scope management person.
In terms of recruitment of physicians in Estevan, Cugnet reported that three files are currently active as the city is hoping to attract two more general practitioners and one general practitioner/surgeon.
The region is also working closely with medical students and recently attended their residents retreat in Cypress Hills and came away with a locum contact list with some first-year residents. Recruitment personnel also attended the physical therapy career fair at the University of Saskatchewan in early June.
Nurses starting their six-week clinical placement (practicum) in July will be stationed in Arcola, St. Joseph's and Weyburn General hospitals.
The regional director of recruitment and retention also met with management teams from the Southeast Regional College regarding programs to develop continuing care aides and cooks. The concern is the delivery of the courses to rural areas for convenient student access. They have noted there is a critical shortage of workers in these job classifications.
Cugnet noted that Estevan physician Dr. Ed Tsoi is taking the lead in organizing an informational meeting with area physicians as the region works toward being included in the expansion of the family medicine program for new physicians into more rural locations. The steering group has met with the College of Medicine and the U of Saskatchewan and it was noted that Sun Country would need to hire a physician co-ordinator and administrative staff as part of the program if it is accepted. Cugnet said more formal word on the success or failure of these efforts will probably be better known sometime in early 2013 and if successful, the program would probably roll out in 2014.