The health care needs of Canadians are changing. The old acute care model of health care delivery is neither efficient, nor effective. A hospital is not always the most appropriate place to receive care, nor is a physician always the most appropriate person to deliver that care.
Our health care system needs to shift away from that model to a system of health promotion, disease prevention, and health care delivery through multidisciplinary teams of health care professionals working together in a community clinic. The focus being early diagnosis and preventative care, intervening before a hospital stay is necessary.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s strategy, released last May, confirmed that the community, including schools, must be engaged in early identification of mental illness and in support systems for those who live with mental illness.
Community delivery of primary care was one of the five key objectives identified in the 2004 Health Accord between the federal Liberal government and provincial premiers. The aim of the Accord was to achieve real transformative change and sustainability for Canada’s publicly administered Healthcare System.
By focusing on the social determinants of health, such as poverty, housing, security, education, and proper nutrition, the community health care model can intervene early and work to keep people healthy, while at the same time monitoring those that are chronically ill; keeping them from deteriorating and ending up in hospital.
Hospitals are only one aspect of a much larger health care system. Establishing more community health care teams, who are connected to the community and its diverse needs, is critical to ensuring the future sustainability of our health care system.
Let us take the opportunity this Community Health Week to re-commit ourselves to the community care goal established in the 2004 Health Accord.
Dr. Hedy Fry
Liberal Health Critic
MP, Vancouver Centre