Board of Health Monthly Meeting Highlights - March 2017
Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/March 1, 2017 — The Board of Health for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) held its regular monthly meeting in Belleville today.
Regional Efforts Continue to Address Opioid Crisis
HPEPH continues to work with community partners to develop a regional strategy to address the opioid crisis. Recent activities included the hosting of a Continuing Medical Education session for local physicians and allied healthcare professionals which aimed to support the management of patients on opioids, and generated discussion about potential ideas and opportunities to address the opioid crisis at community and regional levels. In addition, on February 27 HPEPH joined other key regional health care and emergency management stakeholders in an emergency preparedness and response table top exercise to practice and evaluate local response to a potential sudden increase in opioid related deaths caused by use of illicit opioids. Moving forward, discussion will continue with the South East LHIN and first response partners to determine how local stakeholders can best support one another when responding to this crisis.
Plans Continue to Pilot Integrated Health Clinic in Marmora
HPEPH recently met with Marmora’s municipal representatives to identify how Public Health can best meet the needs of this rural community with resources available. The potential solution envisions an integrated public health services clinic that offers not only vaccinations, but other public health services which could benefit the community. Efforts will continue to work with the municipality to identify which services would be of most benefit, after which the concept for an integrated public health clinic/fair will be finalized. In the near future, the same consultation process will take place in Wellington, an area that could also benefit from a similar integrated model.
HPEPH to Publicly Post Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Lapse Investigations
In response to a recent IPAC lapse investigation, the Board was provided with an overview of the IPAC lapse investigation and reporting process. IPAC lapse investigations evaluate whether any departure from the Infection Prevention and Control standards has taken place in a health care or personal service setting. While Public Health inspects personal service settings such as piercing salons and tattoo parlors for IPAC compliance through routine inspections, inspection of professional health care settings are initiated by a referral from the regulatory college, a complaint, or surveillance. Ontario Public Health Standard, Infection Prevention and Control Complaints Protocol (the Protocol),along with HPEPH’s Transparency Plan, aim to make this information readily available to the public by posting reports of these investigations to HPEPH’s website within 2 weeks of the inspection date. This process ensures transparency and accountability on both the part of the care giver and public health, while reassuring patients/clients that recommended corrected action has been taken by all parties. If the outcome of an investigation is such that a risk is identified that requires action on the part of patients, the protocol also ensures processes are in place to clearly notify patients of such risks and recommended action.
To help raise awareness of the IPAC inspection and reporting process and reduce the risk of IPAC lapses, HPEPH is already working with local health care providers to ensure IPAC guidelines are being met, and is also planning to offer an education session to local healthcare professionals in the spring of 2017.
Consultation Underway for Draft Revision of Public Health Standards
The MOHLTC has completed their review of the Ontario Public Health Standards, and have developed modernized standards for public health programs and services. Internal consultation is currently taking place with boards of health through regional meetings, aiming to gather input on operational considerations, implementation requirements, and supports required to roll out these new standards.
HPEPH to Promote and Support Healthy Menu Labeling Legislation
Program Managers Jillian Gumbley and Roberto Almeida provided the Board with an update on the Healthy Menu Choices Act, which required food service premises with 20 or more locations in Ontario to display calories on menus for standard food items, beginning January 1, 2017. Through this legislation, the province intends to inform people of the calorie content of foods, make it easier for people to make healthier choices, and encourage healthier menu items. Menu labeling aims to address challenges related to obesity in Ontario, with more than one third of Canadian children and youth being identified as either overweight or obese between 2009-2011. As fast food is a key contributor to unhealthy weights due to the frequently high caloric content, menu labeling has the potential to increase knowledge and influence food choices. Public Health Inspectors will be enforcing the application of the Healthy Menu Choices Act through mandatory routine inspections in 2017, after which inspections will be complaint driven.
Efforts Continue to Reduce the Incidence of Rabies
Monitoring the occurrence of rabies, as well as preventing the occurrence of rabies in humans, is a key responsibility of Public Health. Rabies is an acute viral disease that is nearly always fatal, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported a significant increase of rabies cases in 2016 as compared to 2015. Ruxshin Amooyan, Public Health Inspector, updated the Board on HPEPH activities which took place in 2016 to prevent the occurrence of rabies in humans. These activities included initiating investigation of all animal biting incidents involving humans within 24 hours, offering a low cost rabies clinic, conducting radio promotions, and sending letters to target agencies.
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