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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Board Update

The Board of Health for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) held its regular monthly meeting in Belleville on May 3, 2017.  The meeting highlights are below.

Leadership Transition Plan Announced
At today’s meeting, the Board announced a set of organizational changes as part of a leadership transition plan for the coming year. Dr. Ian Gemmill has been engaged to serve as the Acting Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) on a part-time basis, effective immediately.  Dr. Gemmill, who has 35 years of experience in Ontario’s Public Health system, brings significant and proven leadership experience, medical expertise, and insight to HPEPH, which will be invaluable over the coming year. 

In addition, after a rigorous search for an MOH, the Board also announced that Dr. Piotr Oglaza will continue as a Medical Resident for the coming year as he completes specialized training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Queen’s University. Upon completion of his program, and subject to approval by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (required for all MOH appointments), Dr. Oglaza will be appointed Medical Officer of Health for HPEPH effective July 1, 2018.  

Former Board Chair Terry McGuigan Recognized for Contributions
The Board officially thanked former Board Chair Terry McGuigan, recognizing his significant contributions and commitment to Public Health during his 6 years as an HPEPH Board member, including his time as Board as Chair from January 2015 through February 2017. While serving on the Board, Terry demonstrated leadership and steadfast commitment, including participation in the HPEPH Accommodation, Finance, Governance, and Building Opening Ceremony Committee, as well as chairing the MOH Recruitment and Search Committee, whose work led to the selection of Dr. Piotr Oglaza as the future MOH. 

Upcoming Educational Opportunities for Local Care Providers
HPEPH is offering two Continuing Medical Educational Opportunities to local Primary Care practitioners in May. An overview of risks, identification, prevention, and treatment of Lyme disease is being offered on the evening of May 3, while a session on the topic of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) within clinical office settings is being be offered on May 10 and will provide background information on infection control, as well as review practical tools to maintain infection control standards.

HPEPH Working with Community Partners to Reduce Occurrence of Opioid Overdose
HPEPH continues to work with community partners to reduce the risk of opioid overdose and make Naloxone kits available within the community. In addition, Parent and Caregiver Opioid Education Sessions will be offered in Belleville on May 9, and Bancroft on May 30 to provide parents with information that will help them talk to their teens about the risks of drug use. Collaboration has also continued with local school boards to share supporting information with both parents and students.  

Efforts Continue to Increase Immunization and Ensure Accuracy of Records
Efforts have continued to maintain immunization status records for local school children in accordance with the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA). Since the beginning of 2017, notices to parents and students advising of the need to update immunizations, paired with immunization clinics held in high schools and at HPEPH, have reduced the number of students with outstanding immunization records from 4,400 to 44. These numbers represent a 96% immunization rate for students at HPEPH, and 99% compliance with the ISPA. This increased immunization rate will help protect students and staff from vaccine preventable disease, while maintaining accurate immunization records will ensure that HPEPH is able to identify vulnerable students within a school should an outbreak occur.  In addition, HPEPH promoted Immunization Awareness Week which was celebrated April 22-29, 2017. Efforts continued to increase public knowledge about the safety of vaccines, as well as reduce hesitancy for vaccination, including a social media campaign promoting vaccine awareness, and the launch of a new video developed collaboratively with several other health units.

Commitment to Community Engagement Continues
HPEPH continues efforts to increase community engagement and responsiveness, in order to ensure programs and services align with the needs of the community, as well as comply with the Ontario Public Health Organizational Standards. To support these efforts, a network mapping and analysis project was completed in 2016, which identified current links with local organizations. In addition, a Community Engagement Snapshot was created to assist staff in the planning and implementation of community engagement activities at both the program and corporate level, and many staff also participated in community engagement training. As community engagement and responsiveness continues to be a corporate priority in 2017, programs will continue to build capacity to engage communities across Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, as well as share the ways this feedback will inform program planning. 

HPEPH Continues to Advocate for Opportunities for Active Transportation
HPEPH continues to collaborate with community partners to create social and physical community environments that encourage people to use active transportation more often. Two documents have been created by HPEPH to support local municipalities considering and implementing active transportation within their communities. A Belleville Pedestrian and Bicycle Environment Impact Study was conducted in 2016 and identified a substantial demand for improved pedestrian and cycling infrastructure on both North Park Street and Bridge Street East. In addition, HPEPH has published a report entitled Creating Complete and Sustainable Communities: Healthy Policies for Active Transportation, to support local government when considering the health implications of policy and program decisions that shape the design of communities and incorporation of active transportation systems.   Finally, plans are underway to promote June as Bike Month, complete with community events, challenges, and promotional campaigns to raise awareness about the benefits of biking in our community. 

Winter Driving Safety Campaign a Success
Together with the Quinte Region Traffic Coalition, HPEPH continued efforts to encourage safe winter driving this year, through an annual education and awareness campaign to reduce drivers’ risk of being in winter collisions.  This collaborative campaign provided an opportunity to build relationships with local businesses and community agencies, as well as raise awareness of safe driving practices.  More information can be found in the full report.

Emily Tubbs 
Communications Specialist  
Phone: 613-966-5500 x 464 or 613-848-4944
Email: etubbs@hpeph.ca
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