The Board Chair for Southern Health says 2018 has been a year of transformation.
Abe Bergen notes the entire provincial health system is under health transformation.
"That means a lot of our staff and leadership have been plugged into provincial planning teams," says Bergen. "It's certainly been our priority as a board to encourage them to help shape the future of what health care can look like."
The Board Chair says he will also remember 2018 for the population growth. Southern Health crossed the 200,000 resident mark this year. Bergen says they have grown by 21 per cent in the last decade and are one of the fastest growing regions in the province.
"That means high birth rate and immigration and we are trying to ensure that we address those," he says.
In 2018, Southern Health also maintained its position as a fiscally strong regional health authority. Bergen says it has been seven years since amalgamation and Southern Health has had a balanced fiscal position in each of those years."We're delighted by that," he says.
Also in 2018, Bergen says they secured funding for a helipad at hospitals in Ste. Anne, Portage and Boundary Trails.
Bergen admits one of the challenges in 2018 happened in October when it was announced the Emergency Room in Ste. Anne would be reducing its hours as the result of a physician shortage.
"We're pretty happy with the response that Dr. Denis Fortier has there in terms of working with the docs and we understand that things will improve and we'll get some more docs coming to Ste. Anne as well," says Bergen.
Meanwhile, Bergen says the people of Southern Health are a real highlight of 2018. He refers to the front line workers like nurses, doctors, ER staff, emergency responders and home care workers as the champions of the health care system.
"They are the ones that provide health care with integrity and service and compassion and really kudos needs to go out to them," says Bergen.