Introduction to Health

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The health of individuals is affected by physical factors, lifestyle behaviours, genetics, environment and psycho-social determinants. The health of a community is influenced by the overall health of its citizens. Access to appropriate and timely primary health care, health promotion, disease and risk prevention, health education and acute care can assist citizens to maintain or restore their health.

 

What we are doing well …

The development of a new acute care facility is on track to start construction in the fall of 2008 in St. Catharines. A new medical school initiative through McMaster University has admitted its first students who will have residency placements for experience in the Niagara Region. Brock University and the Brock Loyalist collaborative program offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. All nursing students have placements in Niagara with a concentration on chronic care and mental health in the last 2 years. Nurse practitioners are beginning to be engaged across the region and Community Health Centers (CHCs) are being developed for expansion in Niagara. We have a network of organizations providing recreational and physical activity throughout Niagara.

 

Where we can improve …

The primary health care system in Niagara is underdeveloped. Such a system needs to include health promotion, disease prevention and acute care. Niagara has an increasing aging population, high levels of obesity and problems with respiratory and cardiovascular health. There is a serious shortage of physicians and many existing ones are approaching retirement. Many Niagara residents do not have a family physician. Niagara, like other areas in Ontario and across the country are facing a nursing shortage and retention and recruitment of nurses for the Region is a priority, especially given the average age of nurses in the area. The Niagara Health System is facing serious fiscal challenges. Wait times at emergency rooms and for diagnostic services and cancer surgeries are of concern. More nurse practitioners are needed and planned Community Health Centers need to be fully operationalized. Increased mental health services are needed.

 

Overall score: Level 2. Of concern, needs attention.

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