Care close to home is essential

We can pay for the best health services that can be offered in Rainy River District.
There always will be services that can’t be provided locally, but we can fund those services and supports that make a difference in the lives of district residents.
And when we need more care than the district can afford, we are provided that care elsewhere in Ontario and Manitoba.
When it was realized that the three hospitals in Rainy River District required significant upgrades, the people of the district dug down into their pockets and found more than $3.5 million for the needed renovations.
And from all that fundraising, additional services were provided. Dialysis began, then the hospital in Fort Frances began offering chemotherapy.
We all agree there is no place like home. Being able to sleep in your own bed, meet for coffee at Tim’s with your friends, and attend your own church make living with illness much more bearable.
It gives us the warm and fuzzies to be with friends and family.
Five years after that first fundraiser, it was evident to the doctors and health practitioners here that the delay in receiving CT scans in a timely matter was an important consideration in treating patients.
As such, “Just Imagine” was launched to bring at CT scanner to La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances.
In just a few short months in 2006, the people of Rainy River District again dug deep down into their pockets and found $1.6 million. And when the unit was brought on stream, hundreds of district residents have been saved from travel to Winnipeg, Kenora, and Thunder Bay for CT diagnostic imaging.
And the great news that was delivered in 2007 was that instead of the original proposed machine, a much more powerful one was delivered.
In the digital age, the images from X-rays and from the CT scans are sent off to Hamilton, where radiologists could almost immediately read the digital images. The information then can quickly be provided back to local doctors.
Again this fall, the Riverside Foundation for Health Care called on residents to fund a new digital mammography machine. The current machine, which had served well for a long time, still used film that had to be sent off by courier to a radiologist to read.
Today in the digital world, film has passed into the past.
And now the new mammography imaging machine is installed at La Verendrye Hospital and the staff is being trained to use it.
For those patients who had to travel out of Fort Frances to hospitals with digital mammography machines, the installation cannot come quick enough.
The district again has recognized that “Care Close to Home” is essential and that being able to provide peace of mind to patients who can remain in Fort Frances is important.
The hospital has added other services, including knee replacement surgery.
More services have been identified that could be brought to Fort Frances and the district. But we have to realize there are services and procedures that cannot be provided locally and that travel will be needed.
Thunder Bay, Sudbury, London, Toronto, Ottawa, and Winnipeg all offer very specialized services and staffs with special training to look after those patients requiring services that are not available locally.
But we can afford the services that will get district patients to these larger centres in a timely fashion.
I congratulate the “Together we Can” committee and the Riverside Foundation for Health Care for their commitment to the residents of Rainy River District.

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