North Shore geriatric rehabilitation services expand to Thessalon

Will ensure better access to care in ageing area, North Shore Health Network says

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Expanding North Shore geriatric outpatient services will allow older adults to live independently longer as well as trim travel barriers to accessing care, North Shore Health Network says. 

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Geriatric rehabilitation services, previously only offered regionally in Blind River, became available at the Thessalon site Thursday. 

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Program funding for the 2024-25 fiscal year is $1.4 million. 

 “As we get the right staffing in place, we are looking to expand services across the North Shore to serve people as close to home as possible,” NSHN president and CEO Tim Vine told The Sault Star Thursday. 

Time was required to recruit ample staff and get everything else into place at the Thessalon site, some 100 kilometres east of Sault Ste. Marie.

“It took us a while to build a head of steam on that program, but now that we have worked some things out, offering it out of the Blind River site, we’re expanding,” Vine said. “The vision was always that those services would be offered across out three sites.” 

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NSHN also has a site in Richards Landing, on St. Joseph Island. 

Referrals to access geriatric rehabilitation services may be sent by a provider from hospital, emergency department or walk-in-clinic. Referrals by a primary care provider are preferred to ensure a collaborative approach to care.  

When this is not possible, referrals may be initiated by patients themselves or a family member on their behalf. 

Thessalon operation hours will be based on refers and appointments.  

“We are trying to get the word out to let folks know there are a number of different referral pathways,” Vine said. 

“Those will be assessed, and appointments will be booked. It would be nice if we were busy operating out of there as much as possible to better serve the folks in Thessalon and surrounding communities.” 

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The service, unveiled in Blind River in early 2023, offers comprehensive assessments, care planning and rehabilitation services, to seniors 65 and up, and other eligible patients. Staff support NSHN’s emergency department, acute care unit and complex continuing care, which offers restorative services. Staff also provide education to other health-care workers, patients and caregivers.

The demographic NSHS services is, on average, nearly 10 years older than that of Ontario’s population, Vine said. 

“I think what is really important about services like this, offered close to home for folks, is that it reduces barriers to access and allows people to live independently with dignity longer,” he added 

“Eventually people will require institutional care, but if we can delay that, it’s better for the system and it’s better for patients.” 

All referrals will be triaged by intake staff. Referrals should be sent through one of the following:  

  • Fax: 705-356-2574, attention physiotherapy department;
  • Phone: 705-356-2265, ext 2480;
  • Email: [email protected];
  • Website: https://www.nshn.care/geriatric-team.

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