Municipal governments are limited in what they can do to affect health care directly, but effective local leaders find ways to have a positive influence. Today, Mayor Christian Provenzano spoke of how he was glad to have had the opportunity to help improve the care that is available for residents of Sault Ste. Marie.
“It’s important to remember that the actual funding and delivery of health care services is largely the responsibility of the provincial government,” said Provenzano. “However, Mayor and Council can be helpful by being strong advocates for our community and our local health service providers and by working to foster partnerships to address challenges.”
One area where Mayor Provenzano is pleased to have advocated for Sault Ste. Marie’s needs was in assisting Sault Area Hospital (SAH) with obtaining funding to expand their cardiac care services. Thanks to Mayor Provenzano’s persistent lobbying, in July 2017, the Province of Ontario announced funding to allow SAH to begin offering coronary angioplasty. The first angioplasty procedure was completed in August of this year. With the service now available at SAH, up to 500 patients each year will be treated locally instead of travelling to Sudbury or Toronto for care.
Mayor Provenzano has also been a strong and early supporter of SAH’s proposal to build a Level Three Withdrawal Management Services facility. Mayor Provenzano has supported this important mental health and addictions facility since the idea was first discussed in 2017. The funding proposal is currently with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“A new withdrawal management facility is important infrastructure to help our community address addiction and substance abuse challenges,” said Provenzano. “But while we await word on Sault Area Hospital’s proposal, we need to keep working together. Right now, our police force is working hard to stem the tide of illegal drugs into the community. Our partners with the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Strategy and the Algoma Leadership Table are working on strategies to assist drug users and their families to break the cycle of addiction and to prevent others from becoming addicted in the first place.”
“Mayor and Council can do their part by helping to increase awareness, by working to bring partners together, and by supporting our front-line workers in every way that we can.”
Another health care priority Mayor Provenzano has assisted with has been adding long-term care beds. Sault Ste. Marie has a low ratio of hospital beds relative to the number of seniors in the community and this contributes to hospital overcrowding. Recently, Mayor Provenzano worked with SAH and the Ontario Finnish Resthome Association (OFRA) to help communicate these facts and the importance of long-term care locally to provincial decision makers. In April of this year, the Government of Ontario announced it would be adding 84 new long-term care beds in Sault Ste. Marie—64 to OFRA and 20 to Extendicare Van Daele Manor.
“All of us want to ensure that our older citizens have access to compassionate, high-quality care as they age. The new beds for Van Daele and OFRA are a good first step but we need to continue adding long-term care capacity in the community. The Provincial Government has committed to adding thousands of beds across the province over the next several years. If re-elected, I will work collaboratively with our local care homes and our MPP to make sure Sault Ste. Marie gets its needed share of these new beds.”