ESTPH 2016 Annual Report

Elgin St. Thomas Public Health

Message from the Board Chair

It is my pleasure to present our annual report highlighting our programs and services to our community in 2016.

This year, the Board of Health had one change in Board membership.  The Board welcomed Greg Currie, Mayor for the Town of Aylmer to the Board in December.  Our sincere thanks to Dave Mennill, Mayor, Township of Malahide for his commitment to the Board over the last two years.

This year, in keeping with ESTPH’s leadership strategic priority, the organization started exploring the development of an organizational risk management framework.  To learn more about how this applies to public health, I, as Board Chair, attended a risk management workshop along with the Executive Director and Medical Officer of Health hosted by the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa).  This workshop explored assessing and creating a healthy risk culture, reviewing common components of a risk management framework, and working through specific public health examples rating various risks and discussing mitigation strategies.  More work on this important organizational development will continue in 2017. 

The Board approved ESTPH’s position statement on the Social Determinants of Health.  Elgin St. Thomas Public Health believes that the Board of Health and staff have a professional and ethical responsibility to promote equity of health outcomes through action on the Social Determinants of Health and that reducing health inequities - with a goal of eliminating them – must be a priority for ESTPH.  This position statement will assist staff in the development of their program plans and it will assist the organization as a whole with its development of strategic priorities.

As part of the Board’s commitment to board training and development, emergency response training was held for Board members in November.  This training provided the Board with information on ESTPH’s role in a public health emergency such as an outbreak of an infectious agent, a natural disaster or a large scale environmental hazard.

ESTPH’s Emergency Management Plan is designed to operate within the overall scope of the City of St. Thomas Emergency Response Plan and to complement the Elgin County Emergency Management Plan.  Public health plays an important role in the protection of the health of the community in the event of an emergency so planning and training are critical components of being prepared.  

On behalf of the Board of Health, I extend my sincere appreciation to the management and staff for their valuable work in our community. 

Message from the Executive Director

Like previous years, the year 2016 was very busy.  The year began with the development of ESTPH’s first ever Leadership Philosophy.  In keeping with the strategic plan vision and outcomes, members of the management team worked to develop a draft leadership philosophy that would capture the essence of what it means to be a leaderful organization.  The philosophy outlines what a leaderful organization looks like and how the organization will support people to come to work with a clear sense of purpose and the energy to realize it. 

ESTPH also updated its communications strategy with a brand refresh by developing a tagline, “Live Healthy”, an ESTPH video, an on-line annual report, new vibrant colours and templates for letterhead, etc.  Following this brand refresh, ESTPH launched its new website.  Our website address stays the same - - but the new site is more AODA compliant, easier for clients and health care professionals to navigate, and more easily updated from an administration perspective.

The 2016 year also brought the new Patients First Act.  Much of the Act pertains to other parts of the health system but public health was included as it relates to its relationship with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).  Specifically, the Act requires public health and LHINs to have stronger linkages going forward.  ESTPH is looking forward to building on its already strong relationship with the SouthWest LHIN.

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) undertook a modernization of the Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS) and the Ontario Public Health Organizational Standards (OPHOS).  These two significant pieces of work define the mandate for public health programs, services, and accountabilities.  No doubt, 2017 will be busy exploring the opportunities that these Standards offer public health and our Elgin St. Thomas community.

Lastly, ESTPH is so fortunate to have such a committed group of staff that bring their much appreciated energy and commitment to their work each day.  Also, public health’s work is never done in isolation.  It takes a village as they say, and ESTPH remains grateful that it has the opportunity to work with so many dedicated and experienced partner agencies all desiring the same outcome – a healthy community.

Message from the Medical Officer of Health

Sometimes we refer to public health as community health or population health. These words reflect the key focus of the health unit. We work with Elgin St. Thomas to make our community a healthier place to live.  Our activities endeavour to make everyone (the whole population) to be as healthy as they can be. We do this by advocating for healthy policy, creating an environment that supports a healthy life, and engaging and collaborating with our community partners.

Policy is akin to house rules. Public policy lays out how we mutually agree to behave in society. Examples of healthy public policy includes smoke free outdoor spaces to decrease lung cancer risk and seat belt laws to decrease the injuries from car accidents.  This year, the health unit provided training to community leaders, the board of health and staff on Health-in-All Policies (HiAP).  HiAP is an approach by an organization, be it governmental or non-governmental, by which the organization considers the health impacts of its policies.

Our second tool is to promote good health is to create an environment that keeps us healthy. We work to make the healthy choice, the easy choice in the places where we live, work and play. For example, we released web-based modules (Health at Work for ALL) assisting employers to be proactive in developing a healthier workplace.  We worked with the community to develop neighbourhood walking paths (such as the South Path Connectivity project) so people can walk instead of drive to where they want to go.

Becoming a community that encourages good health requires an all-of-society approach where citizens are engaged in the achievement of this common goal. To this end, the health unit works with many community agencies, such as the Community Leader’s Cabinet and Active Elgin, to foster collaboration on projects that promote good health across the life span and make the place we live a health-friendly place.  I invite you to read this report and to learn more about the ways the health unit works together with the community to achieve health for all.