Adapting to Fill the Gaps in Health Care

 Cumberland Health Care Foundation
As the business of health care changes, the Cumberland Health Care Foundation adapts.

At the Cumberland Health Care Foundation we follow an Adaptable Management style: we look for the gaps in health care services so we can step in to help. Where there is an unfulfilled need we look to see if we can address and remedy the situation to the benefit of our community.

As early as 2009 our Foundation recognized that there were people in Cumberland who were not being treated for their cancers because they simply could not afford to go to their appointments. Many cancer treatments are not available in Cumberland which means that our residents have to travel, often frequently, to Halifax or Moncton. Add in parking, tolls, and meals and it could cost upward of $100 per day just to receive treatment. For many, this barrier alone was insurmountable.

Factoring that patients may not be able to earn income during their illness, there were other expenses that needed to be addressed to ensure the health of the patient: nutritional supplements, home monitoring services or bed rentals, for example. So we started Cumberland Cancer Assistance. To date we have responded to more than 700 requests and approved $250,000 in care; putting aid directly into the hands of those who need it most.

In 2013 we started a sister program to Cumberland Cancer Assistance for Palliative patients and have spent $83,000 on more than 230 requests. Now we are starting another direct-aid program for our Mental Health and Addictions clients.

Because of the unique nature of Mental Health and Addictions we will be working on developing a broader set of guidelines to help as many clients as possible with their quests to lead mentally and physically healthy lives. We also look forward to enhancing services and removing barriers for the Mental Health and Addictions team as much as possible. Last year we addressed some transportation issues by purchasing a van for the Mental Health and Addictions team and in the coming months we hope to develop a much needed and cost saving drop-in centre which will not only de-institutionalize the care environment but will also help to remove stigma and reduce waiting lists for new clients.

Recruitment and retention of top-level professionals is always challenging and we have addressed this by contributing to two bursary programs. The first, Cumberland Health Care Careers Bursary offers $5,000 per year for students entering health care professions and features a return-of-service agreement to bring these talented students into our Cumberland health care facilities. Another bursary, the Clara Bacon Bursary, is for current employees of the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre (CRHCC) who wish to pursue further educational opportunities.

Rounding out some of the needs we have addressed is the need for maintaining spiritual comfort in a fast-paced, stressful and sometimes emotionally crushing environment. Sometimes people simply need a place to “get away” to relax, exercise and de-compress. Inside the CRHCC we have completely refurbished and decorated a number of waiting rooms and turned them into “Quiet Rooms” that can also be used to house overnight family members. Outdoors we have two healing gardens and are working on developing a walking track so that staff, patients and visitors can enjoy outdoor exercise in a safe and pleasant environment. There is also an accessible vegetable garden which is managed and harvested by clients of Mental Health and Addictions.

As the business of health care changes there will always be places where our Foundation can manage or enhance services that will benefit not only those in our hospital but all citizens of Cumberland County. The Cumberland Health Care Foundation has found many successes in serving our community through many unique endeavours and we will continue to adapt whenever, and wherever we are needed.