When looking at the Northern Health Region’s (NHR) community health assessment, vice-president of planning and population health Joy Tetlock looks at the positives.
“We know we are often some of the lowest numbers in the province. One of the key things to take away from the report is although we often show up as the worst status in a lot of categories, our status didn’t worsen over time,” she said.
“Although we can still see that inequity… this is the first time we haven’t seen indicators go down.”
For most measurable statistics, the NHR still ranks as the least favourable region in Manitoba. The NHR has the highest rate of diabetes in Manitoba. The area including Flin Flon, Cranberry Portage and Snow Lake is closer to the Manitoba average, but still slightly lower.
“We are significantly affected by the social determinants of health,” Tetlock said.
“When you’re looking at employment status, education status, those types of things,
the NHR is working with other organizations to improve those conditions. Reaching out and working with our Indigenous partners, partners in education, many other government organizations, we’re starting to put a little bit of a stop to some of that.”
Tetlock added she hopes to see improvement across the board over the next five years.
“We’re not getting worse,” she said.
“Hopefully next time, we’ll see even more improvement, but we know we can’t do it alone.”
Some of the numbers in the report were also impacted by reporting quirks. The assessment says only two-thirds of residents in the NHR have access to a regular healthcare provider. Every other region is above the Manitoba average of 83 per cent. Those numbers can be a bit deceiving.
“Anything in the report that is from the community health survey, that survey is not applied on First Nations land,” Tetlock said.
“That is a huge portion of our population. That’s why we make sure to note that. It’s not reflective of our full population. You have to take those numbers with a bit of a grain of salt. We could look much higher, we could look much worse. We don’t know.”
Tetlock said the NHR was better able to compare to other regions thanks to each region’s health assessments looking the same.
“It has been a really great example of how the provincial transformation is bringing us together to work as a province,” she said.
“Previously, each region did their own thing. We didn’t have a template… our reports looked different in the end.”
Tetlock said the report is the foundation to all of the RHA’s long term planning efforts.
“The [assessment] is really the kickoff to the RHA’s planning process,” she said.
“It’s the starting point of our five-year planning that we go through.”
Tetlock said the assessment is a puzzle piece and something to show to people when consulting on future plans.
“We look for key areas where we have room for improvement,” she said.
“We take that information out to our stakeholders, communities, health care providers, chief and council, mayors and councils, and ask ‘What of this information is important to you?’”
The over-300 page assessment is available on the NHR’s website for public viewing. Despite the length, Tetlock said it’s much easier to read this assessment than past editions.
“I find this one much more user friendly, because each indicator is the same,” she said.
“Once you go through the explanation of how the report works, you can work through the indicators a lot faster… I find visually this is a lot easier to look through.”