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Introducing our Residents’ Panel: Citizens just like you improving our health system

Toronto, September 1, 2016

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in mid-June at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. Usually bustling with researchers and students throughout the week, there’s a different group of people gathered: the St. Michael’s Residents’ Health Services Panel.

The St. Michael’s Residents’ Health Services Panel is a group of 28 local residents from central-east Toronto. Panelists aren’t all patients or have health-care experience, but they are passionate about improving their community. They have committed to work with St. Michael’s Hospital and local health service providers over a period of one year to identify and address gaps within the local health system.

The panel membership is as diverse as the central-east Toronto region they represent. In January 2016, a letter from Dr. Robert Howard, president and CEO of St. Michael’s Hospital, was sent to one in five households in the area asking for volunteers interested in joining the panel. The hospital also co-ordinated with local community agencies to ensure that under-represented and disadvantaged populations were also reached.

From there, 28 panel members were chosen to ensure a diverse and representative group based on criteria such as geography, age, gender identity, housing status and identification as a visible minority.

This is the first time that St. Michael’s, in partnership with the Toronto Central LHIN, has recruited local residents in this manner to help identify principles and priorities for local health services, and work with the organization to address gaps. Sessions are facilitated by St. Michael’s staff and public engagement experts and held on weekends and weeknights to better accommodate panelists’ schedules.

The panel is one of many engagement activities at St. Michael’s, and specifically targets local citizens to ensure that their voices are heard.

“As health-care providers, we strive to provide the best care for our patients,” said Jason Manayathu, the manager of strategy at St. Michael’s and one of the group facilitators. “The panel provides a fresh perspective and despite coming from diverse backgrounds, each member is passionate about sharing their unique experience to improve their community.”

The panel has just released its inaugural report outlining principles and priorities for local health services in central-east Toronto. Throughout the remainder of the year, the panel will continue to work with the hospital to inform specific improvements that will benefit their community.

“I believe that the principles the panel has developed as local residents are a useful guide for our efforts to improve care for our entire urban community,” said Dr. Howard. “The priorities they’ve defined for our community present opportunities for more collaboration to improve the health of our city.”

“As funding partners, we are inspired by the range of experience and insight that have been given a platform through the St. Michael’s Hospital Residents’ Health Services Panel,” said Jenny Acton, senior strategy and community engagement officer at the Toronto Central LHIN. “We see enormous potential in this model of community engagement and its ability to open the lines of communication between local residents and health-care decision makers.”

For more information on the St. Michael’s Residents’ Health Services Panel and to read the inaugural report, click here.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About the Toronto Central LHIN

Toronto Central LHIN is responsible for planning, funding and integrating local health services that meet the needs of 1.2 million residents and tens of thousands of others who come to Toronto for care. Our new Strategic Plan 2015-18 focuses on working with our 170 health service providers, residents, patients, caregivers and other partners to build a local health system that is coordinated, easy to navigate and provides timely and equitable access to care.