Connecting public health and primary care

- June 20, 2012

Think Tank participants; see full list below. (Nick Pearce photo)
Think Tank participants; see full list below. (Nick Pearce photo)

Health. It’s a personal word. But it’s also a political word. It’s a social word. It’s as intimate as your doctor’s office and so vast that its implications stretch all the way to the premier’s office, and everywhere in between.

So it's well worth thinking—and talking—about.

“What this ‘Think Tank’ is about is bringing together those who are responsible for or work in primary care and public health—and strengthening our collaborations, so that we can work together more effectively and efficiently,” explains Donna Meagher-Stewart of Dalhousie’s School of Nursing.

Dr. Meagher-Stewart is one of six site-leads and a co-investigator on a national research team, funded by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation: “Strengthening Primary Health Care through Primary Care and Public Health Collaboration.” For four years, the research team has collected data on how best to encourage partnerships between primary care and public health.

The team includes researchers in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia, with its principal investigator, Ruta Valaitis, based at McMaster University. Dalhousie co-investigators include Dr. Meagher-Stewart and Ruth Martin-Misener of the School of Nursing and Fred Burge of the Department of Family Medicine.

Last month, the Nova Scotia team hosted a ‘Think Tank’ session at Dalhousie’s Great Hall, bringing together more than 65 policy makers, representatives from national and provincial organizations, administrators, educators, researchers, managers and front-line staff from across Nova Scotia. The goal was to share some of their findings with leaders throughout the health system, and discuss how those results can inform collaboration between public health and primary care here in Nova Scotia.

Building on tradition

“It’s a positive relationship already,” explains Paula English, chief of Program Standards and Quality with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. “We have a long tradition of working together in some aspects, but there are opportunities for different ways to work together… make sure we grow together in a complementary way.”

Organizers hope that the conversations started during the Think Tank will continue.

“This is about better health for Nova Scotians,” says Linda Young, director of Public Health Services for Capital Health. “Sometimes that process is about systems, sometimes it’s about capacity for services, or better access to care. But collaboration is what can help us achieve those goals better.”

To learn more about the project, visit the website.

Photo subjects (left to right):

Kristin MacLellan, Research Assistant
Ruth Martin-Misener, Co-Site Lead, Dalhousie School of Nursing
Linda Young, Director of Public Health Services, Capital Health
Patricia Austin, Research Coordinator, McMaster Unv
Ruta Valaitis, PI, McMaster Unv
Lisa Grandy, Director, Primary Health Care, Dept of Health & Wellness
Dr. Fred Burge, Research Director, Dalhousie Family Medicine
Donna Meagher-Stewart, C-Site lead, Dalhousie School of Nursing
Paula English, Chief of Program Standards & Quality, Dept of Health & Wellness


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