Putting Patients at the Centre of their Care
“Health Links is a great model. It is very personal. They really understand what you are going through.” Jack Beriault, patient
Two years ago, Jack Beriault was laid off from his manufacturing job in Cornwall, and that wasn’t the only bad news he received at the time. He was also diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer. “We had never been through anything like that,” says Debi Beriault, Jack’s wife of 28 years. “We didn’t know what to expect. It was terrifying.”
Jack underwent surgery, then two more operations to resolve complications. In financial difficulty due to the job loss, and reeling from his health crisis, Jack sunk into a depression. Thankfully, things started to look up for him once he had been connected to a LHIN program called Health Links. It’s an innovative model of care that brings together health providers to serve patients with the most complex needs.
Sandy Bertrand, Care Coordinator for the Stormont Glengarry Cornwall and Akwesasne Health Link, conducted a home visit. “When I first met Jack,” she says. “He could barely walk, he wasn’t eating well, he wasn’t sleeping well, he had pain, and his incision was open at that time. So he was a sick man. He looked like a dying man.”
Sandy took immediate action, calling for a care conference, which was held at Jack’s family doctor’s office. She also asked home-care services to get involved and they provided a dietician, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Additionally, Sandy spoke with Jack’s former company to access his record of employment in order to apply for employment insurance.
The overall goals of Health Links are to improve quality of care for those who use the health system the most, and to save health-care dollars by better coordinating services for these individuals so they can avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency-room visits.
Jack and Debi, who were initially skeptical about the benefits of Health Links, suddenly found themselves at the centre of Jack’s care. They felt listened to. Jack followed a step-by-step written care plan, and his health gradually improved.
Now, not only is he a cancer survivor, but a Health Links alumni. “Health Links is a great model. It is very personal. It lets you know you have somebody waiting to help you. They really understand what you are going through. That you can call anytime and they will help you with anything. It is really important that the Health Links keep going,” says Jack.
There are 10 Health Links in the Champlain region. They serve the people with the most complex needs – the top 5 per cent of the population, and these clients account for 65 per cent of health-care costs.
Jack has become much more active. He smiles more. He and Debi recently went out on a movie night. They talk about future car rides together. So impressed was Jack with Health Links, he now attends meetings to share his positive experience. “I want to give back with our time to help Health Links,” he says. “Health Links pretty much saved my life.”