Power of partnerships

A letter from the Winnipeg Health Region

Winnipeg Health Region President & CEO
Wave, November / December 2011

Arlene Wilgosh

There's a quote by Helen Keller that I recently heard, and it has stuck with me ever since. "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

Isn't that the truth?

How many times have you tried to tackle a project on your own only to realize that it would be so much easier and better if there were other people to help out? Daunting tasks can be finished much faster with extra hands, and even a good idea can evolve into a great one with some expert advice or additional input.

When you look at health care, there's simply no way we could accomplish our goal of building healthy, vibrant communities without having strong partnerships and without working together.

No matter what facet of health care you look at, partnerships are critical. The Winnipeg Health Region certainly recognizes that, and we're constantly working to build on our existing partnerships and establish new ones so that we can continue to improve health and wellness in our community and beyond.

In my role as President & CEO of the Region, I'm always working to build relationships with others to enhance the delivery of care. On one typical day recently, nearly every meeting I had was with partners or potential partners. One meeting was about our nurses giving flu shots to players on the Winnipeg Jets hockey team to help raise awareness about influenza vaccinations. Another meeting was with folks from the Maples Surgical Centre to discuss ways to provide people with greater access to an echocardiogram, a test that uses sound waves to produce images of a heart. And a third meeting that same day was with representatives from all of the regional health authorities in Manitoba.

The regional health authorities themselves were created so that health services could be better co-ordinated and to establish better partnerships with school divisions, businesses and other groups.

Important partnerships also exist with the universities to maintain a close connection between education and research. Partnerships exist with feefor- service doctors to ensure there's a continuum of care for patients.

Wave magazine, too, is a partnership between the University of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Health Region. By coming together, we're able to provide readers with valuable information about the thing that matters to them most - their health and well-being.

Here at the Region, the circle of partnerships is larger than ever and continually growing. Long gone are the days when our focus was kept within the four walls of a hospital or care home. Our relationships are now extending beyond individual facilities, organizations, city limits and sometimes even past international borders.

Not only are we tapping into a wealth of health information, research and innovation, we're also much more aware of the many different factors that influence health. Just imagine someone's health as a picture, made up of a number of puzzle pieces. Each of those pieces represents a different factor - social, environmental, biological, and others - that can determine a person's health. Getting all those pieces together requires collaboration between experts from every sector. It's imperative that we work together. It's in everyone's best interest.

We're seeing progress and new possibilities every day, thanks to the partnerships that have been forged. In this issue of Wave, there are stories that demonstrate the positive impact of some partnerships within the health region.

On page 32, you'll read how collaborative efforts helped improve outcomes for patients with hip fractures. Our turnaround times for hip fracture surgeries are now among the fastest in the land. You will also learn about the Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, and the important partnerships they are building around research into proteins that could lead to new treatments for various health conditions.

Partnerships often generate creative ideas. When the Faculty of Dentistry was in need of a major overhaul of the Children's Dental Clinic at Health Sciences Centre, a million-dollar solution was found, one that will literally pay for itself. Find out how on page 8.

The value of partnerships is evident. We see proof of it all the time. In a province like Manitoba in particular, the beauty of building these partnerships is that we're small enough to reach out and talk to each other, but big enough to be recognized for leading the way.

As we continue to develop partnerships in the New Year, we encourage you to consider yourself an important partner in health. The choices you make to eat healthy, live well and stay active go a long way in helping us build healthy and vibrant communities.

Throughout this holiday season, I hope you will find time for the things that matter to you most and remember to look after yourself. Our physical and emotional well-being often takes a back seat to other demands that come along, particularly at this time of year.

I wish you and those closest to you a safe and healthy holiday season, and all the best in 2012.

In closing, here's one final quote. It comes from Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, who said: "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."

Let's all celebrate our successes, both big and small, together.

Wave: November / December 2011

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located on the original lands of Treaty 1 and on the homelands of the Metis Nation. WRHA respects that the First Nation treaties were made on these territories and acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
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