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You’re invited: Help shape health services in Algoma with the Algoma Ontario Health Team

Sault Ste. Marie, ON – This week, households across Algoma District will begin receiving invitations by mail to participate with the Citizens’ Reference Panel on Integrated Care. This is a unique and exciting opportunity for community members to share their perspective and contribute recommendations for health challenges faced by Algoma residents, including transitions between health and social services, access to virtual care, support for chronic conditions, and access to culturally-appropriate care.


“For our team, it’s critical that we include voices from the community in planning for our upcoming projects,” says Stephanie Parniak, Algoma Ontario Health Team (AOHT) Patient Partner and Tri-Chair. “At the core of our work we are trying to improve the health system for the residents of Algoma. This can only be achieved by listening to lived experience and working together towards shared understanding and solutions that will serve this community best.”


What is a citizens’ reference panel?

A citizens’ reference panel is an opportunity for individuals to become involved in helping to inform government, policy makers, and healthcare providers by providing insight into citizens’ attitudes and views, and making recommendations, on how we can improve healthcare in Algoma.


How does one become involved?

Several thousand households across Algoma were randomly selected by Canada Post to receive the invitation package, which includes details about the panel, frequently asked questions, and information on how to sign up. Thirty-six residents will be chosen at random for the panel. We will make sure the panel reflects the Algoma region’s diversity, with representation of gender, age, geography, and ethnic/racial/linguistic background.


What is expected of me to participate?

The Algoma Citizens’ Reference Panel on Integrated Care will take place virtually on three Fridays and three Saturdays over three weekends in May. Community members do not need to be experts to participate. As part of the panel, participants will have the opportunity to learn about challenges facing the health system in Algoma from experts, patient advocates, and caregivers before working together to provide recommendations for improvements moving forward.


“In a region as vast as Algoma, it would be irresponsible to plan health system improvements without first incorporating the expertise of the residents we aim to serve,” says Mary Ellen Luukkonen, East Algoma OHT Co-chair. “We’re committed to ensuring that this panel will be truly representative of our community, including panelists from various age groups, geographic locations, and backgrounds, and we’re prepared to incorporate their feedback in the foundation of our work.”


The opportunity to volunteer on the Citizens’ Reference Panel on Integrated Care is open to any resident age 18 or older that receives a mailed invitation package. Thirty-six individuals will be chosen among the respondents to represent the Algoma community. Individuals who are interested in alternative volunteer opportunities with the Algoma Ontario Health Team are welcome to submit their name on the Citizens' Reference Panel website. For questions or more information about the panel, visit www.algomareferencepanel.ca or call 1-833-426-0799.

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The Algoma Ontario Health Team benefits from OHT Implementation Funding from the Ministry of Health.

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