OTTAWA, Dec. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - The quality of healthcare a patient
receives hinges largely on how well primary care and public health are
knitted together at the local level, says Ruta Valaitis, an associate
professor of nursing at McMaster University and holder of its Dorothy
C. Hall Primary Health Care Nursing Chair.
Valaitis and her investigator teams in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British
Columbia explored how public health and primary care can boost
collaboration to improve health and the quality and effectiveness of
primary health care systems in Canada. Strengthening Primary Health Care through Primary Care and Public Health
Collaboration, released today, is the culmination of her team's four and half years of
research funded by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
"Primary care and public health collaboration makes sense and working
together is important in all healthcare systems to improve the delivery
of services," said Valaitis.
"Many Canadians may remember the frustration of standing in a long line
for a flu shot during the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009. But, it doesn't
have to be that way," said Valaitis. She points to one northern
community exemplified in their report, where public health and primary
care staff teamed up to build an integrated scheduling and immunization
tracking system, while sharing staff and involving volunteers.
Primary care is the first point of entry to a health care system, often
a doctor or a nurse. Public health is an organized activity to promote,
protect, improve, and restore the health of individuals, specified
groups, or the population.
"Collaboration between primary care and public health can no longer be
viewed as a nice to have, it must be seen as need to have," said
Stephen Samis, Vice President, Programs, Canadian Foundation for
Healthcare Improvement. "This report further validates the need for a
closer relationship between public health and primary healthcare, and
how important such a partnership can be to improving the overall
The report's findings indicate that the health issues most often
addressed through collaborations in all provinces include communicable
disease control, chronic disease prevention and management,
parent-child programming, youth and health promotion programs, and
women's health programs.
Valaitis and her team have designed an ecological framework to
facilitate and sustain the partnership based on key systemic,
organizational, interpersonal and intrapersonal factors.
Barriers to successful collaboration include lack of funding, policy,
and lack of an integrated information and communication infrastructure.
Another dilemma, Valaitis said, is that primary care is not mandated to
collaborate, whereas public health is provincially mandated to work in
partnerships with other organizations.
Valaitis said nurses will continue to play a key role in successful
"In a lot of cases it's the public health nurses, primary care nurses
and nurse practitioners that tend to be the glue in the partnership to
make it work," she noted.
This research was funded in large part by CFHI and the Michael Smith
Foundation for Health Research HSPRN Partnership Program.
The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (cfhi-fcass.ca) is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to healthcare improvement
and transformation for Canadians. CFHI collaborates with governments,
policy-makers, and health system leaders to convert evidence and
innovative practices into actionable policies, programs, tools and
leadership development. CFHI is funded through an agreement with the
Government of Canada.
McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100
universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both
learning and discovery. It has a student population of 26,000, and more
than 150,000 alumni in 128 countries.
SOURCE: Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
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Media Relations, Faculty of Health Sciences,
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Eileen Melnick McCarthy
613-728-2238 ext. 233
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement