Sault education levels, and life expectancy. and have

Sault Ste. Marie is not considered
rural, yet you have longer wait times in hospitals, and if you are in need of a
specialist, you can expect to wait months before being seen. These specialists
are not usually local –  likely invoking
the need to travel. There is limited access to medical professionals in rural,
remote and northern communities as a result of the challenge to recruit and
retain healthcare workers. To combat this, my hometown puts on an annual
initiative called the “Bring A Doctor Home” hockey tournament to help raise
funds – which the provincial government matches – to award a bursary through
NOSM to a medical student with heritage in Northern Ontario.

 

Travel issues are not exclusive to
patient transport. Aside from the conditions of Highway 17 in the winter,
access to and delivery of medical equipment/supplies to rural communities poses
a significant challenge. Lack of regulated infrastructure for community
connections and highway reliability limit these individuals who are reported to
have higher healthcare needs from accessing timely and quality care.

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Rural populations statistically have
lower income and employment rates, education levels, and life expectancy. and
have limited access to mental health support (higher suicide rates). They tend
to be farmers/agricultural suppliers which present higher risk of occupational
hazards and lack insurance or healthcare benefits. The higher morbidity rates call
for action in disease prevention, health promotion and more efficient access to
care as critical strategies in addressing the rural healthcare crisis in
Northern Ontario.