Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Board Notes

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Board Meeting Notes October 17, 2012

Nov 02, 2012
Health unit strives for baby-friendly status Sexual orientation and gender identity should not be barriers Health unit receives awards as employer, community partner

Health unit strives for baby-friendly status

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is working to meet an international standard as a Baby Friendly agency. The board of health received an orientation to the initiative this month as one of the requirements to be accredited under the standards of the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative.

Peggy Govers, the health unit’s manager of child health, explained that the standards will enhance existing information and support for families and health unit staff with newborns, particularly related to breastfeeding. A new policy sets out the minimum standards of service required to be recognized by the initiative. Once it has reached that level of service, the health unit will be able to encourage other businesses and agencies to seek similar baby-friendly status in their organizations.

Sexual orientation and gender identity should not be barriers

A culture of inclusivity has long been encouraged at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and that encompasses all sexual and gender minorities.

Board of health members learned that over the past year, staff was required to attend a brief workshop on the concept of “positive space.” Through the process employees were encouraged to take a look at their work environment and consider potential barriers or bias towards staff or members of the general public in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity. Jillian Fenik, manager of the sexual health program, explained that the positive space program was developed at the University of Toronto in 1996 and has been adapted by many agencies and Universities throughout Canada. With the health unit now engaged in the program, other organizations are encouraged to consider incorporating the positive space principles into their work environment.

Health unit receives awards as employer, community partner

The Registered Practical Nurses’ Association of Ontario has presented the health unit with its Employer Award of Excellence. The award is handed out annually in recognition of employers that demonstrate outstanding achievement in integrating registered practical nurses (RPNs) into multi-disciplinary team settings, innovating in the use of RPNs and maintaining a supportive work environment. Healthy Living Service Director, Joyce Fox said it was particularly rewarding to have been nominated for the award by staff members.

The health unit was also recently honoured by the Catulpa Community Services Board with its Exceptional Partnership Award for its long standing work with the Canadian Action Program for Children, Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program, Smoking Cessation Program and Early Intervention Program. Family Health Service Director, Carolyn Shoreman shared that health unit staff have been providing much needed health information and resources to pregnant women and new mothers for over 18 years through this partnership.


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