Board of Health Highlights for April 2018

April 11, 2018

Public Health is governed by a Board of Health consisting of provincially appointed local municipal councillors, mayors and community members and is mandated to support the well-being of individuals and communities. See the members of the Board of Health.

Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health, updated the Board on:

Wee Talk

Wee Talk is a preschool speech and language program delivered in partnership with Public Health, St. Joseph’s Health Care and Groves Memorial Community Hospital. Speech and language disorders affect approximately 5-10% of children ages 0-6. Communication disorders in children are often misdiagnosed as learning disabilities or behavioural problems. 35% of children referred to Public Health for screening and assessing communication difficulties require speech therapy services. Parents are critical to the success of any speech therapy service and currently, parents must attend an in-person orientation before services can commence. In September 2018, an interactive online parent orientation will reduce wait times between referral and direct therapy, as parents will be able to complete the online program rather than wait for an in-person session. A full report is available (PDF).

Oral Health

Children and youth at risk of poor oral health receive timely and effective detection and identification through Public Health’s Oral Health programs staffed by dental hygienists and dental assistants. Children and youth from low-income families have improved access to oral health care through preventative dental clinics at Public Health offices, as well as the five portable clinics which are held in rural areas to reach priority populations which may face transportation barriers. In 2017, oral health screening was provided for 11,905 children in their schools where 237 children were identified with urgent dental needs and 1000 with non-urgent needs. Another 1,699 children were seen at a Public Health preventative dental clinic where 579 children were identified as having urgent dental needs. Once identified, Public Health can help families get the treatment needed through Healthy Smiles Ontario. In the fall of 2018, Public Health will expand its free dental program by having a dentist on site in its Guelph offices to assist children directly. A full report is available (PDF).

Lyme Disease

Public Health has seen an increase in tick submissions, as well as an increase in the rate of Lyme disease, which corresponds to increases seen provincially. This may be due in part to increased awareness of ticks and Lyme disease among the public. However, it is known that the population and geographic range of blacklegged ticks is growing in Ontario, and is expected to continue to grow with this region’s favourable habitat for ticks. Public Health’s tick and Lyme disease program will focus on surveillance, as well as public communication and education. A full report is available here (PDF).