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CIO announced for Niagara region LHIN

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Bala Kathiresan (pictured at left), the chief information officer of the Niagara Health System (NHS), will be seconded to lead the development of an eHealth strategic plan for all hospitals located within the Hamilton Niagara Burlington Haldimand Norfolk Brant Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Kathiresan, who joined the NHS in August 2000, will be responsible for the development and implementation of a region-wide eHealth strategy in his new role as integrated vice president and chief information officer for the LHIN 4 hospitals.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to begin to build effective and successful relationships and a technological platform across our LHIN and achieve the establishment of an interoperable electronic health record,” said Kathiresan. ”We’ll do this in part by aligning our eHealth strategy with both the provincial and federal eHealth strategies.”

He added that, “eHealth is the key enabler of our government’s transformation agenda and our LHIN area hospital Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are showing leadership in creating this Integrated Vice President and CIO position. I am very excited to have this opportunity to create an eHealth strategy that will significantly improve the provision of patient care.”

The CEOs heading the eleven hospital organizations serving in the Hamilton Niagara Burlington Haldimand Norfolk Brant LHIN began deliberations earlier this year to address technology issues and requirements and developed an agreement to move forward on the e-Health strategy.

“Our government is introducing LHINs in order to integrate and improve the way healthcare is planned, coordinated and ultimately delivered to Ontarians,” said Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman. “A comprehensive e-health strategy is a big part of our plan, and Ontarians will see the difference it makes in the quality of care they are receiving.”

Kathiresan’s portfolio with the NHS includes Information Technology/Systems, Telecommunications, Health Records, Patient Registration, Health Sciences Library, Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Medicine. He provides operational support as the second-in-command to the president and chief executive officer.

At the NHS, Kathiresan led the development and implementation of a multi-million dollar Information Systems (IS) Strategic Plan supporting the amalgamation of eight hospital sites which formed the NHS. He also created the foundation for electronic health records and led the formation of a Public Sector Alliance to successfully bring fibre optics infrastructure to the Niagara peninsula.

Among other accomplishments with the NHS, Kathiresan chaired the OHA eHealth Standards Working Group and represented hospitals on the provincial Health Information Standards Committee (OHISC). He also initiated discussions with the Hamilton and Niagara hospitals to identify opportunities to collaborate on IS initiatives and work on a Picture Archiving and Communications System project collaboratively with the LHIN hospitals.

“Bala is a highly qualified professional with a solid track record of setting a strategic vision, leading, executing and delivering results in a dynamic and continually changing environment,” said Jane Rufrano, CEO of Hotel Dieu Hospital.

Debbie Sevenpifer, president and CEO of the Niagara Health System, adds that, “Although Bala will be deeply missed at the NHS, we are obviously thrilled that his skills and abilities in information and communications technology will be put to good use for the thousands of patients served by the hospitals in our new LHIN. This is a very positive step for the hospitals that will be served by the new LHIN.”

Kathiresan has over 18 years of experience in Information Technology and prior to joining the NHS, he was vice president of Healthtech Inc., a Toronto-based healthcare information technology consulting firm. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Kathiresan will begin his new role in June 2005. He will report to the presidents and chief executive officers of the Hamilton Niagara Burlington Haldimand Norfolk Brant LHIN hospitals.

Hospitals serving in the Hamilton Niagara Burlington Haldimand Norfolk Brant LHIN are:

• The Brantford General Hospital
• Haldimand War Memorial Hospital
• Hamilton Health Sciences Hospital
• Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital
• Niagara Health System
• Norfolk General Hospital
• Hotel Dieu Hospital
• St. Joseph’s Health Care System
• St. Peter’s Hospital
• West Haldimand General Hospital
• West Lincoln Memorial Hospital
• The Willett Hospital