North West LHIN’s health system planning and funding functions are now part of Ontario Health, a government agency responsible for ensuring Ontarians continue to receive high-quality health care services where and when they need them. 

Resources for Health Care Providers

Comprehensive Spine Program 

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, in partnership with the neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons providing care to your patients across the North West LHIN (North West LHIN) are pleased to announce the launch of a Comprehensive Spine Program with a Centralized Intake for all requests for neurosurgical consultation and orthopaedic spine consultation. This is an expansion of the services provided by the Rapid Access Clinic (RAC).

Effective March 4, 2019, any referral previously sent to the following surgeons will need to be directed to the Rapid Access Clinic:

  • Dr. Iftikharul Haq
  • Dr. Graeme Marchuk
  • Dr. Travis Marion
  • Dr. Stephen Mc Cluskey
  • Dr. David Puskas

A new standardized Spine Program referral form (see attached) has been created. Upon receipt of a spine program referral, the Rapid Access Clinic will route your spine referral to the best fit next available surgeon based on the diagnosis category. Primary care providers and patients may continue to request a preferred surgeon. As per the diagnosis, as this program evolves, the development of further subspecialty interests will as well, and patients will be referred to the most appropriate practitioner. Please note: Patients who have had spine surgery will be sent back to the surgeon who performed the initial /latest surgery.

The referral process for the ISAEC Low Back Pain Program remains unchanged. ISAEC is an innovative, upstream, shared model of care in which patients receive rapid low back pain assessment, education and stratified evidence-informed, self-management plans. It is designed to decrease the prevalence of unmanageable chronic low back pain, reduce opioid initiation, and reduce unnecessary diagnostic imaging as well as unnecessary specialist referral.

The RAC-LBP (ISAEC) program is designed to support patients with: (1) persistent low back pain and/or related symptoms (e.g. sciatica, neurogenic claudication) 6 weeks to 12 months post-onset; and (2) recurrent/episodic unmanageable low back pain and/or related symptoms of less than 12 months post-recurrence.

Please continue to use the ISAEC referral form. You should not experience any disruption to your current referral process.

1. How to Refer to the Spine Central Intake

Please fax all Spine Program and ISAEC referrals to 1-844-497-2445 (toll free). For any telephone inquiries, please call us at 684-6965 or toll free at 1-833-706-9417. Please use the attached updated referral form for spine referrals.


2. What will happen to faxes not sent to the Rapid Access Clinic?

Faxes sent directly to a surgeon office will be returned to the requestor accompanied by a face sheet with instructors on how to refer to the Spine Program Rapid Access Clinic (see attached).


3. What if the referral has missing information?

Please try to provide as much relevant information as possible. If basic information required for proper triage is not complete, the referral will be returned with a face sheet identifying the missing components (see attached).

A complete referral will support triage and timely management of your patients.


Contact: Caroline Fanti – Program Director at or 807-684-6984


Ticks & Lyme Disease in the Thunder Bay District

It is the season when, as clinicians, we encounter patients who have questions and concerns about tick bites, rashes and the possibility of Lyme disease. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has put together a helpful algorithm to support decision making for clinicians encountering patients with questions about ticks and Lyme disease. The link is here and will remain here for the rest of the season:


Clinical Guidance Document

Management of Tick Bites and Investigation of Early Localized Lyme Disease

Clinical Guidance Document


Regional Rehabilitative Care Program

The Regional Rehabilitative Care Program is pleased to launch a valuable new tool, a website specific to adult, physical rehabilitation in the North West LHIN:

The website features:

  • Contact Information 
  • Best practice information and resources for each of the care streams
    • Medically Complex
    • Physical Rehabilitation (orthopaedic and neurological)
    • Geriatric Assessment and Rehabilitative Care
  • News and Announcements
  • Reports
  • Interactive Service Map

The rehabilitation services map features search-ability by sub-region, community or care stream and has information on adult physical rehabilitation services, programs, and specialist clinics.

The intent of this information is for health care providers, however, may also be appropriate for clients, families and the public.

The website addresses three of the five recommendations from the North West LHIN Regional Rehabilitative Care Program Capacity Planning Report:

  • To improve client experience and improve direct access from primary care providers to community rehabilitation programs;
  • Facilitate adherence to best practices for rehabilitative care to improve client-centred care; and
  • Enhance utilization of innovative technologies to improve access to rehabilitative care services closer to home, particularly in remote and under-serviced areas.


Mental Health and Addictions

Mental Health

There are resources available that will help primary care providers to support their patients with accessing services.  The resource document here outlines several of these from phone based services, to online/phone based coaching to econsults and telepsychiatry.

Did you know that currently there are Mental Health and Addictions Nurses (MHANs) in several communities across the North West LHIN? These MHAN nurses are funded through North West LHIN Home and Community Care, and they work in a school setting. Referrals are generally received from within the school system, but physicians can also refer to the Mental Health and Addictions Nurse as well.  A brochure for this service, and a referral form for this available for download below: 


Two of the resources available to all clinicians in the province in order to support patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety are the Bounceback program and "Big White Wall". The first is a phone and workbook based coaching service, and the second is a 24 hour a day, online, moderated peer support resource.

The Canadian Mental Health Association is happy to provide you with printed materials about each of these services. This includes toolkits for primary care providers that contain in-depth information on each service, as well as BounceBack materials for clients – client brochures, waiting room posters etc. To order a kit, you can contact your local CMHA branch or email – please specify the number of toolkits you would like to receive and include your mailing address. In the meantime, you can access BounceBack resources online at

To receive printed flyers and wallet cards for clients on Big White Wall please contact:

If you are interested in reviewing the information provided during the provincial educational webinars please follow the link below to access a recorded version of the webinar at,  the Password to access this link is: BB2018 


Regional Orthopaedics Program


Delivering Musculoskeletal Care in a Different Way to Enhance Patient Care Experience. The North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN’s) Regional Orthopaedics Program meets the needs for people with conditions such as back pain, traumatic injuries, arthritis, and hip and knee osteoarthritis. 


Musculoskeletal Strategy

With the goal of supporting patients in the North West LHIN to access hip and knee assessments in a more timely way, the rapid access clinic process was created and was launched April 1, 2018.  The document below has answers to commonly asked questions about the service.