Council discusses impact of provincial changes to health services By Pauline Kerr

Huron-Kinloss council heard a presentation at the Aug. 19 council meeting from Michael Barrett, president and CEO of South Bruce Grey Health Centre, on significant changes coming to our health system. The People’s Health Care Act received Royal Assent on April 18 of this year. There are two main elements, the first of which will be the consolidation of provincial health agencies under the umbrella of Ontario Health. Barrett told council the other element is the one that will have the greatest impact on Huron-Kinloss and the entire Bruce-Grey area – the creation of Ontario Health Teams that will bring together health providers including hospitals, long-term care homes and primary care into one connected organization. A 12-member board of directors was appointed for the Ontario Health Agency on March 8; the same date the Order in Council appointments for boards including those of the LHINs (Local Health Integration Networks) and Cancer Care Ontario were revoked.
Council discusses impact of provincial changes to health services Barrett said the Ontario Health Teams are being introduced as a new way of organizing and delivering health services in local communities. “The government is trying to ensure the patient goes from one organization to another seamlessly,” he said, noting patient reviews often show they’re pleased with the care they receive while in hospital, and think the world of their family doctor, but things go wrong when they’re transitioning from hospital care to long-term care or home care. “All these handoffs are cumbersome to the patient,” he said. “They will all be co-ordinated under one umbrella,” even if the organizations are not at one location. Eventually, they’ll all be funded in a single stream. The process of changing over to the new systems has begun with the health ministry’s call for self-assessments regarding their readiness to proceed, from interested groups of providers and organizations. Deadline for the initial round of submissions was May. Barrett said 150 of these assessments were received, 74 of which met the ministry’s “core components.” Thirty-one of them have been invited to move to the next stage and submit a full application. The remaining 43 have been identified as needing more work. Numbers will eventually be narrowed down even further. Barrett said in his presentation to council that “the number of Ontario Health Teams to be approved in this first round has not been confirmed, but references have been made to approximately eight to 10.” Some area communities have made submissions, including Huron-Perth, but Bruce-Grey has not. The reason, said Barrett, is, “We weren’t quite ready and decided not now.” He added that a letter has been sent to the ministry stating Bruce-Grey intends to submit its selfassessment for the Dec. 4 deadline. This will give the local application the advantage of “watching the others and avoiding the pitfalls.” Health service providers including hospitals, family health teams, longterm care homes, home care, community support agencies and others from across Grey-Bruce have met five times in the last five months, Barrett told council. “We have a lot of good things going for us in Grey-Bruce,” he said. Unlike health organizations in large cities, “the partners here know each other.” He noted the doctors are the people who run the hospital. The next step locally will be to “continue to engage providers, patients and physicians over the summer and fall to prepare for a readiness assessment submission.” While others are focusing on mental health and addiction, the GreyBruce focus will be on frail seniors. Coun. Jim Hanna, who chaired the council meeting in the absence of both Mayor Mitch Twolan and Deputy Mayor Don Murray, asked how the changes will apply to the local situation. The new clinic in Lucknow is about to reopen, with two new doctors, he said. “Travel is difficult for frail seniors,” noted Hanna. He asked about the possibility of doing something similar in Ripley. Barrett told him this type of clinic “relies heavily on the municipality.” The other question on a lot of minds was what’s happening with the Kincardine hospital. See “Local hospital anticipates response on renovation plan” in this issue.

Council discusses impact of provincial changes to health services By Pauline Kerr was last modified: August 27th, 2019 by Tammy Schneider

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