It appears the rumours are true... the province is creating one super health agency.
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announces the Government of Ontario's healthcare plan at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare in Toronto on February 26, 2019.
Stressing her government's commitment to universal access to healthcare, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care has announced a new health agency.
But Elliott has said the legislation will not include two-tier care, private hospitals, making patients pay for more services out of pocket, or privatizing services such as long-term care inspections and the air ambulance service. "Residents in Nipissing can be confident that there will be a sustainable health care system for them when and where they need it". Nothing's going to change that way.
As Ontario Health Teams are established, people will continue to be able to choose who provides their care and will have more care choices available through technology.
Closer to home, high Sault Area Hospital occupancy levels, often prompting the facility to operate at more than 100 per cent capacity, are the result of swelling numbers of alternate-level-of-care patients, the largest proportion of whom are awaiting long-term-care beds.
"If you're living in Timmins or you're living in Smooth Rock Falls, you're going to be at the losing end of that equation because it really works more in big cities than in small or rural cities across Ontario".
"Too much time and attention is spent on maintaining a siloed and fragmented system, and far too many people believe it is the patient's or the family's job to navigate this complicated system during what is already one of the most traumatic and stress-filled periods in their lives, " Elliott said. Ontario Health Teams will focus on existing local health care providers partnering or working together to provide coordinated care, or teams of providers serving a specialized patient population such as specialty pediatric or patients with complex health needs. People will still need home care.
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"I think that sense of urgency to say, 'What can we do to increase service to support this family so that they don't need to go and spend 12 hours in a hospital hallway?'"
Patients would have help in navigating the public health care system 24/7.
He saw similar problems in other provinces, including Alberta and British Columbia, where the pendulum has swung between local and centralized health-care delivery without clear improvements in patient care.
Ontario government officials struggled to explain the benefit of new healthcare legislation the Ford government introduced in the provincial legislature on Tuesday, arriving to brief reporters without the document itself nor any supporting documentation and deferring on questions about cost to implement, savings to be had, and targets to improve patient care. Ontario Health Teams will be responsible for delivering all of the care for their patients, understanding their health care history and needs, and directly connecting them to the different types of care they need.
A news release states, "Ontario now has a large network of provincial and regional agencies, clinical oversight bodies and 1,800 health service provider organizations". With safeguards in place to protect personal health information, patients will also have an option to securely access digital health services, such as having access to their electronic health records and virtual care options for patients. "Theoretically I would have access to one patient record so there would be no delay in patient care in that regard", said Sharad Rai, the president of the London and District Academy of Medicine.
Dr. Nadia Alam, president of the Ontario Medical Association, welcomed the proposed changes, saying patients are now struggling to get the care that they need.
"One in six hospital beds are occupied by someone who needs to be in long-term care or at home or assisted living, " he said.
Elliott said the government will begin creating Ontario Health this spring but said the health care system overhaul will not happen overnight.