Grey-Bruce healthcare providers pitching Ontario Health Team for better collaboration

·4 min read

A new team is launching in Grey-Bruce that will aim to revamp the local healthcare system.

“The goal of an Ontario Health Team (OHT) is to ensure that certain defined initiatives are changed in a collaborative fashion,” explained Al Madden CEO of the South East Grey Community Health Centre during a presentation to the Grey Highlands council last week.

In 2019, Ontario’s Ministry of Health introduced new legislation that would see the creation of a number of OHTs across the province.

The concept of an OHT is to streamline and integrate the services of healthcare providers in a defined geographical area to allow providers to better work together and improve services to patients.

OHTs are expected to involve all levels of care, including primary care, hospital, mental health, addictions, long-term care, and home and community care.

“The OHT will provide a full and coordinated continuum of care for a defined population within Grey and Bruce, offering patients 24-hour access to coordinated care,” Madden said.

Each OHT is expected to operate within a single, clear framework and be funded through an integrated funding envelope.

“Any savings would be reinvested into frontline care and we would look at some of the digital remedies that we might have to improve collaboration,” Madden added.

In December, officials submitted initial documentation to the Ministry to pursue an OHT in the region.

Since that time, a planning committee has been launched and is comprised of a number of multi-sector health organizations, including family health teams; a community health centre; long-term care; home and community support services; Grey Bruce Hospice; primary care physicians; Canadian Mental Health Association; Keystone Child, Youth and Family Services; and all of the local hospital corporations.

“The purpose of the committee is to provide early oversight and direction on the creation of an OHT, and certainly to complete the application and get us to the process where we've been approved by the Ministry of the Health,” Madden said.

In July, 17 organizations, including Grey-Bruce OHT were approved to submit a full application.

In preparation to submit its full application, Grey-Bruce OHT has outlined that its first year of operations will centre on care transitions for frail senior patients, as well as those coping with mental health and addiction issues.

The OHT has also outlined a number of performance indicators, which include:

“I know with the ALC patients there are times when those patients are stuck between the hospital and a long-term care home, but the long-term care homes aren't available and they tie up to 25 per cent of our hospital beds,” said Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen, who applauded seeing ALC rates noted as a performance indicator.

In the next phase of the project, the Grey-Bruce OHT planning committee wants to hear from residents in Grey and Bruce counties.

In an effort to solicit feedback on the local healthcare system, the Grey-Bruce OHT has launched a public survey and is inviting all patients, clients, residents and caregivers to participate.

The survey results will help provide a better understanding of patient experience and provide information that will be used to help inform the design of the Grey-Bruce OHT.

The planning committee is expected to submit its full application to the Ministry of Health this December.

“The OHT is well-positioned to advance to the next phase of completing the application process. We are a collaborative stakeholder group and are committed to advance the inherent expectations of Ontario Health which will ultimately lead to an improved future state in Grey-Bruce,” said Gerry Glover, co-chair of the Grey-Bruce OHT.

The planning committee also recently hired Jennifer Kehoe as a transformation lead who will support the organization through the application process.

"We are excited to have Jennifer on board with us and to ensure the processes are in place to fully engage our partners, and develop goals that will best serve the health needs of our communities,” said Dana Howes, co-chair of the Grey-Bruce OHT planning committee.

In her previous positions, Kehoe worked for the South West Local Health Integration Network as a health system planner and was a co-lead on the North Grey Bruce Health Links project.

Kehoe will begin her position on Nov.16.

The Grey-Bruce OHT public survey can be found here. And for more information on the Grey-Bruce OHT, visit greybruceoht.ca.

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca