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Local push for Ontario Health Team continues

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Efforts to bring a health team to Durham Region are accelerating.

A group of regional healthcare and social service providers have been given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Health to apply to become an Ontario Health team (OHT).

Under the People’s Healthcare Act of 2019, the Ford government introduced the concept of OHTs.

According to the ministry’s website, these teams will “provide a new way of organizing and delivering care that is more connected to patients in their local communities.”

If approved, Durham OHT members would share the responsibility of delivering all health services in the geographic area.

Discussions involving more than 70 healthcare groups across Durham began earlier this year.

The formal application represents 16 organizations ranging from primary, acute, and home care providers, regional government, and groups advocating for patients, families, and caregivers.

The list includes Alzheimer Society Durham Region; Community Care Durham; Lakeridge Health; Grandview Children’s Centre; Carea Community Health Centre; March of Dimes Canada; Durham Region; and VON Durham, among others.

“Ontario Health Teams have an important opportunity to build on our partnerships in Durham Region to create an integrated health system singularly focused on the people we serve,” says Matthew Anderson, CEO and president of Lakeridge Health. “No matter where people access healthcare, they will be connected to the services they need in their local area.”

The main focus of activity for the proposed OHT would be on older adults living with frailty and people living with complex conditions.

Additional focus will be on patients with mental health and addictions issues.

The submission was boosted by 39 letters of support from organizations in the health, social services, education, and private sectors.

Joyce Perrin, a patient, family, and caregiver representative, says this is a positive step forward.

“As a member of the Durham community, my family and I depend on multiple healthcare services to support our medical needs. As a patient, I value the staff and their commitment to treating me with compassion and care,” Perrin states. “The coordination and integration of services such as acute and home care I have experienced throughout my cancer treatments is an example of smooth transitions from one organization to another in a truly integrated, personalized system of care that we plan for the Durham Region.”

Lisa Kitchen, a member of the Durham OHT team, says the next steps will be to complete the full application for October 2019.

The MOH is expected to announce the first OHTs in late-fall, she adds.

The Durham submission was one of 31 from across Ontario to move to the second stage of the application process. The province received more than 150 submissions.