On Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, the Ontario government announced the approval of 13 new Ontario Health Teams across the province, one of which will be serving the Kingston region.
The Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Health Team will serve Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, including Kingston, Greater Napanee, and the surrounding rural communities. The Ontario government is providing $2.4 million in funding for the 13 Health Teams, which aim to “provide better, connected care to patients,” according to the provincial government, which described the teams as “a new way of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as one coordinated team to improve patient outcomes.” The new collaborative model is helping the province respond more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 and end “hallway healthcare,” the government said.
“Today’s investment will not only help our province respond more effectively to the current global pandemic, but it will also help us end hallway healthcare and build a better, patient-focused health care system for the future,” said Premier Doug Ford upon announcing the new Health Teams. “While these new teams will provide better support for more Ontarians, we won’t stop until every person and every community in Ontario has access to this new improved model of care.”
According to the provincial government, Ontario Health Teams will allow patients to experience easier transitions from one healthcare provider to another, such as between hospitals, home care providers, or long-term care homes. Through the Health Teams, patients will have one patient record, and one care plan and, as Ontario Health Teams are established, patients and families will also be able to access 24/7 navigation and care coordination services, including the further expansion of virtual care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The addition of the 13 new Health Teams brings the total number of teams to 42, which will cover over 86 per cent of Ontario’s population at maturity, the provincial government said, noting that Ontario is investing approximately $28 million to directly support the 42 teams in fiscal year 2020-2021.
“While still in its early stages, Ontario Health Teams are already breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care for both patients and our frontline heroes,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by helping to address challenges in a variety of areas, and they are essential to building a connected health care system centred around the needs of patients.”
Here in Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, A wide range of close to 60 partners has committed to build a health system that works together to help people in the region achieve their “optimal health and wellbeing,” according to a release from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). Those partners include family health practices, home and community care, mental health and addiction services, long-term care, patients, caregivers, hospitals, public health, community support services, and municipalities.
“Our response to COVID-19 has demonstrated how effectively we can work together; and now with our local health team, we will further strengthen existing relationships and work to break down the silos that make it difficult for patients to receive the right care and supports in a timely manner,” said Dr. Kim Morrison, Chief of Staff at Lennox and Addington County General Hospital, who co-led the Ontario Health Team application advisory committee with Dr. David Pichora, President and CEO of KHSC.
“This is a great opportunity to come together as one team to make meaningful change for people, their caregivers, and health service providers,” agreed Kerry Stewart, a Kingston resident and member of the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Ontario Health Team application advisory committee. “I see us collaborating with each other to build a really vibrant system of care in this region that is easy for people to get into, and easy for them to navigate through.”
Hastings-Lennox and Addington MPP Daryl Kramp said he was very pleased to see the official launch of the Ontario Health Team for Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
“A lot of skilled and dedicated local medical people, including health advocates and administrators across the counties, have put a lot of work into this for many months and we can all be very thankful to them for going the extra mile even as they have been fighting flat-out against Covid-19,” Kramp said.
According to KHSC, over the coming year, the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Ontario Health Team will be working on how to connect residents to a home of primary care and allied health providers working as one team to coordinate care, a “Health Home.” A “Health Neighbourhood,” a network of additional health and social supports and services, will be organized around people in their “Health Homes” to ensure timely access to care.
“Our goal is for people to have the majority of their care coordinated and delivered by their Health Homes, including helping people navigate and transition to the care provided in the Health Neighbourhood,” said Dr. Morrison. “When the Health Homes are working well for people, we may be able to delay or decrease their need for services such as long-term care and hospital-based care.” For more information about the Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Ontario Health Team, visit www.flaoht.ca.