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MPPs officially announce new local health network

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece (pictured) and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson made the joint announcement on Dec. 6 at the Mitchell Golf and Country Club that the new Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team is one of the first of 24 to be activated in the province. (Dan McNee Photo)

Pettapiece: Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team to ‘end hallway health care’

MITCHELL – For the past several months, professionals representing over 60 local sectors had been tasked with forming the new health care network that will service the people of Huron and Perth counties. That new network was officially announced as operational last Friday, one of the first of 24 new Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) in the province.

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson made the joint announcement on Dec. 6 at the Mitchell Golf and Country Club – the site where much of the planning for the new Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team was conducted. Pettapiece and Thompson were joined by dozens of health care representatives to mark the occasion, approximately 10 months removed from the provincial government’s initial announcement through the People’s Health Care Act that the new restructuring would replace Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The extensive readiness assessment process that followed commenced in April, with over 2,000 hours committed to planning the new network.

“Today is a significant day for the future of health care right here in Huron and Perth,” Thompson told the crowd on hand. “And it’s a significant day for the future of health care in this province as well. I know for many, especially patients left frustrated by a disconnected and fractured system, today a lot of you as partners – front line workers – know that and probably feel that this type of announcement we’re going to share with you has been a long time coming.”

The newly-implemented OHTs “will implement a new model of organizing and delivering health care that better connects patients and providers in their communities to improve patient outcomes”, according to a release.

Pettapiece expanded on the OHTs during his address, outlining four ‘pillars’ of the plan that will work to ‘end hallway health care.’ The first two were specifically ‘prevention and health promotion’; and ‘receiving care in the right way and right place’.

“While in many ways the backbone of our health care system, the hospital isn’t always the best place for a patient to receive care,” he said. “Especially at a time when far too many are operating at more than 100 per cent capacity.”

The final two pillars are ‘integrating care to improve patient flow’; and building health care capacity in the province.

Pettapiece said that the Government of Ontario is pledging to invest $27 billion over 10 years in hospital infrastructure projects, building more long-term care beds and increasing community-based services.

“Both MPP Thompson and I continue to tell (Health) Minister (Christine) Elliott, and our colleagues at Queen’s Park, that the Huron-Perth can be a model for the rest of Ontario,” said Petapiece. “After today, you will have an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the province how we do things in rural Ontario.”

Thompson lauded the work performed to date by the health professionals involved in the formation of the new Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team, and said that their previous experience and connections within the former LHINs would be invaluable to making the transformation to the new system a smooth one.

“We all know our health care system is facing capacity pressures, and patients and families are getting lost in the health care system,” she said. “They’re falling through the cracks, waiting too long to get the care they not only need, but deserve.”

Thompson went on, “We’re going to break down the long-standing barriers that have prevented care for, and directly to, our patients. The Huron Perth and Area Ontario Health Team’s vision is a sustainable, people-driven system that drives to provide a positive experience for everyone.”

Dr. Paul Gill, co-chair of the OHT development process for Huron Perth and the former digital clinical lead for the Southwest LHIN, emceed the announcement, saying that the existing collaboration amongst local health care professionals and the technology they can utilize to better access patient records in a more efficient manner will be invaluable in launching the new OHTs.

“I think it puts us ahead of a lot of different areas of the province,” said Gill. “It’s a unique advantage we certainly hold. This is just a maturation of what we have already been doing for so long. Hopefully this is an opportunity for us to strengthen what we have been doing.
“Obviously, this is just the very beginning, and there is a lot of work to be done from this point forward.”