Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — Muskoka has made the cut with a new provincial health plan intended to help patients ease from hospital stays to home care support, “with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan.”

A “team” approach that unites all providers under one umbrella, as never before.

This morning, PC MPP Norman Miller was at the Muskoka Paramedics Services head office here to announce the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team (OHT), one of 24 being rolled out across the province.

He made the announcement on behalf of Health Minister Christine Elliott.

In an accompanying release, she said: “This is an exciting time for health care in Ontario as we finally break down the long-standing barriers that have prevented care providers from working directly with each other to support patients throughout their health care journey.

“Together with our health care partners, the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team will play an essential role in delivering on our commitment to end hallway health care and building a connected and sustainable public health care system centred around the needs of patients.”

She and Miller and their local health partners plans to integrate, organize and deliver services locally under a collaborative partnership model.

The local OHT, which has been in the planning stages in various forms in recenet years, “has a vision to build a health care system that is uniquely Muskoka.”

It will be coordinated locally and anchored in primary care and community engagement, the team brings together a full spectrum of providers across primary care, hospital, home and community care and social services.

“I would like to thank all the health care providers and organizations that helped plan the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team,” said Miller. “There is lots of work to be done, but with their dedication and hard work, we will continue to improve health care in our communities and ensure Ontarians get the care they deserve.”

The work will be implemented in phases and over time will provide care for everyone within the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team’s population.

For Year One, the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team will focus on adults over 65 who are experiencing transitions in the health care system and are receiving care from two or more providers.

The Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team will begin implementing some of their proposed programs and services in 2020 and will continue communicate with patients and families about the changes and improvements they can expect in their community.

“The shared purpose and commitment that has moved us to this point of readiness is what makes Muskoka and Area great. We have already gained game changing insights simply by sharing our ‘stories’ and ideas of what caring for a community could and should look like. Working together in Muskoka and Area has always been our strength,” said Dr. David Mathies, family doctor and local OHT steering committee chair.

“The Canadian Mental Health Association, Muskoka-Parry Sound Branch is excited about this announcement and we hope for improved transitions for our clients through integrated mental health and addiction services,” added Diane Brown-Demarco, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka-Parry Sound.

“All of Muskoka and area will see the benefits in a coordinated and integrated health care delivery model. We have all been making a great deal of effort to come to this point and have earned the support of primary care clinicians for this model, and I am looking forward to what will be coming next, for all of us,” said Dr. Keith Cross, Family Physician, Cottage Country Family Health Team.

“I understand the importance of families having an advocate and committed caregiver for their loved one. My father-in-law was recently receiving crisis home care, in our home, as arrangements for a placement in long-term care were being determined. I was able to experience at close range, the expertise, dedication and compassionate support of health care providers, and also recognized gaps in the system. I am very excited to be a part of such an essential initiative that is focused on delivering high quality, coordinated and integrated health care,” said Irene Wright, patient family caregiver partner.

“Being an active, driven and empowered patient/family/caregiver advocate is my passion. I have extensive lived experience through my personal on-going health system journey and most recently as a caregiver for my elderly parents.

“I’m a patient partner with Canadian Donation Transplant Research Program and Health Standards Organization and have also advised as a patient for Health Quality Ontario and Clinical Trials Ontario. Being a part of the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team gives me a chance to provide a patient’s voice to the development and design of integrated care,” said Sandra Holdsworth, also a patient family caregiver partner.

Natalie Bubela, President & CEO of Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, said: “Muskoka and area’s acute care, primary care providers, mental health and community and social services sector have a long history of working together and this approval recognizes that strength in our community. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is committed to this initiative as we believe it will foster more integrated and seamless care, and ultimately, healthier communities.”

MPP Norm Miller, centre, was joined at the annoucement by team members and partners at the Muskoka EMS station in Bracebridge Friday. (Photo by Janine van den Heuvel, MAOHT)

Fast Facts:

  • An Ontario Health Team will be responsible for delivering care for their patients, understanding their health care history, directly connecting them to the different types of care they need, and providing 24/7 help in navigating the health care system.
  • Ontarians can be confident that they can continue to contact their health care providers as they always have to access the health care they need.
  • The first wave of Ontario Health Teams is being approved after an extensive readiness assessment process, which involved significant time, collaboration, research and effort from partners across the health care sector.
  • The government will continue working with its partners to review their applications to become an Ontario Health Team.

For more info:

Ontario Taking Next Step in Building a Connected Public Health Care System for Patients

Ontario’s Government for the People to Break Down Barriers to Better Patient Care

Building a Connected Public Health Care System for the Patient

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)