By Jenn Watt
Published June 18 2019
The provincial government put out the call for regional groups to apply to become Ontario Health Teams following the announcement that the previous Local Health Integration Networks would be dissolved.
They got more interest than they expected.
Over the weekend The Globe and Mail reported that the Ministry of Health received more than 150 applications by groups seeking to coordinate health services in their communities.
Haliburton Highlands Ontario Health Team is one of those groups.
Christine Elliott minister of health indicated that in all likelihood more than the 30 to 50 health teams first conceived would be created given the level of enthusiasm.
This is good news for us in the Highlands – as long as the Ministry of Health is willing to consider what would be a relatively small coalition of health providers.
Last month Haliburton Highlands Health Services CEO Carolyn Plummer announced that her organization along with Point in Time Centre for Children Youth and Parents Kawartha North Family Health Team Haliburton Highlands Family Health Team Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft Extendicare Paramed and CarePartners had come together to propose the HHOHT.
Because of the overwhelming interest deadlines that were to have a shortlist approved by early June were pushed back. The shortlist will now be announced in late June or early July with full applications in by September.
As of press time HHHS hadn’t yet heard back on its application and while it seems like a long-shot that our little Haliburton Highlands could be granted health team status given our geography it also makes sense.
Health services integration has been ongoing here for years. First Community Care was brought under the umbrella of HHHS along with the hospice program formerly run by SIRCH Community Services. Collaboration has continued with partnerships with Ross Memorial Hospital and most recently the highly successful teamwork on the Haliburton County Youth Hub. The latter which involves Point in Time as the key partner supported by several other community organizations covering housing employment physical and mental health is in the beginning stages but has already accomplished much.
Partnerships are already happening successfully.
But more important than that the Haliburton Highlands is a somewhat isolated spot. It takes at least an hour to drive to any major health centre. Our services can be integrated with hospitals in Peterborough Lindsay or Bracebridge only to a certain extent. We will always be too far away for patients to easily move from one location to the next.
We don’t know much about the Ontario Health Team structure at this point but we do know the impetus is to give decision-making power to the professionals on-the-ground who know their communities best.
Granting the Highlands its own Ontario Health Team would give the community more control over its health care.