Optimism Expressed Over Proposed Healthcare Changes

The chair of the Erie-St.Clair Local Health Integration Network believes there are some positive elements to a plan to revamp the healthcare system.

The Ontario government has announced plans to merge several agencies into one "super agency" while also creating health teams to guide patients through the healthcare system.

A new agency, called Ontario Health, will consolidate local health integration networks, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario and several other agencies.

Ontario Health Teams will be established to provide access to health services, including primary care, hospitals, home and community care, palliative care, residential long-term care, and mental health and addictions services.

Dr. Martin Girash says a lot of the detail surrounding the changes has not been revealed but he's optimistic the health teams will improve service and provide a seamless system.

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Board Chair, Erie St. Clair Local Health integration Network, Dr. Martin Girash (Courtesy Erie St. Clair LHIN)

"If you're in the hospital and you get discharged, that you don't just get discharged you actually what we call a warm handoff," says Girash. "That is once the determination is made that you're going to be discharged, you immediately have a home care worker who will support your re-entry back home."

Despite optimism surrounding the changes, he hopes the staff at the LHINs and other agencies are treated properly.

"In order for that to occur and for families to continue to have the quality service that they are used, that staff are attended to and that we support staff in the transition period," says Girash.

He admits that the elimination of the LHINs means healthcare will be centrally run from Toronto, but he hopes the health teams will be a voice for local health concerns.