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Southlake, partners get thumbs up to continue Ontario Health Team application

The Southlake Community Ontario Health Team will continue planning in August and September and submit their application in early October
Southlake Regional Health Centre. File photo/NewmarketToday

Southlake is pleased to announce that, along with its partners, it is moving forward to the application stage of the Ontario Health Team (OHT) designation process.

OHTs are the new integrated teams of local health care providers that, under the provincial government’s health care reforms, will come together to improve access and provide higher quality care to their communities.

The ultimate goal of the proposed Southlake Community OHT is to bring connected care to our communities and end hallway health care in our part of the province.

The Southlake Community OHT’s initial proposal was one of 31 submissions that received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Health last week to move to the next stage in the application process to form the first OHTs in the province.

The Southlake Community OHT has proposed to provide integrated health care for the residents of Newmarket, Aurora, Georgina, East Gwillimbury and Bradford West Gwillimbury, a diverse population of around 260,000 people

Together with a number of partner organizations and patient input, the Southlake Community OHT is designing a local health care system that is easier to navigate for patients and families.

There will be better communication between providers that will result in smoother transitions for patients between settings (for example from the hospital to home, from home to long-term care). OHTs will eventually include all health care providers within a specific geographic area, including hospitals, home care providers, primary care, long-term care and community support services.

“This exciting news is a testament to our amazing community partners. Their ideas to improve the health care system and their energy for change are inspiring,” said Arden Krystal, President and CEO, Southlake Regional Health Centre, one of the partner organizations. “By working together, we can increase access to care, reduce wait times and keep people healthy.”

The partners in the Southlake Community OHT have historically worked together to improve the health of their communities. “The strength of our initial submission is rooted in the years of collaboration between the individual partners,” added Krystal.

A key part of the OHT model is that partner organizations will have a shared accountability for the health of the population they serve, and a shared responsibility to work together to make the local health care system work better for patients and families.

“This means the hospital will work closely with community support services, home care providers, long-term care homes and primary care providers like family doctors and nurse practitioners, to move more resources to underserviced areas, and focus on keeping people healthy and out of the hospital,” said Krystal. “We expect these improvements to result in significantly less visits to Southlake’s Emergency Department, which is one of the most overcrowded in Ontario.”

One of the priority populations that the Southlake Community OHT will focus on is people with mental health and addictions challenges. “By partnering together, we can improve access to care and better support families and caregivers, as well,” said Rebecca Shields, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe, one of the partner organizations.

The Southlake Community OHT partners will continue planning in August and September and submit their application in early October. Patients, families and caregivers will continue to play a key role. Additional community engagement opportunities are also being planned, to build on a series of recent open community forums held across the region to get feedback from the public about the priorities that the OHT should focus on.

About the proposed Southlake Community Ontario Health Team

The Southlake Community OHT is made up of a number of local health care organizations that share a commitment to improving the health of the communities they serve:

  • Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • Aurora-Newmarket Family Health Team
  • Bayshore HealthCare
  • Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe
  • Enhanced Care Medical Clinic
  • Extendicare
  • Georgina Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic
  • LOFT Community Services
  • SE Health
  • Southlake Academic Family Health Team
  • Regional Municipality of York – Paramedic & Seniors Services