HHHS still has unknowns around the province’s changes to hospital governance.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) announced Bill 74, the People’s Health Care Act 2019, in late February.

“As these changes take place and the system evolves, the MOHLTC has indicated that there will not be any disruption in health services for persons receiving care,” Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) CEO Carolyn Plummer told a hospital board meeting March 28.

She outlined the two major changes. The first is the consolidation of several provincial programs into a single agency called Ontario Health, which will be responsible for promoting health service integration and providing a single central point of accountability and oversight for healthcare in the province.

The consolidated agencies include Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, eHealth Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Shared Services Ontario, HealthForce Ontario, and all of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province.

Plummer said Ontario Health will be governed by a single board of directors which has already been established.

The second major change is to organize health service providers across several health sectors into 30-50 Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) with a focus on patients and specific local health needs.

She said that each OHT will bring together at least three different health services, which could include hospital care, primary care, long-term care, home and community care, mental health and addictions care, and palliative care.

“The OHTs will be responsible for working as a coordinated team to deliver services in an integrated way to support seamless transitions for patients and improve system navigation for patients,” Plummer said.

She added that OHTs are intended to provide care for population sizes of 50,000 to 300,000 people. These teams will be established in phases across the province.

The MOHLTC has indicated that more information on how health service providers can become an OHT would be made available in March.

Plummer told the board meeting, “It is too early to know what this legislation will mean for HHHS or how it will affect health services in Haliburton County; however given our experience as a rural health hub, our well established partnerships and collaborations, and our current integrated services (hospital, long-term care, community programs, palliative care, mental health), we have an opportunity to take a leadership role together with our partners in developing the OHT model.”

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