After a comprehensive, three-year review of all possible options, Haliburton Highlands Health Services announced April 12 it will become a partner with the Kawartha Lakes Ontario Health Team.

Introduced by the provincial government in February 2019, the OHT model was designed to improve the coordination of care and services for patients and their families across multiple health and wellness settings within their communities.

Teams can consist of municipalities, hospitals, primary care and community support providers, long-term care providers, public health, mental health and addiction agencies, and other service providers who all share resources and patient records.

Carolyn Plummer, HHHS president and CEO, said it made most sense to partner with Kawartha Lakes OHT considering how closely the organization works with many of its associate agencies.

“We know many people in Haliburton County already access services provided by members of KL-OHT and HHHS already has strong relationships with those providers,” Plummer said. “This means we can work more closely together to deliver better coordinated care to [our] patients.

Plummer told The Highlander the decision was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with negotiations with various OHTs put on hold.

She said there would be several benefits from the partnership, including improved communication between hospital staff and other agencies, and more referral options for patients.

“The Kawartha Lakes OHT aims to reduce confusion, support more efficient navigation between care settings and help keep people healthier for longer,” Plummer said. “Patients should have a more connected care experience as they move between different providers.”

She stressed there will be no changes to frontline care, with residents encouraged to contact their regular health providers if they have an issue, or report to the emergency department in Haliburton or Minden if in a crisis.

On its website, the Kawartha Lakes OHT states its primary mission is on enhancing coordinated care and services for seniors 65 years and older who live alone or have a poor support network, are frail with complex medical needs or are cognitively unwell, or have been hospitalized within the past year.