Local health team ‘great partnership’: Plummer
By Vanessa Balintec
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the May 23 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services board.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services has sent its self-assessment of readiness to the Ministry of Health regarding a Haliburton Highlands Ontario Health Team.
“The approach that we’ve been taking over the last few years here in this community with our integrated services, with our rural health development, really set us up nicely to put a self-assessment and to be in a position to move forward as a health community,” said CEO and president of HHHS Carolyn Plummer.
In April, the provincial government passed Bill 74, The People’s Health Care Act that fundamentally changes two parts of the health-care system: select existing provincial agencies will be integrated into a single health agency called Ontario Health; and the establishment of Ontario Health Teams, a new model of care that will be responsible for delivering care, understanding patient health history, and connecting health-care providers and services around patients and families in the community.
“We had the honour and privilege to work with a number of health service providers in the community – we had great partnership, great collaboration around the table,” said Plummer. “I am very pleased that we were able to pull together that self assessment, with how well we work together as partners, and we’re looking forward to hearing a response from the Ministry of Health.”
The proposed Haliburton Highlands Ontario Health Team will bring together partners that represent all facets of the health-care system, including hospital, primary care, home care, community services, mental health, long-term care, and midwifery services. The partnership is supported by and looking to collaborate with affiliate organizations such as Haliburton County Paramedic Service and Haliburton Family Health Team.
Between June 3 and July 12, the feasibility of Haliburton Highlands Ontario Health Team will be validated in its second phase and sorted into one of two stages: In Discovery (requiring more assessment) or In Development (ready for full application to become an OHT).
CEO welcomes physician recruiter
HHHS continues to experience challenges with recruiting physicians to work in the emergency department on a more permanent basis, despite having success in bringing locums into the community.
The County of Haliburton has agreed to provide funding for and hire a part-time physician recruitment co-ordinator. The role has been filled by Cheryl Kennedy, who CEO Carolyn Plummer says is known throughout the health community and has done physician recruitment in the past.
“We are very pleased that the county has decided to hire her and we’re looking forward to working with her in the coming weeks and months,” said Plummer.
In April, the provincial budget was released, outlining several key investments. According to the CEO’s report, the budgets include an investment of an additional $384 million in the hospital sector as part of its efforts to end hallway medicine; approximately $17 billion in capital grants over the next 10 years to modernize, increase capacity at hospitals, and address urgent issues; $174 million will be invested in 2019 and 2020 to support community mental health and addiction services; $267 million will be provided to the home and community care sector to provide additional supports and services; and a commitment to the creation of 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years, along with funding for upgrading an additional 15,000 older long-term care beds.
Although the budget was released, Plummer says “the level of detail that suggests how they will impact HHHS has not yet been made available.”
According to the CEO’s report, the year-end audit process has been undertaken in the past few weeks and will soon be complete. Although the financial statements are not yet finalized, HHHS remains “optimistic” that they will finish the year in a balanced position.
HHHS has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for Hospital Infrastructure Renewal Funding and Exceptional Circumstances Program grants. The proposal includes major projects totalling approximately $600,000.
A long range master plan is in the works to ensure HHHS continues to be able to respond to current and future health service needs within the community.
According to the report, funds received from the 2018/2019 Small Rural Hospital Transformation Fund have helped start the first phase of the planning process, which includes a building condition assessment for HHHS Haliburton and Minden sites to determine potential growth options. The information gathered will be needed prior to the next stages in planning and in the case the organization applies for more long-term care beds.
The second phase of the initiative, a more in-depth look into what services and facilities are needed in the future to meet the needs of the community, will take place later on in the year and will include a stakeholder consultation.
HHHS continues to prepare for the upcoming accreditation survey in December by undergoing quality improvement workshops that have taken place in March and May. The most recent session included training on Accreditation Canada methodology used during assessments, and monthly accreditation planning meetings will take place to further prepare for the survey.
Some practice and process changes have already been implemented based on input received during the training session in March, which include the installation of white boards in patient rooms to share critical information, changes to daily rounds processes, and implementation of new flow sheets.
Clinical Information System update
HHHS continues to work with six other hospitals in the region to acquire a shared Clinical Information System to improve quality of care and health outcomes. A CIS would help to increase clinical standardization, improve patient and family experience, clinicians and patient communications, help patient self-management and education, and improve referral and consult processes.
Negotiations with the vendor and financial analysis to determine overall cost over a 10-year period are almost complete. A draft governance agreement has been developed that dictates how the seven hospitals will work together to manage the system. Both the agreement and vendor contract are anticipated to be signed by the end of June.
Community centralized intake process update
The centralized intake process involves doing a more in-depth assessment when clients call community support services with questions regarding services or asking for help. An in-depth assessment is done and they are introduced to a variety of programs and services based on the results of the assessment.
More than 170 intakes have been completed from the last six months. About 60 per cent of intakes resulted in additional referrals to other HHHS programs and services, while 15 per cent have resulted in external agency referrals and assistance in getting connected to those resources.
“We’re very excited we’re able to provide that kind of service and navigation to people in the community who need it most,” said Plummer.