Ontario Health Teams better connect care and support Ontario’s COVID-19 response.
In support of the ongoing fight against COVID-19, the Ontario government has announced a new Ontario Health Team serving Vaughan, King, Thornhill, Richmond Hill and surrounding communities and is providing additional funding to better connect care.
“Over the past several months, Ontario Health Teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, supporting the staffing of long-term care homes and assessment centres and expanding virtual care options,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “They’ve done so by breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care, both in support of patients and our brave frontline heroes. Today’s announcement of a new Ontario Health Team in western York Region will build on this success as we continue to implement our plan to defeat COVID-19.”
The Western York Region Ontario Health Team is one of five new Ontario Health Teams being established across the province at this time. Ontario Health Teams bring together health care providers to work as one team to improve patient outcomes. Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals and home care providers, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. Patient and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services.
The Western York Region Ontario Health Team will focus on caring for medically and socially complex older adults with cognitive, physical and functional limitations in its first phase.
“Today, we are proud to announce that our government has reached another major milestone in the development of Ontario Health Teams,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and MPP for Vaughan-Woodbridge. “The new Western York Region Ontario Health Team will bring a new model of care that better connects patients and health care providers in their communities.”
The province is also investing up to $25.25 million to directly support the 29 approved Ontario Health Teams. Of this funding, $9.5 million will be dedicated to virtual care, which will provide more support for vulnerable populations and individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. With the remaining $15.75 million, each Ontario Health Team will receive up to $375,000, to be used for:
- Expanding digital care, including training, education and purchasing new tools and technology for virtual visits, booking online appointments and patient portals;
- Dedicated human resources to help develop and implement this new model of care, including more collaborative responses to COVID-19; and
- Purchasing business information tools to measure the performance and outcomes of the Ontario Health Team model.
“Building a stronger health care system for the people of western York Region starts with a better connected system that is tailored to meet the needs of our local community,” said Altaf Stationwala, President and CEO of Mackenzie Health. “Today’s announcement is a major step forward in bringing together local health care and social service providers as one co-ordinated team so that patients can move between different services and get the care they need when they need it, close to home.”
Last year, the Ontario government began implementing its plan to build a new, integrated health care system for patients by announcing the first 24 Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health, a single agency to oversee quality health care delivery, and improve clinical guidance and support for providers. The strong partnerships and integrated care established by Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health has helped better position the province to respond quicker and more effectively to COVID-19. As Ontario Health Teams continue to expand across the province, these partnerships and the lessons learned will also help better prepare the province for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and flu season.
Photo: Local dignitaries at the July 23rd western York Region Health Team announcement.