WCH CONNECTMay 27, 2019

How WCH fits into the new 'Ontario Health' structure

  • May 27, 2019
  • BY Heather McPherson

A few people have asked me about what’s going on in the Ontario health system and how does WCH fit in. So I want to share a brief overview on how the system is evolving.

There is much transformation underway in Ontario and there are many new structures and policies being implemented by our provincial government. Within healthcare, the MOHLTC (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) introduced The People’s Health Care Act, which aims to create a simpler, more efficient system by connecting and strengthening local healthcare services, and focusing on the needs of patients, families and caregivers.

This new structure includes the creation of a province wide “super agency” called Ontario Health. This agency will be responsible for overseeing Ontario’s healthcare system and for supporting all health services across the province. The former CEO of the TC LHIN (Toronto Central Local Health Integrated Network) – Susan Fitzpatrick – was appointed as the interim CEO of Ontario Health. Susan has been leading health system transformation in the central Toronto area for some time and this new provincial model is very much aligned with what has been happening in central Toronto.

Under the Ontario Health agency there will be a number of Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) who will organize and deliver the healthcare services within their local communities. Each OHT will be made up of various health providers including hospitals, physicians and home and community care organizations that are part of the same geographic region. These OHTs will have full responsibility for managing all the clinical services and healthcare budgets for their region. The schematic below shows all of the parts of the system that are included in OHTs:

Ontario Health Teams

In order to form an OHT, healthcare organizations within the same geographic region had to partner and submit their joint application and there are many criteria that need to be met in order to form an OHT. The first OHT applications were submitted on May 15th and there will be ongoing calls for more OHTs over the next few years until the entire province is covered. 

WCH has been working with our healthcare partners and the TC LHIN to ensure that we are aligned with this new health system structure and that we can continue to provide the much-needed services we are known for and that meet our strategic priorities. Central Toronto is a complicated geographic region within this model because there are many hospitals in this region. So we have been working with the leadership teams of those hospitals to create a solution to this challenge. Also, we have been asked to lead a group of organizations that support women to see if we can improve care for some of the most vulnerable women in Toronto through the creation of an integrated delivery network. We had our first meeting last week and this is an exciting opportunity for us to work together in a new way with our partner organizations to improve healthcare delivery for the women in these marginalized communities. 

I have been at many meetings with other hospital CEOs and government leaders over the past several weeks to ensure we are actively engaged and strongly positioned for our future. Our role in supporting primary care, improving access to specialty care and leading in virtual care is proving to be an important part in the system. We have had meetings with groups of organizations who have submitted applications for OHTs but have not signed on at this point. We have more due diligence to do in order to fully determine our optimal role.

Some of what we do at WCH is caring for our community, some is caring for our immediate neighbourhoods and some is caring for the province. This all needs to be considered in our path forward. There are many options to consider and I will keep everyone updated as our role in the system evolves.

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