LHIN tackles overcrowding, mental health in draft plan
The agency that allocates health care dollars for much of Southwestern Ontario is zeroing in on hospital overcrowding – and strategies to stem the chronic issue – in a report outlining six key priorities to guide the organization during the next three years.
The South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) — which oversees health care funding and administration in the region from Elgin County to Tobermory, including London — is releasing a draft plan to steer the agency through 2022, the fourth such plan since the organization was created in 2006.
Shortages in long-term care spaces, mental health and addiction supports and gaps in home care are leading factors in hospital overcrowding, the LHIN’s draft integrated health service plan said.
“Health care in the South West LHIN is facing major challenges that are forcing us to think and act differently,” the report said. “This plan is a call to action.”
Improving overall patient experience, increasing access to primary and preventative care, boosting technological innovation, addressing health care inequities among seniors and Indigenous people, co-ordinating health services and seeking out efficiencies are the six key priorities identified by the LHIN.
The goal is to ensure the LHIN has the “right resources and services, in the right places, to ensure patients can access timely care,” the draft report said.
Addressing chronic hospital overcrowding by boosting resources and co-ordination among other health care providers will help take the pressure off hospitals, the report said.
The LHIN wants to increase capacity in mental health and addiction support, make home care more seamless and improve longterm care to reduce the burden on hospitals, which often are a last resort for patients when other services aren’t accessible.
South West LHIN interim chief executive Ron Sapsford was unavailable to comment on the draft report Friday.
The 38-page plan was created through consultation with eight focus groups outside the South West LHIN, 34 internal focus groups, staff feedback and surveys completed by patients, families and health care providers across the region.
The South West LHIN includes 20 hospitals and oversees health care funding and administration for nearly a million people living in eight counties.
The draft will be presented to the South West LHIN’s board of directors at the its meeting Tuesday in Owen Sound.
The agency must submit its proposed plan to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care before Oct. 31 for approval. Any recommendations made by the ministry will be reviewed and included in the final report.
The 2019-22 integrated health service plan will be finalized by the end of the South West LHIN’s fiscal year March 31, 2019.
This plan is a call to action.” LHIN’s draft health service plan