LHIN tack­les over­crowd­ing, men­tal health in draft plan

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - JEN­NIFER BIEMAN

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

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