Local partners seek to form a local Ontario Health Team

By Cecilia Nasmith

With the provincial government introducing the concept of Ontario Health Teams as a new model of health-care delivery, a number of local partners are building on a strong history of collaboration and coordinated care for members of the community to apply to form a local Ontario Health Team.

The idea behind the new provincial initiative is to improve the co-ordination of care and services by uniting patients, residents, families, communities, providers and system leaders in a team to deliver a smooth continuum of care within a defined geographical area. Though members of the team may be in different organizations or physical locations, they will work together toward common goals for strengthening local services.

In response to the April call for applications to form an OHT, a number of local health-system stakeholders have come together to establish an Ontario Health Team. Calling themselves the Northumberland Collaborative Planning Committee, they have taken the first step and submitted a self-assessment by the May 15 deadline.

Along with local patients, caregivers and primary-care physicians, members of the committee include Alderville First Nation, Campbellford Memorial Hospital, Community Care Northumberland, Community Health Centres of Northumberland, Northumberland Family Health Team, Trent Hills Family Health Team, Northumberland Hills Hospital, The Bridge Hospice and Northumberland County.

The press release included comments from many of the partners, including patient and caregiver representatives.

Scott Macpherson, who describes himself as a moderate-to-heavy user of Ontario's health care since his childhood in Toronto in the 1950s, compared health care in a large urban setting to health care in Northumberland,
“I have experienced how collaborative and effective local care providers have been in responding to the community’s complexities and uniqueness. I am honoured to be part of developing this submission,” Macpherson said.

Caregiver representative Kaye Jackson considers strengthening patient and caregiver voice and choice with the treatment team “critical for meaningful, innovative, integrated system redesign. By increasing the overall involvement of patients and caregivers, care planning can be specific to the strengths, preferences, and cultures of individuals. I am pleased to be actively contributing to this submission.”

“Through meaningful, positive partnerships and collaboration through the OHT, we will be able to achieve more and better health outcomes for our members,” Alderville director of health and social services Malcolm Ponnayan stated.

“Partnerships and exploring new models for collaboration are cornerstones of Community Care Northumberland’s approach to delivering client-centered care,” executive director Trish Baird said.

“CCN welcomes the opportunity to work with local agencies to identify innovative ways of improving client transitions across the health-care environment.”

“The possibility of forming a local Ontario Health Team represents an opportunity for Northumberland stakeholders to further strengthen our common understanding of the community’s health care needs, reducing barriers and improving health outcomes for local residents,” Community Health Centres of Northumberland executive director Duff Sprague added.

“As a provider of long-term care, paramedic and social services, Northumberland County welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with community partners on the formation of a local Ontario Health Team, as an extension of our commitment to the delivery of industry-leading, quality care and value for Northumberland residents.” county chief administrative officer Jennifer Moore commented.

“This submission to form a local Ontario Health Team is well aligned with the Northumberland Family Health Team mandate to improve the health status of the population by delivering seamless and sustainable access to care in our community. We look forward to next steps.” executive director Laurel Savoy stated.

“For Northumberland Hills Hospital, collaborative community partnerships have proven to be key enablers behind our ability to deliver high-quality care close to home,” president and chief executive officer Linda Davis said.

“As the process to form a local Ontario Health Team evolves, we look forward to building upon these partnerships to create a more cohesive model for a team that is better organized around local patients' needs.”

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini congratulated all partners on their hard work to establish an OHT.

“This Ontario Health Team model will build upon the already strong existing collaborative partnerships in Northumberland,” Piccini said.

“The residents of our riding deserve a connected health care system that puts their needs first, and they also deserve a health care system that is sustainable and accessible for all."

The Ministry of Health will review all submissions, inviting those that demonstrate a high level of readiness to move forward with a more detailed application (which is due by mid-July). In a scenario where the Northumberland application is successful, the planning committee will engage the broader local health and social-care community (and the people served) to carry the process forward together.

This local OHT would build on existing partnerships and patient-caregiver perspectives for the further improvement of health outcomes, patient and provider experience, and value for Northumberland residents.

Based on current understanding of community health-care needs, the target population served would initially include rural residents (who face such barriers to accessing health care as isolation, homelessness, addiction and mental-health concerns), as well as those with palliative needs and limited mobility. The population served, as well as the scope of services provided, would expand over time.

The first OHTs are expected to be announced in the fall, with the province continuing to accept applications and evaluate interested groups over time. It is expected that all communities will ultimately adopt the Ontario Health Team model.

Background information about OHTs is available from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care at