The teams will initially focus on helping frail or elderly people, as well as those with mental health issues and addictions, said Simone Thibault, executive director of the Centretown Community Health Centre.
“Often those are the people who end up in emergency that could have been better cared for in the community,” said Thibault, whose organization is one of the team’s initial partners.
Thibault said the Ottawa Health Team will first monitor the success of their approach by evaluating “a few hundred” patients, and then expanding until it includes everyone within its region.
“We know the system’s not working,” she said. “It’s complicated, and we just want to simplify the system.”
Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, remains skeptical of the province’s strategy.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and governments have been saying that … this plan or that plan or what have you will facilitate moving people out of hospitals,” said Mehra, whose group advocates for public health care.
Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, has concerns over the accountability and oversight of the new teams. (CBC)
She believes patients are already shifted into home care as soon as spots are available, and that they only languish in hospital when long-term care beds don’t exist.
“We don’t see how the health teams are going to actually help the demand and supply problems,” said Mehra.
She also has questions about oversight, arguing more could be done to make the teams transparent and accountable to both patients and the public.
“We are quite concerned because [with] the previous iterations of these types of things there was at least public governance. There was a written plan, there was public oversight, there were meetings,” she said.
“The Ontario Health Teams have no such thing. There’s no meeting to [attend], there’s no minutes of the meeting, there’s no clarity around what they’re planning.”
Won’t save province money
Ontario Health will continue to be the governing body over the health teams, including Ottawa’s, Elliott said.
Money will flow from Ontario Health to the local teams, the minister added, and they can organize in anyway they see fit, be it partnerships or corporations.
“They will have a budget that they will receive for the care of all of the people within their geographic area, and there will be an agreement between Ontario Health and the local team that sets standards and expectations that go along with the money,” Elliott said.
The new model is not expected to save the province money, Elliott said.
The initial partners behind the Ottawa Health Team are:
- Bruyère Continuing Care
- Carefor Health and Community Services
- Carlington Community Health Centre
- Centretown Community Health Centre
- Ottawa Inner City Health, Inc.
- Ottawa Public Health
- Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
- Somerset West Community Health Centre
- South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre
- The Ottawa Hospital