Minister introduces Upper Canada Health Link at WDMH

Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care Deb Mattews was at Winchester District Memorial Hospital Monday to announce that the province’s Health Links initiative is expanding into this area.

Health Links is a program developed by the province, to give complex and high needs patients the benefit of better care through improved coordination between care providers in the region.

This area’s Health Link is called the Upper Canada Health Link. It will offer seniors and patients with complex conditions better care through personalized care plans and more coordinated support from a tightly knit team of providers.

The Health Link will help improve patient transitions within the health care system by encouraging providers to share patient information and work together to develop solutions that address each patient’s specific needs.

“Health Links are all about breaking down barriers for patients with complex conditions, making access to health care easier and less complicated,” said Health Minister Matthews. “By encouraging local care providers to work together we are ensuring our highest needs patients get the care they need when and where they need it and don’t end up falling through the cracks.”

On arriving at WDMH Matthews met with Evelyn Hunter of Williamsburg, a patient at WDMH, who is likely to benefit from Health Links.

“The results of this program are life changing,” said Matthews. The Health Links program came from the front lines of health care. 

“I know that Health Links is a good concept,” said Dr. Marilyn Crabtree, who has been a physician with the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic Group for 25 years. She looks forward to seeing the impact of the Health Links program from the primary care perspective. She said it should reduce referral times and give patients a better network to support their needs.

The idea of better coordination and integration aims to make the health care system more efficient. Health care costs are about half of the province’s operating budget. Five per cent of Ontario’s population consumes about two-thirds of the health care budget.

“Winchester District Memorial Hospital is pleased to be leading the Upper Canada Health Link. We know it is the right approach because it coordinates care around the specific needs of each patient,” said Cholly Boland, hospital CEO. “Working with our partners, we are committed to this type of patient-centred care.”

Health Links was launched in Ontario in December 2012, and since then 54 Health Links have been established, covering about half of the province, so far. 

“I want everyone to have access to this if they need it,” said Matthews. 

During her visit, Matthews did acknowledge the recent bed closures at WDMH, saying only that, “Winchester District Memorial Hospital made some difficult decisions that will not impact patient care.”

For the first stage of the Upper Canada Health Link, the provinces provides $60,000 in funding. Up to $1 million is available as the project progresses.

The creation of the Upper Canada Health Link is being led by the Winchester District Memorial Hospital and currently made up of the following providers; Canada Mental Health Association, Carefor Health and Community Services – Nor-Dun Center, Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie, Champlain CCAC, Dundas Manor, Findlay Creek FHO, Nation River FHO, Osgoode FHO, Regional Geriatric Program of Eastern Ontario, Rural Ottawa South Support Services, Russell Meadows Retirement, Seaway Valley CHC, St. Lawrence Medical Clinic (FHO), Township of Osgoode Care Center, Williamsburg Non-profit Housing Corporation, Woodland Villa.

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