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New approach to improve, support response to COVID-19

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Shady Salah – Media in Toronto

The Ontario government announced the provision of $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams across the province to provide better, connected care to patients. These teams are a new way of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as one coordinated team to improve patient outcomes. This new collaborative model is helping the province respond more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 and end hallway health care. Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“Today’s investment will not only help our province respond more effectively to the current global pandemic, but it will also help us end hallway healthcare and build a better, patient-focused health care system for the future,” said Premier Ford. “While these new teams will provide better support for more Ontarians, we won’t stop until every person and every community in Ontario has access to this new improved model of care.”

Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals, home care providers or long-term care homes, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. As Ontario Health Teams are established, patients and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services. This includes enabling the further expansion of virtual care for patients through dedicated funding to maintain access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the addition of 13 new Ontario Health Teams, the province now has a total of 42 teams which will cover over 86 per cent of the province’s population at maturity. “While still in its early stages, Ontario Health Teams are already breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care for both patients and our frontline heroes,” said Minister Elliott. “These teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by helping to address challenges in a variety of areas, and they are essential to building a connected health care system centred around the needs of patients.” The strong partnerships and integrated care established by Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health have helped better position the province to respond quickly and effectively to COVID-19. This includes supporting long-term care homes, simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, helping establish assessment centres, launching virtual urgent care initiatives, and expanding remote patient monitoring programs to support COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable populations.

The Ontario Health Team model has already proven how a collaborative team can support each other in times of need such as when there is a significant outbreak at a long-term care home. These teams were able to come together and respond quickly to address staffing shortages; infection, protection and control measures; and support keeping residents and staff safe during COVID-19.  These stronger partnerships between hospitals, primary care, home and community care and long-term care homes will create a connected health care system that focuses on the needs of patients and is a key recommendation by the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

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