Windsor

Windsor-Essex hospitals, health providers to share single budget, resources

Nearly every health agency in Windsor-Essex has agreed to work together and share a budget as part of a proposal to become the "Ontario Health Team" for the region. It's all part of the Ford government's ongoing reforms of the health care system.

Partnership does not amount to a merger, says Hotel-Dieu Grace CEO

Janice Kaffer is the president and CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Health care in Ontario is undergoing a major overhaul.

You've likely heard about the first part — the merging of 20 agencies into a single entity called Ontario Health.

That merger includes Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), government agencies that plan and fund health services for a particular geographic area.

Windsor is currently part of the Erie-St. Clair LHIN, which also includes Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton.

As a replacement for regional health planning, the Doug Ford Ontario PC government has asked local organizations — such as hospitals and home-care providers — to self-organize into "Ontario Health Teams" (OHT) that cover a specific geographic area.

Under the OHT model, individual funding for each provider will be eliminated, in favour of a single transfer to the team. From there, members will decide how to split up the money.

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is coordinating the effort to create the Windsor-Essex Ontario Health Team. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

In Windsor-Essex, just about every health provider — including all three hospitals (Windsor Regional, Hotel-Dieu Grace and Erie Shores)  — have agreed to function as a single team.

The effort is being organized by Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, whose president and CEO, Janice Kaffer, received a letter from the Ministry of Health this month indicating that the application, while not ready for approval, is considered "in development."

Read the letter below.

Mobile users: View the document
(PDF 126KB)
(Text 126KB)
CBC is not responsible for 3rd party content

Kaffer stresses that while her organization offered to lead the application, Hotel-Dieu Grace won't be in charge of the local OHT once it's created.

"Our community has agreed that it's really important that there be a shared governance model as we go forward, and that no individual agency is in charge," she said, noting that this will ensure smaller health providers won't be dominated by the larger ones such as her hospital.

"This is an opportunity for our community to re-develop and re-write the rules around health care in Windsor-Essex."

When asked if the creation of Ontario Health Teams was simply a way to allow local people — rather than the province — to decide how cuts take place, Kaffer said she wasn't concerned about that possibility at this point.

This is an opportunity for community to re-develop and re-write the rules around health care in Windsor-Essex.- Janice Kaffer, President and CEO, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare

"We know that health care doesn't work for a lot of people ... there's an opportunity here, with a lot of support from government, to create a Windsor-Essex solution," she said. "Yes, there are possibly some challenges down the road, but those challenges are going to come anyway."

According to Kaffer, primary care providers, such as family doctors, won't be funded out of the single OHT budget, but they remain an integral part of the planning process.

"We have a working group that's going to be starting up in probably September/October, where primary care physicians as well as nurse-practitioners ... will be working with us on talking about what does it need to look like from [their perspective]."

Kaffer says she's already heard from primary care providers that they need help getting support for patients with mental health and addictions issues, as well as individuals who will be a "target population" for the local OHT, once fully approved by the province.

Tap to watch Jonathan Pinto's conversation with Janice Kaffer.

Hotel-Dieu Grace president and CEO Janice Kaffer speaks with CBC Windsor's Jonathan Pinto about the future Windsor-Essex Ontario Health Team. 13:14

What will this mean for patients?

When asked what the implementation of a Windsor-Essex OHT will mean for a typical patient who occasionally sees their family doctor for a cold or goes to the hospital for a broken limb, Kaffer said that "very little" of the patient experience will change.

"Where the big change will be felt, is those individuals — and a lot of them are seniors — that are living in our community with multiple conditions," she said.

"The system will work for them in the background, and they will be connected in a different way because we will be connected in a different way."

Kaffer says she expects it will take at least five years for the Windsor-Essex Ontario Health Team to be fully up and running.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.