The Kemptville area will soon find itself a part of a sprawling new Ontario Health Team including parts of Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties.
The Ontario government, in partnership with Ontario Health, is rolling out eight new Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) across the province, including Four Rivers, which will serve North Grenville, Northern Lanark County, West Ottawa, McNab/Braeside and Arnprior.
Health Minister Christine Elliott made the announcement was made on Sept. 17.
Each of the new teams will be provided up to $1.1 million in one-time funding over the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 fiscal year, which can be used by each OHT to co-ordinate programs that will strengthen health system capacity by linking hospitals, primary care, home care, and community and other services together.
"I think the plan for Ontario Health Teams initiated by the province of Ontario was to have a much broader vision for integrated care across a variety of different geographies and networks of providers," said Amy Boudreau, co-lead of the Four Rivers OHT steering committee.
The Four Rivers OHT is made up of a collaboration of more than 60 health system partners from the North Grenville, Arnprior, Carleton Place, Almonte and West Ottawa areas, including the Kemptville District Hospital, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit and many more local organizations.
"The whole goal was really to bring a larger group of communities together under an umbrella," to try to improve pathways of care for people living in both urban and rural areas of Ontario, said Boudreau.
The OHT is said to improve integration of care, improve transition of care and to improve the quality of care, including client experience and provider experience to enable health care to be more co-ordinated and simple by brining health care providers as one team.
"We're optimistic that this OHT will provide better co-ordinated care for the people of North Grenville," said Frank Vassallo, CEO at Kemptville District Hospital.
The new local OHT doesn't have all the solutions right now, as the approval is still quite new, but people are working together to find answers to problems that work for all the partners, said Chris LeBouthillier, co-lead for the Four Rivers OHT steering committee.
"We're not going to make dramatic changes on day one; we're just starting out as an Ontario Health Team, so those changes will come with time as we work together as partner organizations," said LeBouthillier.
An OHT will be responsible for delivering care for patients, providing 24/7 help in navigating the health care system, and directly connecting people to different types of care that are needed.
In the first year, the Four Rivers OHT will focus its efforts on mental health and addiction in the region, like many other OHTs in the province.
Boudreau said focusing on mental health and addiction wasn't just a random choice, especially throughout the pandemic. The choice was based on the services being used by children and youth, as well as adults requiring support for mental health and addiction, especially throughout the pandemic.
"Long term focus is really all of our population," said Boudreau.
The OHT, at maturity, will improve the system and care for patients, "from people cradle to grave, it's all of the population that we serve," she added.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times