The collective brains behind a proposed Ontario Health Team for Chatham-Kent have sent their proposal off to the province, and are now playing the waiting game.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, said the CK OHT proposal was due Oct. 9 with 30 other submissions across the province.
Government officials will have to review all the submissions and determine which ones will be first to proceed.
“The first Ontario Health Teams will move ahead in early 2020. But this is not a competition. When communities are ready, they will move forward,” she said. “It’s important for the organizations to feel comfortable moving forward.”
Marshall doesn’t expect to hear back right at the beginning of the new year. She said the provincial staff reviewing the submissions have their work cut out for them.
“Our submission currently is at about the 100-page mark. I could only imagine reviewing 31 of those. It’s very data-rich information,” she said. “They will look them over and they will go out and do site visits in the communities where they feel there is evidence of a readiness and a plan to move forward.”
The OHTs will in some ways replace the Local Health Integrated Networks (LHIN) put in place by the previous government.
Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the CKHA, said an OHT, however, is much different than a LHIN.
“A major difference is an OHT is made up of organizations that currently deliver care and service. While the LHIN does deliver home and community care, its overarching role is about planning for the system,” she said. “Health teams are truly made up of front-line providers.”
Marshall said the OHT process is the “most significant transformation that I’ve seen in the delivery of health care in my career,” but she stressed an OHT would not replace the individual organizations that deliver health care.
“What we’re talking about is agreements about how we’ll work together in the future. This is not a merger of the organizations,” she said. “Here, we all know one another. We’re small enough to be relationship based and large enough to have a level of sophistication that we can draw on from each other.”
Marshall said the CKHA may have the lead hand on the local OHT proposal, but added health-care groups from across the municipality were heavily involved, and the people in the system – the patients – were a huge part of the process.
“We want to underscore the collaborative and collective effort that has gone into this proposal. There are 15 signatories to the document,” she said. “The group created a steering committee that was responsible to deliver the product. Six different work streams are all led and co-chaired by members of the steering committee. Each work stream has at least two patient advisors. What’s coming forward has been co-designed with patients, families and caregivers.
“More than 100 people were involved in the development of this document,” she continued. “The process of the creation of this proposal is really the journey we’re on. It’s about the strength in the partnerships we have. And regardless of the submissions going on, these partners are going to continue to work together.”