April 2015

Good day to all! When I started last month’s blog we were still awaiting spring’s arrival and now after a long winter’s wait we finally seem to be getting a taste of warmer weather and the sunny skies of spring are within sight. It reminds me of the old saying “good things come to those who wait.” Showing the ability to be patient and wait for good things also rings true when it comes to the continued and ongoing transformation of our health care system.

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost two and half years since the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care first announced Health Links - an innovative approach to how our care system is coordinated for people with complex conditions. Since the announcement in December 2012, all those involved have shown great  patience as we worked together to change the foundation of our health care system. The goal seemed straight forward enough – encourage greater collaboration between existing local health care providers, including family care providers, specialists, hospitals, long-term care, home care and other community supports. With improved coordination and information sharing, patients will receive faster care, will spend less time waiting for services and will be supported by a team of health care providers at all levels of the health care system.

And we are a bit more than two years later and we are seeing the fruits of so many people’s labour as amazing patient stories are being shared. Health Links facilitators are bringing together the care providers involved with a patient in a more cohesive way that has everyone on the same page and aware of the same issues the person is facing – they are putting the patient at the centre of their own care. One great example of the difference being made is “Gordon.”

Gordon is 65 years old and is living with more than five chronic conditions.  He lives alone, on a limited income, uses a scooter (when it’s working) and home oxygen, and is receiving home care three times a week. In the past Gordon had frequent emergency visits and re-hospitalizations due to all of his health issues but Gordon is now connected with a Health Link and he’s receiving extra assistance with referrals and follow-ups with specialists. He has had more education on his conditions and has been able to move to an assisted living facility in Hamilton where he now gets the help he needs. Gordon has also been able to get his scooter repaired so he can carry his oxygen with him, and has more help with transportation to his medical appointments. Since becoming a part of Health Links, Gordon has had no further emergency room visits or hospital admissions -  good news for the health care system; great news for Gordon!

Health Links has made a difference in Gordon’s life. With the detailed follow-up and help from the Health Links facilitator Gordon has learned to better handle the various complexities of his conditions. Gordon’s is a story of transformation; a story of how a more efficient and productive system providing excellent quality and valuable care improved a patient’s daily life.

Health Links supports the implementation of our Strategic Health System Plan (SHSP) and will work to achieve its aim of dramatically improving the patient experience through quality, integration and value. There are 11 Health Links across our LHIN and, though at different stages of development and implementation, each of them has already put in place firm foundations for change.To learn more about how the Health Links across our LHIN are improving people’s lives with quality care, I encourage you to visit the HNHB LHIN Health Links webpage.

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos you can reach us through our office, or if you’re on social media via our Twitter handle - @HNHB_LHINgage. Your feedback and questions are always welcome!