Province in process of deconstructing LHINs
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Dec. 5 meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Board.
The Ford government continues its streamlining of the province’s health-care system, which is planned to include the eventual elimination of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) that were created under the province’s previous Liberal government. They are being replaced with what the province is calling Ontario Health Teams, which are more localized in format.
“The 14 LHINs, the leadership of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks has been transitioned over to a more regional leadership approach, where there’s now five CEOs,” HHHS CEO Carolyn Plummer told board members. “The LHINs haven’t been merged, but they’ve come together under a single leadership umbrella.”
“That structure is going to be in place on an interim basis,” Plummer said, until the transition to Ontario Health Teams is complete.
“There have already been a number of Ontario Health Teams across the province,” Plummer said, adding one was the approval of the nearby Durham Ontario Health Team. There is a proposal in the works for a Haliburton Highlands Ontario Family Health Team.
“Our team remains in development,” Plummer said, explaining a number of working groups have been created, which are working toward a full application.
Lessons from power outage
A planned eight-hour power outage by Hydro One on Nov. 24 affected HHHS’s Haliburton facility, but CEO Carolyn Plummer told board members the outage had gone smoothly, and that a plan that had been put in place could be used again in the future.
“We had a short window of time from when we were notified of the outage to when it actually happened,” Plummer said. “But we were able to develop an action plan and a mitigation strategy plan for how we were going to make sure all of our patients, residents, families visitors and staff . . . were safe during that process and that services weren’t disrupted during that process.”
HHHS met with reps from Hydro One leading up to the outage, and also made arrangements with partner organizations such the county’s EMS department and regional hospitals.
“Everything went smoothly,” Plummer said, adding that the process that had been developed could be used for any planned outages in the future. “It was nice to have the opportunity to go through that planning exercise, and I think it puts us in a good position, it was a good opportunity to test out that planning process.”
Plummer extended thanks to all who’d been involved in the process.
“We do have backup generators, but they don’t service 100 per cent of everything in the building,” she said. “There was certainly a lot of effort to make sure the patients didn’t suffer any disruption in their care.”
Irene Odell gave a report on the activities of HHHS’s green advisory group, a relatively new group struck just a few months ago and led by Dr. Keith Hay.
“The goal of the group is to really make HHHS more environmentally responsible,” Odell said, “and looking at reducing our carbon footprint, help with education and staff and leadership about the link between health and climate change and the impact that it has.”
Efforts will focus mostly on more environmentally sustainable staff operations.
“We’re focusing really internally, initially,” Odell said.
“An end-of-life brochure has been put together that looks at palliative and medical assistance in death services that are provided at HHHS, and that will be soon available throughout the hospital,” Dr. Keith Hay, interim chief of staff told board members.
Hay said that members of HHHS’s medical advisory committee had also recently taken in a presentation from the software firm that will be supplying HHHS’s electronic medical records system.
“We are continuing to face the financial pressure of the Highlands Wood roof issue,” finance committee chairman David O’Brien told the board.
Multiple roof leaks resulted in the closure of the Highland Wood long-term care home earlier this year resulted in its closure for nearly four months.
The deficit for expenses incurred was initially $245,000 and currently sits at $205,000. The closure, its resulting staff implications and the repair of the roof itself led to those costs.
“We’re continuing to work with the LHIN to address our funding shortfalls, especially in the long-term care area,” O’Brien said, referencing the fact the LHINs are in the process of being transformed by province. “So, that muddies the water a little bit, if you want,” he said, “not to say that in negative way, but the LHINs are in transition and they are our funders and we have to deal with that change.”
O’Brien said 2020/21 balanced operating plans have been submitted to the LHIN for approval. “They are submitted with no reduction in our services, and that’s the important point I’d like to make.”