By Aryn Strickland, The Wellington Advertiser
Joining the GAOHT made statistical sense for East Wellington Family Health Team (EWFHT), which provides clinics in both Erin and Rockwood, according to executive director Kim Bell.
“First and foremost, we looked at our patients access patterns. So we pulled data straight from our electronic medical record system that looked at information about the last few years of acute care access, so when people go to hospital, where do they typically go?” Bell said.
“And it showed that the majority of our patients go west towards the Guelph area,” Bell told the Advertiser.
“So we did look at other areas … in terms of what makes the most sense for our patients. And certainly, Guelph has a very strong team and again, at the end of the day, it’s our patients, that’s where they choose to get their care.”
A primary focus for the health team’s first year is palliative care and mental health and addictions, which Elliott said were identified as “prevalent issues.”
“That is why these local Ontario Health Teams are so important to be able to identify what’s important in the communities; it will be different issues for different local … teams. Those are the issues that have been identified as being significant here,” said Elliott.
Bell said palliative care and mental health and addictions were identified as key issues by both the core organizations within the GAOHT and other health care providers across the province.
The Guelph-area team is not yet operational and it remains unclear how issues will be prioritized.
Bell said the team envisions greater access to resources for patients.
“We hear a lot that people need a system navigator or they need an advocate. And we want to build a system where they don’t need either of those things because that care and those services come to them,” said Bell.
“But what we do envision is that typically, when somebody goes to (an emergency room) with a mental health crisis, it’s because it might be … 11 o’clock on a Friday night; their doctor’s office is closed, they aren’t connected with a mental health provider, they may call one of the 24/7 lines, but again, how far off in terms of time sensitivity is the care and support that they need? It’s not readily available.”
She added, “So what we envision is that more of that care is readily available.”