THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – To address overcapacity in the City of Thunder Bay, the North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) is investing more than $10 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. This investment includes an additional $2.57 million, announced as part of the in-year provincewide $90 million investment, to increase the number of beds in the Transitional Care Unit at Hogarth Riverview Manor.
A multi-pronged approach is being taken to address hospital overcrowding in Thunder Bay. Strategies being implemented to address overcapacity will help to provide access to services in the most appropriate settings, enhance access to Home and Community Care, improve patient flow from the hospital to the community, and provide additional spaces for high-needs supportive housing.
The North West LHIN, St Joseph’s Care Group, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Wesway and Canadian Mental Health Association, among others, will continue to work together in a partnership that builds on these investments to support a continuum of care that moves patients to the appropriate service destination as quickly as possible.
Specific strategies to improve patient flow at the system level include:
- Increasing funding for acute and post-acute care hospital services
- Increasing the number of Transitional Care beds to 64 at Hogarth Riverview Manor
- Enhancement of Adult Day Programs
- Network of Individualized Community Enhancements
- Supportive Housing/Assisted Living
- Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team
The North West LHIN Home and Community Care has identified opportunities and will continue to explore and create innovative ways to expand the Wait at Home Program for patients that have been identified in acute or rehabilitation settings as Alternate Level of Care for long-term care. Alternate Level of Care refers to patients that are deemed medically stable who no longer require the intensity of services provided in their current care setting. These patients can be safely serviced in alternate locations within the community. All health care partners collaborate on each discharge and determine what the plan is for each patient based on their care needs.
“We welcome the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s investments in addressing overcapacity in the City of Thunder Bay including transitional care beds at Hogarth Riverview Manor. The investments are supporting our efforts to make the system work better for patients and providers. We are continuing to work with our partners to increase access to care and improve wait time for services. Through joint planning, we are looking at a number of short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies to ensure that patients will continue to get the right care in the right setting,” says Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, CEO, North West LHIN.
“Overcapacity has been an ongoing challenge for health care facilities across the province, including Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Along with our system partners, we have taken every possible measure to ensure that our patients receive the safest, most efficient quality care possible. This additional funding will go a long way towards ensuring that patients have access to the right care, at the right time, and by the right provider. I am grateful to St. Joseph’s Care Group and the North West LHIN for their partnership and support in addressing system pressures to the benefit of patients and families across Northwestern Ontario. This is how we become healthy together,” says Jean Bartkowiak, President and CEO, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and CEO, Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute.
“As health care providers, we see and hear firsthand the pressures that come with balancing the wellbeing of our clients and a system that is not keeping up with demand. We are grateful to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for recognizing this critical need through additional funding, and we are very proud to continue to work with the North West LHIN and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, as well as other partners, to do all that we can to meet the needs of our community,” states Tracy Buckler, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Care Group.
The North West LHIN is working closely with system partners, including Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Care Group, to address and improve patient flow and reduce Alternate Level of Care. A number of initiatives and innovative care models have been explored in order to reduce hospital utilization growth and hallway medicine, including:
- Transitional Care Unit: In January of 2018, the North West LHIN partnered with St. Joseph’s Care Group and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre to open a 32 bed Transitional Care Unit located at Hogarth Riverview Manor, staffed and operated by Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, in order to address the surge capacity pressures experienced by the hospital. The Transitional Care Unit provides an appropriate environment for patients who no longer require the specialized services of an acute care or rehabilitative care hospital. This improves patient flow by ensuring patients get the right care at the right time by the right provider.
- Adult Day Programs: The North West Local Health Integration Network worked with St. Joseph’s Care Group in order to increase enrolment at the Manor House community day program. St. Joseph’s Care Group was invited to provide a presentation to North West LHIN Home and Community Care staff in order to promote program attendance. Additionally, base funding has been provided to St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health to support adult day and drop in programs for individuals with dementia. The Manor House through additional base funding has added Saturday Adult Day programming. Day programs provide supervised programming in a group setting for dependent adults, such as the frail elderly, individuals with Alzheimer’s, or individuals with disabilities.
- Network of Individualized Community Enhancements: The North West LHIN supports people to remain in their homes by efficiently using specialized funding through the Network of Individualized Community Enhancements. This funding is provided by the North West LHIN Home and Community Care to eligible patients and caregivers in the community in need of additional supports and services to remain in their home, therefore reducing Emergency Department visits and admission to hospitals. Network of Individualized Community Enhancements Funding is also used to support patients as part of their discharge plan from hospital in order to provide short-term support for those patients requiring some extra support, therefore reducing readmission to hospitals.
- Supportive Housing: The North West LHIN has received new funding in 2018-2019 for two new supportive housing units for seniors in Thunder Bay, as well as funding to Alpha Court Community Mental Health and Addictions Services to provide supportive housing for people with addictions.
Additionally, six units of high-support housing were added at St. Joseph’s Care Group for individuals living with severe and/or complex mental illnesses. Supportive housing provides community living for individuals who require daily personal support to live independently. Additionally, funding for one new assisted living unit in Thunder Bay for persons with an acquired brain injury has been provided. Assisted Living services support individuals who require services at a greater frequency or intensity than home care, but without the medical monitoring or supervision that would be provided in a long-term care home.
- Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team: The North West LHIN has provided one-time funding to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Thunder Bay, to implement a Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team, in partnership with the Thunder Bay Police Services. The Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team, which includes a mental health crisis response worker and a uniformed police officer, if required, provides a coordinated response to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in the City of Thunder Bay. This model of care is reducing reliance on the Emergency Department and avoiding admissions to hospital where possible. To date, the Joint Mobile Crisis Response Team has provided 52 Emergency Department diversions.
- Wait at Home: The North West LHIN Home and Community Care, in collaboration with Wesway, developed an expedited Wait at Home pilot program. The goal of the program is to improve patient flow and reduce Alternate Level of Care to long-term care patient populations within the hospital setting by providing patients with the care they require in more appropriate care settings. The five Wait at Home beds, located at Wesway, are used to support patients identified as Alternate Level of Care to wait for placement in long-term care outside of a hospital setting.