Minto council receives report on Rural Wellington Ontario Health Team

MINTO – Council here has received a progress report on plans to form a Rural Wellington Ontario Health Team.

Correspondence at the Sept. 17 meeting included the inaugural newsletter of the proposed health team.

In the spring, the provincial government passed the Peoples Health Care Act, which called for the creation of 31 Ontario Health Teams (OHT) to deliver healthcare to local areas.

The plan puts a super agency called Ontario Health in charge of the entire health-care system, overseeing the OHTs, which will be made up primarily of health and social service organizations working together to integrate services locally and help residents navigate the system.

The core planning group for the Rural Wellington OHT includes representatives from: the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team (FHT), Upper Grand FHT and the Mount Forest FHT, a family doctor from each region, local hospitals, home and community care providers and the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington, as well as the Waterloo-Wellington LHIN.

So far, organizers state they have also talked with patients, hospital and family health team staff, first responders, hospice personnel and other community and healthcare groups across the region “to better understand what is working well and what could be improved.”

The newsletter notes a number of communities have already put in an initial application, however there is a second wave of applications in December, which the local group plans to join.

The Rural Wellington OHT will include all residents who live in rural Wellington, and individuals who access to healthcare within the region.

The province has asked each OHT to identify a “target population” to work on at the beginning.

Locally, the patients with diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and CHF (chronic heart failure) or a combination of these illnesses have been designated as the target population.

“We chose this population because these patients often end up seeing health care providers frequently, whether it’s for office visits, home care, hospital visits or at hospice,” the newsletter states.

“Improving these patients’ experiences across the whole system will help us identify many areas where we can improve all patients’ experiences.”

The newsletter lists three overall goals for the local OHT:

– “patient navigators” for anyone who needs one (navigators get to know the needs and issues of people living in their catchment area and will help patients navigate the health care system and “make sure no one falls between the cracks”;

– patient records that are electronic, updated in real time, and accessible to each patient and to their health care workers; and

– becoming “fax free” by 2023.

“Believe it or not, many health records across the province are transmitted through fax machines, which are outdated and not always secure,” local OHT officials note.

The newsletter indicates anyone wanting information, or who wishes to offer ideas or get involved should contact project manager Karen Armstrong at or local family physicians.

Council received the OHT correspondence without comment.