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Couchiching OHT named to group tasked with advancing Ontario Health Team model

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The Couchiching Ontario Health Team (COHT) has garnered recognition for its swift and effective development, earning a place among a select group of Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) tasked with advancing the collaborative health care delivery model introduced in 2019.

"Even before we were established, there's been a unique and longstanding spirit of collaboration and partnership among health care providers across the region that we've been able to tap into and strengthen as part of our OHT," said Dr. Kim McIntosh, COHT Physician Lead.

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones recently announced that COHT is one of 12 OHTs chosen to share insights and experiences, aiding in continuous learning and preparing for the next phase of implementation.

Currently, there are 57 OHTs throughout the province.

With the support of the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health, these teams will concentrate on facilitating the seamless transition of individuals dealing with chronic diseases as they navigate their primary care, hospital, and home and community care requirements.

"Those relationships and that ethos of sharing resources ensuring patients and families have input really helped us respond to a pandemic so many of our communities saw the creation of vaccination clinics and care clinics," said Dr. McIntosh.

"Collaboration is with every provider within our system. We've got hospital base, community base, primary care, which is a key enabler of the health care system to transportation to private health care providers," said Penetanguishene Mayor Doug Rawson, a joint executive team member with the COHT.

The COHT said some of the keys to its success have been simplifying system navigation for patients with just one number to call and focusing on the needs of vulnerable populations.

"Housing and food insecurity and mental health and addiction concerns need special attention, and those individuals need to know where to turn and need to have access. So we've used the approach of 'no door is the wrong door," explained Dr. McIntosh.

The goal is to make access seamless even if you don't need the emergency room but also don't have a family doctor.

"It's really bringing system providers together to put the patient at the centre of the formula and provide care to the right person in the right place at the right time. Really, we're able to provide easy access and remove the barriers to care," added Rawson.

The OHT encourages residents to use the care clinic instead of the emergency department throughout cold and flu season.

With the strain on the health care system in recent years, Dr. McIntosh said this recognition of local medical personnel's efforts and hard work means a lot.

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