Longwoods Blog

[This is a text version of this report. It provides you all “you need to know.” Clicking on any of the links will take you to the Ontario Ministry of Health web site and a full colour/graphic version. Enjoy.]

Contents:
·        Access to Care
·        Prevention
·        Mental Health
·        Fair Drug Prices
Thousands more nurses are on the job. Since 2003, 23 new hospitals have been built or are underway. When it comes to surgical wait times for key services, Ontario has gone from worst to first in Canada, and over two million more Ontarians have a family doctor.
Ontario also has some of the toughest laws in the world to prevent illness. For example, the province will avoid up to $4 billion in health care costs a year by eliminating coal-fired electricity.
Our goal is to make Ontario the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old. We have an Action Plan for Health Care to help get us there.
Our parents and grandparents had the vision and compassion to create our uniquely Canadian, universal health care system. And now, it’s our turn to protect and strengthen health care, so it’s there for our children and grandchildren, just as it is there for us.
 

Access to Care
 
More Doctors
In 2003, there was a serious doctor shortage. Since then, Ontario has attracted 4,000 more doctors and helped 2.1 million more Ontarians find a family physician, according to the Ontario Medical Association. In fact, since 2006, Ontario has added more physicians than the national average.
Ontario has added 260 more first-year medical school spaces — a 38% increase since 2004. The province has more than doubled the number of spaces forinternational medical graduates from 90 to 200 each year. And Ontario is increasing the number of family medicine residency positions by 160% (326 spaces) by 2013.
In 2005, Ontario opened the Northern Ontario School of Medicine — the first new medical school in 30 years — the first new medical school in 30 years — with main campuses in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, and research sites across Northern Ontario. The school has graduated 220 new doctors since the spring of 2009.
Since 2007, Ontario has opened four new medical education campuses in Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Catharines, Windsor and Mississauga.
The province also created the HealthForceOntario Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative to help attract more physicians to rural and northern communities. Since the program began in 2010, Ontario has added 187 physicians— 69 medical specialists and 118 family physicians.
In 2011, more licences were issued to physicians than ever before. The total number issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) was 3,973 – 7% more than in 2010. The number of new practice certificates issued was 1,705, also a record. CPSO says these results are thanks to efforts by the province and its partners.
 
Freezing Doctors’ Pay to Protect Health Care 
Ontario is committed to protecting health care for patients and their families. That’s why the province is asking doctors to accept a pay freeze so that more precious health care dollars can be invested in:
·        home care for 90,000 more seniors over the next three years
·        access to same-day and next-day appointments as well as after-hours care
Ontario is also updating the fees paid to specialists. As technology improves, more procedures can be completed in less time but fees haven’t kept pace and this is an opportunity to find more savings.
Did you know?Ontario’s doctors are the best paid in Canada.
 
More Nurses
Over 15,000 more nurses are working in Ontario since 2003. The Nursing Graduate Guarantee Initiative is providing nursing graduates with full-time job opportunities.
Ontario is helping to keep experienced nurses on the job longer — holding onto their valuable knowledge and skills with programs like the Late Career Nurse Initiative and creating new nursing roles that allow them to fully use their skills.
Ontario has also more than doubled the number of primary care Nurse Practitioner education spaces from 75 to 200.
Did you know?Telehealth Ontario is there for you. To speak with a nurse 24/7, call 1-866-797-0000.
 
Family Health Teams
Ontario created 200 Family Health Teams working to provide health care services to 2.8 million Ontarians. That includes 42 new family health teams in northern communities.
The province is now putting more tools in the hands of Nurse Practitioners and pharmacists, both in regular clinics and family health teams. This helps the health care system run smoother by using resources more efficiently. For example:
·        Your nurse practitioner could order an ultrasound on the spot to rule out serious issues.
·        A pharmacist could prick your finger to show you the proper use of a glucose monitoring device.
Did you know?Today, almost 10 million people receive care in a group setting like a family health team or Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Chicago.
 
Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics
Twenty-four of the 26 Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics are now open. These clinics are helping to improve access to care for more than 27,000 Ontarians. Another two will open this year.
Did you know?Ontario is the first Canadian province to introduce Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics in our communities.
More Choices for Birth 
This year, Ontario committed to building two midwife-led birth centres to give new moms more choice in how and where they deliver their babies while freeing hospital delivery rooms to handle higher-risk deliveries. These birthing centres are on track to provide services next summer.
Midwives will care for over 22,100 women and their newborns this year.

Wait Times and Long-Term Care 
·        
Wait Times
Ontario launched the Wait Times Strategy in 2004. In 2008, the province began to include emergency room wait times in the strategy.
To help lower wait times, Ontario has opened 34 new MRIs since 2003 and there are four more on the way.
So far, Ontario has invested about $1.7 billion to fund about three million more medical procedures, reduce bottlenecks, measure progress and publicly track results.
Did you know?Ontario now has the shortest wait times in Canada. The days of waiting saved since 2005 would cover 4,000 lifetimes.
 
Long-Term Care
Wait times are further reduced when people have more choices for care, which helps them avoid unnecessary hospital stays. That’s why Ontario is making sure that the right type of care is available.
These investments include:
·        Support to seniors and caregivers to help seniors stay healthy and live independently and comfortably in their own homes. Over 215,000 more Ontarians received care in their homes in 2010-11 than in 2003-04.
·        9,207 more beds and 10,000 more staff in long-term care homes since 2003.
·        An increase of $880 million in funding since 2003 for Community Care Access Centres to help manage home care, personal support and homemaking services for those who need it.
·        Funding for assisted living services in supportive housing has increased by almost 60% since 2003.
Ontario is helping to improve the quality of care and the accountability of long-term care homes for the treatment and well-being of over 77,000 residents.
Like many people her age, Sue Ellis is doing whatever she can to help out with aging parents and at the same time watch her children grow up.

Prevention
Vaccines and Newborn Screening 
In 2003, there were eight publicly funded vaccines. Today there are 15, including chickenpox.
Did you know?Ontario’s vaccination program saves families more than $1,400 per child.
Premier at Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Community Health
Before 2003, Ontario screened for two rare genetic disorders in newborns. Ontario now screens for 28 rare genetic diseases and disorders, including sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis.
Did you know?Ontario’s newborn screening program is the most comprehensive in Canada.
 
Cancer Screening and Care
Ontario provided 303,712 more breast cancer screening exams in 2011–12 than in 2003–04. The province has also added 60 new breast cancer screening sites since 2003–04 for a total of 160 sites as of March 2012.
Before 2003, Ontario didn’t cover any screening for colorectal cancer — the second deadliest form of cancer in Canada. In 2007, Ontario announced Canada’s first province-wide colorectal cancer screening program. So far, it has funded 134,000 colonoscopies and over 1.7 million fecal occult blood tests.
The province is also funding the PSA test for men who are at high risk for prostate cancer to detect and treat cancer earlier. Surgical wait times for cancer surgeries are now 30 days shorter than in 2005.
Ontario is helping more patients become cancer-free by funding more new cancer drugs like Rituxan, which is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Yervoy and Zelboraf, which are used to treat melanoma, and Zytiga and Jevtana, which are used to treat prostate cancer.
Did you know?The Ontario Government announced it was investing $15 million over the next three years to expand the Ontario Breast Screening Program to reach women between the ages of 30 and 69 who are at high risk for breast cancer.
 
Diabetes
Ontario is standing by families affected by diabetes with the Ontario Diabetes Strategy, which includes:
·        prevention initiatives, especially for those at risk
·        funding medical interventions like insulin pumps
·        providing diabetes education resources
·        increasing access to specialists’ services
Did you know?Ontario was the first province in Canada to fully fund insulin pumps for children and youth with type 1 diabetes, saving families up to $18,300 per child in the first five years. The program was expanded to include adults with type 1 diabetes in September 2008.
 
Flu
This will be the thirteenth year the Universal Influenza Immunization Program has been offered to all Ontarians six months of age and older who live, work or attend school in Ontario.
Now, Ontario is making it easier than ever to get your free flu shot close to home — through your family doctor, nurse-led flu immunization clinics and now at participating pharmacies.
Specially trained pharmacists can give the flu shot to Ontarians, age five and over. You can find a health care provider offering the flu shot near you atOntario.ca/flu.
 
Smoking
The province has worked to toughen tobacco laws, ban smoking in public places and encourage more Ontarians to quit altogether.
The smoking rate has gone down to 19.3% in 2010 from 24.5% in 2000.
Read Nic’s story and find out how you can get the support you need to quit today.
 
Healthy Lifestyles
Ontario’s Healthy Communities Fund helps promote good health across the province. This year, over 200 local and regional projects received funding.
Ontario’s After-School Program helps 18,000 children and youth enjoy after-school activities in over 300 sites across the province.
Since 2003, Ontario has quadrupled its investment for the Student Nutrition Program to $17.9 million annually. Last year, Ontario provided nutritious breakfasts, snacks and lunches to over 660,000 elementary and secondary students.
Ontario has helped 3,552 athletes through the Quest for Gold Program since it began in 2006.

Mental Health
Ontario is investing in a new Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, starting with children and youth that will help 50,000 more kids and their families access the supports they need, when and where they need it.
Working Together for Kids’ Mental Health is now available in 11 communities. Front-line workers (such as teachers, child workers and youth workers) can now get the screening and needs-assessment training and tools they need to identify issues sooner, and connect children and youth with the right services.
Through the Ontario Child and Youth Telepsychiatry Program, Ontario connected psychiatrists to more than 1,595 young people living in rural, remote and under-served communities. The province also provided education and training for professionals working in community-based agencies. The province continues to work closely with the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health to provide mental health agencies with knowledge and best practices so that children and youth receive the best possible mental health services.

Fair Drug Prices
High drug prices prevent money from being invested in front-line services that families depend on.
Since 2006, Ontario has made changes to the drug programs that allow people to get more value for money on prescription drugs and increase access to new, more effective drugs.
These changes are saving the health system about $500 million per year, which the province is investing back into front-line health care. In 2011-12, Ontario saved an additional $100 million.
Changes include:
·        lowering the prices of most generic drugs to 25% of the cost of the comparable brand-name product
·        a more streamlined and transparent approval and funding process for new and more effective drugs
Ontario is also asking the wealthiest seniors to pay a little more for their prescription drugs. Right now, a senior with an annual income of $300,000 receives the same benefit as a senior with an income of $30,000. That’s why the province is changing the program so that, as of August 1, 2014, single seniors with net incomes of $100,000 or more and senior couples with a combined net income of $160,000 or more will pay more of the cost of their prescription medicine. This change will affect only about 5% of Ontario’s seniors — those with the highest incomes.
Did you know?$500 million is enough to cover the entire yearly budget of William Osler Health System, and is over four times the budget of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, almost twice the annual budget of Health Sciences North and eight times the yearly budget of Woodstock General Hospital.
Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care
Our goal is to make Ontario the healthiest place in North America to grow up and grow old. We have an Action Plan for Health Care to help get us there.
Ontario’s aging population and fiscal challenges require changes to how we deliver health care.
Our plan will help build a quality system that is more responsive to patients and delivers better value for taxpayers.
The action plan has three priorities:
·        Keeping Ontario Healthy
·        Faster Access to Stronger Family Health Care
·        Right Care, Right Time, Right Place
The Action Plan for Health Care in Ontario will ensure families get the best health care where and when they need it, while ensuring all Ontarians get better value for their health dollars. We will engage providers to improve care and support Ontarians in taking charge of their own health.
The plan will:
·        Make responsible decisions on funding priorities and ensure funding is shifted to where we get the best value.
·        Provide new measures to prevent illness in the first place and help Ontarians stay healthy.
·        Give Ontarians better access to family doctors and Nurse Practitioners — through after-hours care and same-day and next-day appointments — that will save Ontarians time, keep them healthier and help them avoid trips to the hospital.
·        Support Ontario’s seniors who want to live independently at home, in their communities, by providing more home care supports.
Quality, consistent care organized around patients and based on the best evidence — it’s the way forward.
So far, Ontario has:
·        Changed how it funds hospitals, based on how many patients they see, the services they deliver, and the quality of those services.
·        Launched the Healthy Kids Panel to tackle childhood obesity.
·        Launched the Seniors Care Strategy to help seniors stay healthy and live at home longer.
·        Expanded the availability of smoking cessation programs to addiction treatment centres.
·        Expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists.
·        Announced the creation of two birth centres for women to receive care by a midwife, outside of hospitals.
We are investing in home care for 90,000 more seniors, including 3 million more personal support worker hours.
Did you know?Ontario is curbing unnecessary testing such as vitamin D levels, bone mineral density and sleep-study testing. This will save over $120 million a year.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012 at 10:18 am and is filed under Longwoods Online.