The announcement by the Ministry of Health to reorganize health-care delivery across the province almost mimics a recent Northern Policy Institute study that looked at local decision-making in the health-care system in Northern Ontario.
Study author Eric Everett had called for greater integration, and more local and regional control, of the health-care system here in the north. His study recognized that health reform currently is too fragmented and incremental due to differing views and inconsistent focus on what the central vision of health-care delivery is.
This differs from Health and Long-Term Care minister Christine Elliott's vision for a more centralized delivery system, combining operations into five regions with 30-50 sub regions. It also differs in that the study recognized that one model will not effectively meet the needs of every health community in the province.
Even the CEO of North York General Hospital, Joshua Tepper, has argued one model is not suitable for all regions in the province.
True, Minister Elliott realizes her proposed changes will take many years to implement. But before even the first steps are taken, it would be important to have a broad consultation to determine how the various silos of health care can be integrated.
Within the district, integration and support between health-care agencies already is taking place on an informal basis. Riverside Health Care, for instance, already has ongoing integration between its three hospitals and Rainycrest Long-Term Care Home.
As well, co-operation already exists between family practitioners, family health teams, and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
In the future, some of that integration may result in management cost-savings, but potentially will have more front-line workers available to serve patients and clients and improve the health-care delivery system right across Rainy River District.
The district can't wait for the province to totally lay out its plans and create the new regions and sub regions. The work that already is going on can be a model for the province.
Most importantly, the co-operation and integration of services across Rainy River District can't stop while the province works on its new model.