Saturday, June 25, 2011

LHINs & Hudak - what a mistake

 Yes, we need more hospital accountability, but getting rid of the LHINs will not do this.
NSM LHIN - huge region
Red: Muskoka
Beige: north east
Orange: central east
Salmon: central west
The LHINs oversee many aspects of the healthcare system, not just the hosptials. The purpose of the LHINs was to remove the politicians from making decisions about where the money goes, and putting it back into regional taxpayer hands, e.g., Board of Directors.

The LHINs do much more than monitor crowded hospitals. I volunteer for a transfer payment agency, that receives funding for senior. Someone needs to manage these. The LHIN sends money to Community Home Support LC, where I volunteer. We deliver food, provide transportation, footcare, etc. Our Spring Newsletter, I am the editor, talks of the hundreds of hours volunteers put in, using taxpayer dollars wisely. 

The LHINs provide planning, accountability, public engagement in spending tax dollars, and healthcare funds locally. Yes, some of the bigger Peel and Toronto area LHIN board members are appointed, many must be, since such volunteers are few and far between.

The more we disparage the LHIN, the less say we will have in where our money is being spent.
The Spectator has it wrongThe $68-million question

In 2006, Ontario introduced legislation creating a regional system of 14 LHINs to replace the existing network of District Health Councils, which had no funding authority and were limited to providing advice to the health ministry.
The irony, given Horwath's wish for a more locally accountable system, is LHINs were intended to be just that — locally accountable and engaged with the communities they serve.
And, for the most part, they are.

People like myself would rather volunteer in direct services, not sitting on a Board. Monthly meeting, committees. I served on the NSM LHIN Aging at Home Project as a consultant. It was there, directly supervised by the LHIN, that we created a plan for seniors in Muskoka. It was there that we determined a basis by which the Aging at Home funding (total $7 million over 4 years) would be spent. We came up with plans, request for proposals (RFP) and allocated funding to various for-profits and non-profits, who would serve determined need of seniors in Muskoka.

Seniors have different needs, rural vs. urban. Transportation, managing ADLs, all are more difficult when the town is 40 km away, and you cannot drive. 
The Aging At Home Strategy in NSM LHIN targeted seniors who are living at high risk in the community.(PDF report)
Members included: senior representative;
myself, as a caregiver;
reps from Alzeimer Society, etc.
as well as released front line senior Primary Care staff

The following are the four key areas or directions the project team has determined will be the focus of the Aging At Home Strategy:
• System Navigation
• Home Support
• Supportive Living Environments
• Primary Care Initiatives
Embedded into all of these key areas, there will be a focus on transportation and health human resources.

Each Local Health Integration Network (LHIN - 14 in Ontario) was charged with finding appropriate regional responses to the issues of old age and the dearth of health care. Weekly I traveled to Orillia to work with some phenomenal men and women representing various stakeholders who served seniors: LTC; Alzheimer’s groups; private, profit, and non-profit groups; medical professionals: a geriatrician, geriatric nurses, CCAC nurses; and so on. It was an interesting process and I learned a great deal about the health care system while participating in this project.

What's beyond the LHINs? 

Planning Meetings, preparing RFPs

Hudak says he'd replace them with nothing ...9 May 2011 – If Hudak were to scrap the LHINs, he would not even save the $70 million. The LHINs replaced seven regional Ministry offices and 16 Districts. At present the LHINs take about $70 million per year to administer. On a $47 billion health budget (about half of which is within the jurisdiction of the LHINs) that’s a very small percentage allocated for administration.

If LHINs are disbanded, what then?

Critics say scrap them and find a better system

With less than 4 months until the 
provincial election, Ontario's Local Health Integration Networks must feel as if they have targets painted on their backs. 
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has flat-out stated his party will abolish LHINs if elected in October.

LHIN board training is invaluable | Health-care pros should run LHINS

Community engagement

What will LHINs do? 

Prior to the formation of LHINs, health care services in Ontario were fragmented and many health care p
roviders delivered care in isolation. Patients and their loved ones were forced to make their own way through a very complex health system as they moved from one health service provider to another.
LHINs were created to change all that. In March 2006, the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 transformed the way our health care system is managed.
While we do not directly provide services, our mandate is to plan, integrate and fund health care services. As LHINs, we oversee nearly two-thirds of the $37.9 billion health care budget in Ontario.

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