Minister unveils health initiative at WDMH
by Matthew Uhrig
Health Link will provide personalized care plans
WINCHESTER – Patients with complex medical needs are expected to
benefit from an initiative unveiled at Winchester District Memorial
Hospital (WDMH) Mon., April 14.
Deb Matthews, Ontario’s health minister, was at the medical facility to
announce the launch of the Upper Canada Health Link, a service that is
to offer seniors and high-risk patients better care through
personalized aid plans and more support through a team of secondary
“[The program] is all about breaking down barriers for patients with
complex conditions, [as well as] making access to health care easier
and less complicated,” she said.
WDMH is leading the network planning, which will partner the medical
facility with about 16 outside providers, including Dundas Manor, the
Township of Osgoode Care Centre, various physician practices, and more.
“The link is very much a monument of a lot of the way we already
operate,” CEO Cholly Boland said. “We have a fairly tight knit team,
and now have more resources to focus on a system that most reflects
To date, between 100 and 200 patients have benefitted from the collaborative approach.
According to Matthews, the problem with today’s health care system is
that one per cent of the provincial population consumes one-third of
spending, while five per cent then consumes two-thirds of spending.
“People with complex needs aren’t always getting the care they need.
They may be getting lots of care, they may be going to lots of
appointments and spend lots of time in hospitals, but they may not be
getting the best care for them,” she said.
Dr. Marilyn Crabtree, who has been associated with WDMH for more than
20 years, said the Health Link network is one that will benefit all
“As physicians, we know this is a good concept,” she said. “The system
works better with a team with reduced costs. We have an impressive
co-ordination of services at work leading to being better able to
identify highly vulnerable patients.”
Currently, there are 54 Health Links, with at least one operating in
every Local Health Integration Network, covering half the province.
The systems are led by various partners, including a family health
team, Community Care Access Centres, and hospitals. Bringing each
aspect together is expected to help family doctors connect patients
seamlessly with specialists, home care services, and other community
Matthews acknowledged this is the model the provincial government is
working toward implementing throughout Ontario. She even touched on the
recent bed closures at WDMH, with administrative staff trimming the
count by 14.
“[The health ministry] is beefing up community care spending. It will
be difficult for hospitals, yes; but we’re working not to impact
patient care,” Matthews said. “In the end, the process will be much
more streamlined. Right now, it is very much ground up.”
The Ontario government’s initial funding of the Upper Canada Health
Link project is $60,000, while funding ultimately tops out at $1
Back to News page