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October 24th, 2012

Improvements and Efficiencies – challenging the status quo in health care

The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) is committed to providing quality health care for the residents of the Champlain LHIN. As the only adult acute tertiary care hospital in Eastern Ontario, TOH is the sole provider of complex care for patients with trauma, cancer, cardiac disease, vascular, thoracic and neurosurgical illnesses. TOH’s mandate is threefold:

  • Provide tertiary (acute) care to adult patients
  • Educate future health professionals
  • Perform world-leading research in the hopes of improving health care today and for the future

Strong links with the Champlain LHIN, Community Care Access Centre, local hospitals and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has enabled TOH to achieve its mandate. From its inception in 1998 TOH has sought ways to innovate in an effort to improve care while maximizing resources and today’s economic climate challenges us further. The economy has affected the delivery of health care in Ontario and has resulted in a series of budget challenges for all hospitals, including TOH. TOH remains focused on providing the best care at the lowest cost but must work even harder to live within limited resources. Throughout the development of its annual operating plan, TOH is guided by several principles that are at the heart of every decision. These are:

  1. TOH is committed to ensuring that each patient receives compassionate, high-quality care. This includes ensuring that we use our limited resources wisely and focus on our tertiary regional mandate that supports the Champlain region. As the only adult tertiary (highly specialized complex care) hospital in the region, TOH must prioritize its resources to ensure that these services are available for our community.
  2. TOH must continue to foster strong partnerships with other hospitals and community partners to ensure that patients requiring less specialized care are treated in the appropriate care settings. This will allow patients to get the care they need closer to home.
  3. TOH is on a continuous journey to challenge the status quo and is committed to identifying new innovative models for health-care delivery that will allow us to maintain and strengthen the quality of care for our patients while using more cost effective and efficient models of delivery.  By transforming how we deliver care, we must also change how we best utilize the skills and knowledge of our staff (physicians, employees and volunteers). We must also continue to streamline work processes, the utilization of medications, supplies and diagnostic tools.
  4. TOH’s physicians, employees and volunteers are its most valuable resource. Faced with unprecedented fiscal restraint, TOH will work hard to minimize the impact on our team as we continue to identify innovative and efficient models of health-care delivery. To minimize the impact on staff, TOH follows a well-defined process aligned with our union leadership and bound by collective bargaining agreements. In all cases, the process begins with management issuing a lay-off notice to the union representing affected staff. The next step is a meeting to discuss the impact and possible alternatives, such as reassigning staff to vacant positions. The hospital then canvases staff in the affected area to offer voluntary exit and retirement incentives to eligible employees. This is followed by a “bumping” process based on seniority. In the end, very few employees are subjected to an involuntary lay-off and the hospital is able to provide quality care at less cost.
  5. TOH uses evidence-based information and peer comparisons in decision-making and strives at all times to preserve its academic mandate for teaching and research, while providing quality health care.

– Dr. Jack Kitts