Ontario Health Ministry Improves Coverage of Dying Patients

E-statements from Ontario Health suggest a more streamlined process with reduced operational burdens and some possible cost savings. Health care policy will also be affected by the attention being given to specific issues such as longevity and close family ties, ensuring that individuals who are attached to family and their care continue to receive the most appropriate level of care after they have ended their life.

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in its 2016 study indicates that nearly 90 percent of people spend some of their final days in a hospice or a palliative care facility. In Ontario, which has the highest percentage of people in such facilities of any jurisdiction in Canada, local health systems are also taking action to ensure that patients and family members get the best possible care.

By reducing high costs related to operations and purchasing common-use medications, both central and specialty hospitals are able to release funds for other areas of the system. Ontario Health hopes these resources will be able to fund services that may meet basic needs and that this may help achieve a happier death for a majority of people.

Sue Jussim, Ph.D., RN, author of the recently updated update on COVID issues, points out that the greatest impact will be felt by patients who are not residents of Ontario, as COVID is expanded only in areas not covered by the provincial umbrella programs, such as long-term care or mental health care facilities.

Ottawa Health recently announced it was creating a network of ‘health quarterlies’, providing pre-eminent care in the community, such as a new community-based, nurse-led, 24-hour dementia therapy service in the Kanata area.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), in 2007 the net savings of paying hospitals rather than using long-term care facilities was approximately $2.9 billion. Long-term care facilities are clearly positioned to provide the most complex treatment options, while the goal of hospitals is to minimize the number of days spent in the hospital for a patient. CIHI also found that per capita costs for home care have declined while costs for hospitals have grown.

It is vital that an individual’s views of a specific facility to receive care are taken into consideration when the COVID screening takes place and important cultural factors such as religious affiliation or sexuality (sexual orientation), such as use of sedation, are taken into consideration. Certain family histories also need to be considered. This is not only to meet physical needs, but to ensure that emotional needs are not overlooked.

Author Erica Leoussis authored a recent study, aiming to better understand the needs of patients with breast cancer that is matched to treatment options, which showed that patients responded more positively to receiving at least 20 percent of their cancer therapy in their own home.

Eileen McMahon, executive director of The Pink Box of Ottawa and author of more than 50 international protocols, according to Pharmaceutical Medicine Reporter, said that doctors are typically reluctant to move away from the traditional hospital environment where over 70 percent of cancer patients receive their initial care.

According to McMahon, hematology-oncologists—a group whose job it is to coordinate with oncologists to reduce oncologists’ and patients’ side-effects, risk of infection, and severity of treatment—want some patients to be integrated within clinics within hospitals or in the community and to be easier to transfer between settings. They want to create a seamless system that cuts hospital costs and may be a way to reduce some of the current diagnostic delays.

Another option for non-Ontarians is to contact the COVID line on the website of the Ministry of Health to obtain information on how and where they can access COVID services. For more information on COVID services, please click here.

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