North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network
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Vision Care in North Simcoe Muskoka - Update

As you may be aware, the North Simcoe Muskoka (NSM) Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) recently conducted community engagement sessions in our five geographic planning areas, focusing on:

  • What is the current state of cataract services in North Simcoe Muskoka?  What is working and what isn’t?
  • What do residents see as their needs and concerns relative to how they access and receive vision care, particularly cataract services, in North Simcoe Muskoka?

The need for this engagement arose from the work being done by the NSM Ophthalmology Project Steering Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Tim Hillson of Orillia and Vivian Demian from Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, and comprising NSM hospital representatives and local ophthalmologists. 

The steering committee came together in December 2013 to look at developing a regional vision care plan for North Simcoe Muskoka that would be built on four main competencies: Quality, Safety, Accessibility, and Cost.

At the same time, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care issued an RFP to look at how the provision of one specific service - cataract surgery - could be improved across the province through community-based specialty clinics.  The LHINs were tasked with implementing the RFP locally.

“NSM LHIN has spoken to the hospitals currently providing cataract surgery, detailing the concern that the North Simcoe Muskoka regional vision care plan is presently in the development stage and as a result, the LHIN is not in a position at this time to effectively evaluate RFP proposals that might impact the delivery of NSM cataract services” commented Jill Tettmann.  “As such the LHIN has withdrawn from the ministry’s RFP process and has directed the Project Steering Committee to re-focus its efforts solely on the development of the integrated vision care plan.”

The LHIN will continue to engage with our health service providers who may have already prepared a proposal to ensure their ideas for moving forward are considered in conjunction with the work being done by the Ophthalmology Project Steering Committee.

Once the North Simcoe Muskoka Leadership Council endorses the regional vision care plan, recommendations and findings will be considered as to how that care will be delivered at an operational level.  Council membership includes NSM hospital and CCAC CEOs, municipality, long-term care home, community support sector and other representatives.

This integrated plan for vision care services in North Simcoe Muskoka is part of broader efforts based on Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, January 2012, which sates, “We will shift more procedures out of hospital and into non-profit community-based clinics if it will mean offering patients faster access to high-quality care at less cost.”

NSM LHIN will issue updates as this project progresses.

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