North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN Takes on Increased Responsibility of Local Health System to Improve Care for Ontarians

    A Milestone for Ontario's Health Care System

    ORILLIA, ON, March 29 /CNW/ - The North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health
Integration Network (LHIN) is celebrating a critical milestone. Effective
April 1, the LHIN will assume full responsibility for planning, funding and
integrating local health services.
    First announced by the government in 2004, LHINs will be responsible for
allocating funds to improve health services, reduce wait times and ensure
better coordination between health service providers.
    "Everyone from health service providers to the LHIN Board and staff has
been working hard to prepare for this date," said North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN
Board Chair Ruben Rosen. "Health services for North Simcoe Muskoka are best
planned, integrated and funded in North Simcoe Muskoka. A Ministry of Health
official working in downtown Toronto, no matter how knowledgeable and
dedicated, cannot fully understand the issues we face here in North Simcoe
    LHINs will oversee two-thirds of Ontario's health care budget - nearly
$20 billion a year and, working closely with citizens and health care
partners, will determine the health care priorities and services required in
their local communities.
    "Our government is standing by its commitment to build a health care
system around the needs of our communities and local patients," said Health
and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman. "LHINs will make it easier for
patients to access the different health services they need and to find their
way through a complex health system. LHINs will break down the barriers that
patients face and ensure that local health care decisions are made with
patients' needs in mind."
    LHINs will fund and coordinate services between hospitals, long-term care
homes, Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), community support service
agencies, mental health and addiction agencies, divested psychiatric hospitals
and Community Health Centres (CHCs). The ministry retains responsibility for
overall planning of the health system and a number of provincial programs
including health human resources and public health.
    Building on the strengths of local health organizations, LHINs allow for
better matching of health care resources to community needs.

    Patients in the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN can expect to see a real
improvement in health care, as the Integrated Health Service Plan is
implemented. Specifically, patients will:
    -   Benefit from different health service providers working together to
        care for them
    -   Experience fewer delays and disruptions, and shorter wait times in
        their health care services
    -   Receive better, safer care from the health professionals that are
        best suited to provide that care
    -   Receive better information about health services in their community
    -   Experience a health system that works better because there are fewer
        barriers and less waste and duplication.

    "LHINs are changing the way our health care system is managed," said
Smitherman. "They are, for the first time, engaging local residents in the
planning and delivering of health care, to create even better access to
quality care and reduce wait times."
    To ensure that all North Simcoe Muskoka residents have a full
understanding of the LHIN's roles and responsibilities, the public is being
invited to attend the LHIN's second annual open house which will be held on
May 10, 2007 from 2 - 6pm.
    "This opportunity to share what we do, with the people of our
communities, is essential to building effective relationships and
understanding," said Jean Trimnell, LHIN CEO. "I encourage everyone with an
interest in their local health care system to join us for an informative and
interactive afternoon."
    Confirmed open house presenters at the time of this release are Ruben
Rosen, LHIN chair; Greg McGregor, North Simcoe Muskoka Aboriginal Action
Group; and Jeff Doleweerd, North Simcoe Muskoka eHealth Action Group.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Susan French, (705) 326-7550

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