Partners combine efforts to enhance care for long term care residents

By Lillian Badzioch

A network of healthcare providers are bringing more care to residents in Hamilton’s long term care (LTC) homes. Using telephone connection or secure videoconferencing, LTC residents and their care teams will have access to emergency department (ED) physicians and follow-up by other medical specialists and nurses when required. The new service will reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19 to LTC residents by removing the need to travel and wait in an emergency department.

“A tremendous level of teamwork has made this service a reality in record time and one of the first of its kind in Ontario,” says Dr. Mohamed Panju, A-CTU Director at Boris Clinic, and Virtual Care for LTC Initiative Co-Lead. “We all know that keeping our most vulnerable populations safe is critical now during the pandemic and beyond. Together, we will be able to bring more resources to these individuals in the comfort of their homes.”

Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and community paramedics caring for LTC residents now have the ability to call a central number to request a virtual visit or telephone call with an ED physician (this excludes emergency situations). ED physicians from both Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton will be available on a rotating basis 24/7 to respond to these requests.

This model will enable the team to work together to identify the best care path for each resident including services that can be administered in the LTC home with access to diagnostics as appropriate.

“This care initiative is just another way that the health care system is transforming to have a direct and positive impact on vulnerable seniors,” says Renee Guder, CEO, Shalom Village, which includes two long term care residences. “It is a win-win for the entire Hamilton community. With access to critical services now available for those who need it most, we can make a dramatic difference for those we serve.”

The initiative was piloted prior to the pandemic and officially launched in early April.

“Our goal is to optimize the health and well-being of those living in LTC homes and in other community settings going forward,” says Kelly O’Halloran, Director, Community and Population Health Services. “We are grateful to all of the individuals and organizations that have stepped forward to make this happen.”

Lillian Badzioch works in communications at Hamilton Health Sciences.