Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews announced Thursday more than 900 new nurses to improve health care access. Matthews, who has been plagued by the ORNGE scandal, made the announcement in downtown Toronto during a visit to a senior's Harbourfront home.
Earlier this year, the Ontario government announced its Action Plan for Health Care – Healthy Change. Its goal is to have faster access to medical care, improve the overall system and maintaining its citizens’ health. The Liberal government contends this initiative will build upon the gains it made when it took office in 2003.
On Thursday, Health Minister Deb Matthews visited a Harbourfront condominium where a senior is receiving home care as opposed to staying in the hospital. During her stop in downtown Toronto, Matthews announced the creation of more than 900 new nursing positions for 2012 that will be allocated throughout the entire health care system.
These 929 nurses will be placed in home and community care, long-term care homes, hospitals and mental health care programs in schools. The province’s nursing strategy is attempting to progress the allotment, preservation and staffing of nurses across Ontario.
Ontario Health Minister, alongside Dr. Hess and five health care professionals, pose for a photo-op at an announcement of enhancing home care treatment.
The plan will cost approximately $80 million per year and some of the new nursing positions will look like this:
- 200 nurses to care for long-term care home residents.
- 191 telemedicine nurses to help patients in remote areas through online communication.
- 144 nurses to work in schools for mental health issues.
- 126 rapid response nurses to visit patients in their homes 24 hours after being discharged from the hospital.
Prior to her announcement, the health minister was able to speak with Dr. Hess, who is receiving the necessary treatment in his home – and also has a delightful view from his bed where he can see Queen’s Quay and the harbour.
“We’re celebrating an important step forward,” said Matthews, who spoke alongside health care professionals. “We’re hiring over 900 new nurses and we’ll be working at a variety of settings in homes of people like Dr. Hess. We’re hiring rapid response nurses because we know for some people as they leave the hospital and get settled in at home there can be a gap in service – that they might not get the medication they need, they might not get attached to the supports they need.”
Matthews added that this is where Dr. Hess wants to be and that anyone who needs medical treatment would rather be home than to be in the hospital. “It’s up to the government to do whatever we can to support people where they want to be.”
Dr. Hess is receiving the necessary medical treatment at his home. As part of the Ontario government's initiative, more seniors, and patients in general, can receive the proper treatment at their homes instead of the hospital.
“We are embarking on a transformation of health care in Ontario and a big part of that is providing care for people outside the institutions of hospital and long-term care providing care for people in their own home,” explained Matthews, who announced earlier in the week of slashing fees doctors are paid, which will save Queen’s Park about $338 million this year.
“This means we have to do things a little bit different so in this budget we made a decision that our biggest priority was investing in home care and community care and if we were going to do that we had to hold the line on some other things.”
The “other things” include a zero percent base increase for hospitals and on what the province spends on physicians.
“You can only spend a $1 once and I’m absolutely determined to spend money where it’s going to make the biggest difference for people.”