Thursday, 21 September 2017

Provide Your Feedback on Future Hospital Care in MAHC Survey

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare wants to hear what is important to you when considering future hospital care.
Following five community information sessions, an online survey is live to gather public feedback on potential models for delivering hospital services in the future and proposed criteria that MAHC’s new Capital Plan Development Task Force will use to evaluate those models before making a recommendation to the MAHC Board of Directors. This is the first in a number of surveys MAHC will be using to seek community input.
Despite a previous Board of Directors decision around a preferred one-site model for the future, the task force is further reexamining a two-site model before making a recommendation to the Board of Directors in the spring of 2018. There are three models on the table for public feedback that will be evaluated by the task force:
Two Sites (not status quo) – Maintain two sites with Emergency Departments, recognizing the need to further single site programs and services across the two sites. Recent examples of single sited services include Gynecological Surgery, Ophthalmology (cataract surgery), and Chemotherapy. Service siting would be based on clinical needs and service co-location requirements to create greater efficiencies, larger volumes and critical mass, and reducing duplication of staffing and equipment.
One Site Inpatient / One Site Outpatient – Maintain two facilities with emergency care. One site would have a primarily outpatient focus (few or no beds) and could include services such as some day surgery, specialty diagnostics (such as MRI), clinics (such as Dialysis), etc. The other site would have a primarily inpatient focus (majority of beds) and could include inpatient services such as medical/surgical care, intensive care and obstetrics.
One Hospital (centrally located) – Provide all programs and services on a single hospital site. Comprehensive work would be done to determine the role of potential vacated building(s) including the ability to support local urgent and primary care needs, community services, Health Hub development, or other alternative models. This exploration will include determining best ways to support access for urgent care needs.
The survey link is and can also be accessed through the home page of the MAHC website where the community presentation and an information brochure are also posted. The survey will remain open until Friday, October 13. As well, hard copies are available in a number of community locations, such as Chambers of Commerce, municipal offices, libraries, physician offices, and some recreation facilities.
Your feedback is critical to helping the Capital Plan Development Task Force make the best recommendation for the future to the MAHC Board of Directors. I encourage everyone and especially our future generations to complete the survey.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Writing a New Chapter in Future Planning

Earlier this month, we announced news that Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare received approval from the Health Capital Investment Branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to proceed with Stage 1 Proposal planning. Stage 1 is one of five distinct stages in the Ministry’s capital planning process for redeveloping hospitals, and builds on the future planning work that MAHC began in 2012. We know the importance of having a defined plan for hospital care for future generations. We have aging buildings and failing infrastructure that require tens of millions of dollars today to meet evolving health care standards for safe and high-quality care. We want to be making sound investments and decisions that are in sync with a recognized and supported plan for the future.

What is Stage 1? The Stage 1 Proposal will further explore and evaluate development options for a future model of hospital care. It positions MAHC to move forward with more detailed planning and further analysis of the different models presented in MAHC's Pre-Capital Submission in 2015. The Pre-Capital Submission is essentially a 15-page template that poses a number of questions we answered to paint a picture of MAHC's role as a health care provider in the local health system. What most people remember about our Pre-Capital is a single site service delivery model recommended by the MAHC Board of Directors to ensure the best quality, safety and sustainability of acute care services in the region. While the Stage 1 planning will continue to build on MAHC’s future planning work, it doesn’t mean the Board will reach the same conclusion that one hospital is the best model for the future. The Ministry expects that we will give further consideration to the use of one or both of the current hospital sites. And, to quote MAHC’s Board Chair Evelyn Brown, “the world has changed.”

So how will planning for the future be different this time? Quite simply it’s like writing a new chapter in a novel about the future. The slate is blank to some extent. A lot has changed since we started our planning work five years ago, such as: 

Patients First Act

Introduced by Ministry of Health Eric Hoskins as Bill 41, the Patients First Act became law in 2016. Changes supported by the new legislation will improve local connections between primary care providers, inter-professional health care teams, hospitals, public health and home and community care to ensure a smoother patient experience and transitions. Once fully implemented, there is no doubt these changes will impact the role of acute care hospitals across the province.

MAHST (Muskoka and Area Health System Transformation)

The MAHST initiative has been looking at an overall transformation of the Muskoka health system that aims to achieve better health, better care, better value and better experience through an integrated health structure where one overall body is responsible for delivering health care across the entire region. The outcome of this redesign will have far reaching impact, including how easily people can access community primary care to how they rely on hospital for emergency and acute care needs. MAHC is keen to continue engaging the right people to build on MAHC’s future planning work and MAHST’s local health system transformation work as we have always believed that MAHST’s findings will have a significant influence on shaping future acute care in Muskoka.

Capital Plan Development Task Force

The MAHC Capital Plan Development Task Force will oversee the Stage 1 Proposal work and recommend a preferred model for the future to the MAHC Board. This task force will have very broad membership, including members of the MAHC Board, administration and medical staff, hospital foundations and auxiliaries, primary care, municipal representatives from the District of Muskoka, North and South Muskoka and East Parry Sound, MAHST, the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, and the greater Muskoka community. We are committed to continue working collaboratively with key stakeholders and facilitating extensive community engagement throughout the Stage 1 work.

Projections – Population, Beds, Services

There will be new population data available to us through the 2016 census. As well, projections in MAHC’s Pre-Capital were based on planning horizons that were five years, 10 years and 20 years from when we began compiling data in 2014/15. Our new baseline for data will be the 2016/17 fiscal year, and looking out eight years to 2024/25, 15 years to 2031/32, 20 years to 2036/37 and 30 years to 2046/47. We have always committed to ever-greening and refining any proposal for the future so that it reflects the most current information available.

Innovation and Technology

Five years ago no one was talking about self-driving cars, and now this technology is so close to being realized that every major automotive manufacturer has one ready to hit the market. In the recent years, telemedicine through videoconferencing has changed how we can access specialists without driving to the big city where they are based. We’re likely not far from a more digital world of health care where 3D printing, handheld ultrasound, and digital medical wireless devices that can check your vital signs are commonplace. Innovation and technology will greatly impact how care is provided by hospitals in the future.

So in writing a new chapter about the future, I want to reinforce there are no preconceived notions. No decisions made. We are starting with a clean slate to some extent, building on past work to find a solution for the future that we can all support and get behind. Our future is bright. Continue this journey with us and stay updated through our website at

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Your donations are needed today. Please give!

There has been a lot of talk in Muskoka about the future of health care in our area. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s (MAHC) planning work around the future of hospital care continues. More recently, another group called the Muskoka and Area Health System Transformation (MAHST) has been looking more broadly at how health care is provided across the entire region, not just in hospital.
Advertisement - We're here for you, please be here for us

All of this planning is important to having a defined road map for the future. At MAHC, we expect the work of MAHST will help to shape the future plans for acute care and the hospitals. But we also know that this planning work has left our residents, both permanent and seasonal, with a certain amount of uncertainty about the future. The MAHST work that is being done now is part of a long-range planning exercise that contemplates the region’s future health care needs. Please rest assured that for many years to come, the two existing hospital sites in Muskoka will be here as it typically takes 15 to 20 years to successfully work through all of the required planning stages and approvals to build or redevelop a hospital.

I believe this is truly an exciting time for health care in Muskoka and area and collectively through MAHST we are on a solid pathway toward a future 'made in Muskoka' vision that transforms  health care service delivery in our region. MAHST's objective is to look at all the health care services to see what efficiencies can be realized, to identify gaps and improve system connectedness to better the patient’s and family’s journey.

While these discussions are necessary and important, emotional reactions are only natural: apprehension, uneasiness and even fear surface. This uneasiness could lead to an erosion of philanthropic support for our hospitals. Without donor support for our millions in capital needs and technology, the present-day care we provide is at risk.  Although the province pays for hospital operations, the community – through fundraising events, donations and other forms of support –  is expected to pay for most of the hospitals' new equipment. The government does not provide dollars for making sure we keep pace with technology. Our buildings are getting older and so are the basic tools that our teams use to look after you and keep you safe. We have more than $8 million in capital needs, and that doesn't include $30 million in infrastructure needs, like roof replacements, outdated elevator controls, and so on.

It is critical that we all do what we can to invest in hospital care today, so we can maintain the high level of patient care we expect and deserve. Our hospital foundations continue to need your generous support and we need this support now more than ever. Millions of dollars are required annually.

In community hospitals like ours, the impact of your donation is significant. Donations make a difference every day in providing patients with high quality, safe care, and in recruiting the best providers to our team. Every penny counts. Please give what you can and help MAHC save lives and provide the best care we can. The future is important and needs to be planned for, but supporting our current needs is equally important to ensure current sustainability of care.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Patient and Family Handbook Supports the Patient Experience

Oftentimes a hospital stay is unplanned and you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. While you are staying at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), it is important to us that you know as much about our hospital sites as possible so you are comfortable in your surroundings.

Handbook cover
Handbook cover
To improve the patient experience at MAHC, we are launching a new Patient and Family Handbook to share information upon your admission about our hospital facilities, what to expect during your hospital stay, ways in which your care team works to keep you safe, and how you can be involved as a partner in your care.

I encourage you to use your handbook, and most importantly your very own diary section on the centerfold where you or your family members can document your care journey. You can use it to write down instructions from your care team, note medications and/or other needs you may have, reminders of upcoming appointments or follow-up items after you have been discharged, or to jot down any questions you may have so you don’t forget to ask them.

I encourage you to take your handbook with you when you leave the hospital so that you have an ongoing resource about MAHC at your fingertips anytime. The handbook is also available on our website, so please do have a look!

We are proud to be able to provide this informative package to inpatients, which was created at no charge for MAHC thanks to appropriate community advertising that has supported the production and printing of the handbook. A big thank you goes out to all the local advertisers for their support! We couldn’t have done this for our patients without you!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Engaging a Patient and Family Voice at MAHC

The patient and family perspective has never been more important or influential in health care than it is today. It is only when we see health care through the eyes of patients and their families that we can truly improve their experience.

Building on MAHC’s vision to centre care around patients and families, we have formed a Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare. The committee includes 10 volunteer Patient/Family Advisors who come from different walks of life and different pockets of Muskoka. But the one thing they all have in common is their desire to share their own perspectives and that would benefit other patients’ and families’ experiences. A Patient/Family Advisor is someone who has had a recent experience either as a patient, or the family member of a patient being cared for at MAHC.

MAHC’s new Patient and Family Advisory Committee provides a venue to bring the patient and family perspective into consideration when we develop policies, programs and services. It provides us with another way to listen to our patients and improve their experience, and an opportunity for patients and families to provide targeted feedback to us when we are developing new programs or initiatives, making changes to our buildings and creating new processes.

I am very proud to introduce MAHC’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee, which met for the first time on January 18, 2017. The committee includes Debbie Provan, Donna Denny, Aaron Goodchild, Tammy Purvis-Ford, Robert Martin, Trudy Franklin, Linda Shier, Pat Looker, Bill Paterson and Brian Ferguson, and members of MAHC’s administration. The committee is co-chaired by Chief Quality & Nursing Executive Karen Fleming, and Donna Denny.

MAHC's Patient and Family Advisory Committee
Front row (from left) are Debbie Provan, MAHC Chief Quality & Nursing Executive Karen Fleming, Donna Denny and Aaron Goodchild.  Back row (from left) are MAHC Executive Assistant Christine Loshaw, Tammy Purvis-Ford, Robert Martin, Trudy Franklin, HDMH Manager of Support Services Bev Leslie-Suddaby, Linda Shier, Pat Looker, Bill Paterson and MAHC Chief Executive Officer Natalie Bubela. Absent from photo is Brian Ferguson.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Understanding Influenza: Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Fighting a bug is never fun, but how can you get better if you don’t know what you’re dealing with? Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to tell the difference.
Influenza, or the seasonal flu, is a common and highly contagious and infectious respiratory disease that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza viruses can change rapidly and that’s why there is a new flu shot made every year to protect against what is anticipated to be the three most common circulating virus strains. The flu shot is safe and is your best protection against influenza.
The common cold, on the other hand, is a mild infection of the nose and throat caused by a variety of viruses. Although a cold might linger, the symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, cough and sore throat, remain mild.

While some of the symptoms of influenza are the same as the common cold, the flu almost always presents with a sudden onset of cough and fever. It is also common to feel fatigue, muscle aches, a headache and a decreased appetite. Sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of the flu. The flu lasts longer and is more severe than a cold. And don’t forget influenza is contagious to others for 24 hours before you feel any symptoms and for an additional five days from the onset of symptoms.
High (37.7c – 38.8c)
Can last three to four days
General Aches/Pains
Often Severe
Fatigue, Weakness
Can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion
Stuffy Nose
Sore Throat
Mild to moderate
Can become severe
Sinus congestion, asthma, earache
Bronchitis, pneumonia, possible hospitalization
Clean your hands often
Avoid sick people
Influenza vaccine once a year
Clean your hands often
Over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms
Over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms
Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) within 24-48 hours after symptoms start
Some people shrug off the flu, thinking it’s a cold. If you have flu-like symptoms and are at greater risk of developing complications if you do get sick, contact a health care provider as soon as possible. See your family doctor about antiviral medication, get lots of rest, eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. Children under six years of age and pregnant women are just two examples of people at risk of complications. People with chronic conditions such as heart disease, liver or kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes, asthma and chronic lung disease and those who are immunosuppressed can also be compromised and are at high risk for complications from the flu.
If you come down with the flu, please avoid visiting MAHC’s Emergency Departments unless your symptoms worsen. This is because many of our patients in the hospital are at greater risk of complications from the flu. They tend to be more susceptible to infection and that’s why we ask that you do not visit if you are ill with any respiratory illness.
Have you been vaccinated? It’s not too late. The flu shot is your best chance at protecting not only yourself, but your friends and family from infection. Keep in mind that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to offer you full protection. It’s also important to remember the age old rules for protecting yourself and others from influenza and the common cold:
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water;
  • Stay home if you feel unwell;
  • Stay at least six feet away from people who are ill;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched items and surfaces;
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.

Friday, 30 September 2016

MAHC’s 2016 Community Health Bulletin is Hot off the Presses!

I am pleased to invite you to explore Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s 2016 Community Health Bulletin. Like an annual report, the Community Health Bulletin newsletter is dedicated to keeping our communities across the Muskoka and East Parry Sound regions updated on what we’ve been up to at MAHC over the past year, and highlights some of the exceptional work of our teams. MAHC’s success and the outstanding care that we aim to provide are because of the hard work and dedication of our staff and physicians, and Board, Foundation and Auxiliary volunteers. Everything from getting to know our Board of Directors to some of the special projects that support improved quality and patient safety, the 2016 Community Health Bulletin demonstrates that we have a lot to celebrate and be proud of!

It is because of our people that we are achieving our mission to proudly serve our communities and deliver best patient outcomes with high standards and compassion. Through our Strategic Plan, our focus is on five key strategic areas: Quality Care & Safety, Partnerships & Collaboration, Education & Innovation, People, and Sustainable Future. This annual community newsletter showcases some of the achievements we have made on these strategic directions, as well as important initiatives underway over the course of the past year. MAHC is proud to play an active role in the local health care system, working to deliver the very best to our patients every day though safe, high-quality, sustainable care.

Watch for your copy in the mail the first week of October and find out more about what’s happening at your hospitals. I also look forward to hearing from you about how we can improve our communications. Through Your Opinion Matters survey, you can help us better understand how we are doing in communicating with you. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback with us by completing the survey.