Thursday, 30 November 2017

Be a good visitor during flu season

With the holidays just around the corner, we want to help you make the festive season as safe and healthy as possible for everyone in Muskoka, not only our patients. Influenza season is ramping up in the province, including Muskoka, and there are some basic principles of infection prevention that are important to remember if you’re planning to visit a friend or family member at the hospital.
To start, if you have flu-like symptoms or generally are feeling unwell it is best that you stay home instead of visiting at the hospital. It will be important that you get plenty of rest and drink lots of clear fluids until you are feeling better. You should avoid close contact with people if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Fever
  • New, serious cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
If you are visiting a friend or loved one at either of our sites we ask you to:
  • clean your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub – especially before entering and after exiting a hospital room;
  • sneeze and cough into your elbow; and,
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Getting the flu shot is another way we can all protect each other. It’s the best way to safeguard against influenza and helps to minimize the severity of the illness. I’m proud to say that 78% of our staff have been immunized, which is a remarkable commitment to patient safety.

In the hospital, when patients are suffering from influenza, they are put under isolation precautions to prevent the flu from being transmitted to other patients or care providers. This includes the need for visitors and staff to wear protective equipment such as a mask, a gown, and/or gloves. And when influenza levels get to a certain point in the hospital or in the community at large, we may be required to limit or restrict visitors.

With some good visiting etiquette and common sense around flu symptoms, we can help keep our most vulnerable patients safe and ensure our workforce is healthy and strong to provide the care our patients need.

The healthier you are this holiday season, the more time you can enjoy with friends and family.

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.
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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.