Erie St. Clair LHIN Preparing for Surge Season

The Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has been planning for the last several months to help limit the effects of the annual “surge season” and ensure patients are receiving the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Over the winter and particularly during the holidays, there is an increased demand for health care services, mostly due to influenza. Combined with office closures and reduced hours for many health service providers across the region, this leads to increased Emergency Department wait times, hospital admissions, and delayed access to long-term care homes due to related outbreaks.

The Erie St. Clair LHIN is supporting the system to address these pressures by coordinating the use of monitoring tools amongst partners. This includes hospitals using a tool called Oculys to monitor occupancy levels, admits, Emergency Department length-of-stay, and other relevant information to make informed decisions around capacity and flow.

This is then supported by LHIN home and community care in reviewing all potential discharge options with patients and families, which includes the possibility of returning home with services. The Intensive Hospital to Home (IHH) program aims to transition Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients back to their home, with a robust service plan for up to 60 days. As well, through eRehab, the LHIN can provide rehabilitation services in the home to patients who have experienced a mild stroke or received a hip/knee replacement surgery.

Additionally, in Windsor/Essex, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Situational Awareness Dashboard is a tool that provides real-time data on the status of EMS deployment. Paramedics are not permitted to offload patients if beds are not available in the Emergency Department, leading to delays for ambulance services across the county. With EMS, hospitals, and the LHIN using this dashboard, resources are better managed and patients can be re-directed to emergency departments with capacity.

Throughout the surge season, the LHIN and its health service providers will be using the Emergency Management Communications Tool for influenza reporting and coordinated emergency responses when surge levels become critical and lead to the cancellation of elective surgeries, EMS unavailability for 911 calls, etc.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced funding for additional surge beds to address capacity issues in hospital – including 49 beds across Erie St. Clair.

People are encouraged to get a flu shot and to practice proper handwashing as a defence against influenza and to help ease surge volumes in the Emergency Department.

QUOTES

“We know that annually, between November and April, there is an influx of patients requiring health care services for a variety of reasons. Knowing the strain this can have on the health care system, particularly our hospitals, the Erie St. Clair LHIN has been working proactively with our system partners throughout the year to put a strategy in place for the upcoming surge season. We are anticipating that a collaborative, system-level approach will help limit the negative effects the seasonal surge will have on health care providers and patients alike.”
- Ralph Ganter, CEO, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)

“It is important that patients are aware of the health care services available to them in the community, particularly during the holiday season when many health care providers have reduced hours or office closures. In addition to more than 1,800 service profiles, www.ErieStClairHealthline.ca also features a Non-Emergency Medical Services page that includes holiday hours and contact information for organizations including walk-in clinics, urgent care centres, pharmacies, and crisis intervention assistance. This information is also available by calling the LHIN Information and Referral team at 1-888-447-4468.”
- Shannon Sasseville, Director, Communications, Public Affairs & Community Engagement, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)

LEARN MORE

Read more about Erie St. Clair LHIN at www.eriestclairlhin.on.ca
Read more about Erie St. Clair LHIN Home & Community Care at www.healthcareathome.ca/eriestclair

For more information, please contact Shannon Sasseville, Director of Communications, Public Affairs, and Community Engagement at 519-784-1879 or at shannon.sasseville@lhins.on.ca