Proposed Barrie Health Accord to address ‘root causes’ of emergency calls, transport, treatment

Jeff Lehman
File photo: Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman is pictured on Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Barrie, Ontario. The Canadian Press Images/Cogeco Data Services

A new proposed health initiative dubbed the Barrie Health Accord would address the “root causes” of emergency calls, transports and treatment, according to a memo to council from Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, dated Aug. 10.

The proposed initiative, which will be discussed at a general committee meeting Monday, would see local organizations collaborate to address the social determinants of health and root-cause issues that contribute to adverse health outcomes.

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“In late 2019, I initiated discussions with the chief medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) and the CEO of Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) to potentially collaborate on future planning so we can start shifting investment in health care upstream,” Lehman said in the memo.

“It is my opinion that a substantial investment in the determinants of health should be made alongside planned major investments in acute care (hospital expansion).”

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Lehman also said there’s a need to invest in other specialized care facilities, like long-term care homes and residential addiction treatment centres, that can take pressure off acute care.

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“Our population growth will result in a dramatic increase in the demand for health care as the Barrie area population is set to roughly double over the next 20 years,” Lehman wrote.

“Smart care is not only acute care but alternative and preventative care.”

There have been formal discussions with leadership from five local organizations that are proposed to sign the Health Accord, including Simcoe County, RVH, SMDHU, the Barrie Police Service and the City of Barrie. Each organization is set to bring the proposed accord to its council or board for review.

“I firmly believe that if we have an approach that actively and collaboratively involves all the major organizations in our community, we will be able to tackle root-case issues, shift our focus from a reactive environment to a proactive one in a way that is efficient and sustainable,” Lehman added.

“The Health Accord is the critical first step that commits the five most significant public sector organizations to this purpose, and begins the work that needs to be done to shift spending upstream.”

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