Dialogue Volume 13 Issue 2 2017 - Page 42

health system What can the office address? the patient experience. The work services while they wait at home is meant to be collaborative, not for a placement. Again, com- • The Patient Ombudsman can try to adversarial. She says Ontarians munications issues can be at the resolve or investigate a complaint regard- expect the Ombudsman to bring core of inappropriate or poorly ing a health sector organization, which the patient voice to the atten- planned discharge from hospital. includes hospitals, long-term care homes tion of public policy-makers and Access to care complaints or Community Care Access Centres. decision-makers. revolve around issues like long Ms. Elliott reports that health- wait times and overcrowding in • The office doesn’t have jurisdiction over care sector organizations have hospitals. Not surprising, the regulated health-care professionals. The been eager to work with her. office sees a lack of equity in the Colleges continue to handle complaints They see the Patient Om- way services are delivered across about specific individuals. budsman as a bridge to bring Ontario – a complex issue with everybody together and resolve no easy answers. There’s a con- • Generally, the Patient Ombudsman can’t lingering problems. “There has sensus among patients and health deal with complaints that are the subject been enormous goodwill from sector organizations alike that of a proceeding. both sides,” she says. technology could and should be Getting the office up and run- used to greater advantage, espe- • The office lacks jurisdiction over ning was the priority for year cially in small, rural and northern privately-owned retirement homes. one. For year two, Ms. Elliott communities. will focus on outreach. That Resolutions can range, but can means making more people often take the form of simple aware of the office and what recognition of the issue, an it can achieve, and connecting with marginalized and apology, a policy revision or (after an investigation) a vulnerable populations. “We want this office to be as ac- recommendation for a change to prevent someone else cessible and inclusive as possible.” from going through a similar experience. What can health-care professionals do to reduce the Ms. Elliott’s office will report to the Minister of complaints coming forward? Just like in medicine, Health and Long-Term Care annually on their activi- prevention can be far more desirable and effective than ties and recommendations, and provide reports to Local a cure. Health Integration Networks as appropriate. Ms. Elliott says that doctors and their health-care col- leagues can be part of solutions that occur at the earliest Longstanding interest in health policy possible stage. For instance, by the time a complaint Ms. Elliott is a lawyer by profession, and spent almost gets to a patient advisor in a hospital, the issue is already a decade as an MPP, first for Whitby-Ajax and then inflamed. “Organizations that are proactive end up with for Whitby-Oshawa. For several years, she was her fewer upset patients.” party’s health critic. In the community, she has served She feels privileged to be the province’s first Patient as a volunteer or board member with, among others, Ombudsman, and says this is an exciting time for the Grandview Children’s Centre (young people with health care. “We’re in the midst of a transformation, special needs), Durham Mental Health Services, the from primarily provider-centred care to patient-cen- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Abilities tred care. I think we’re on the verge of making some Centre in Whitby. changes that will have major impact on patients and The office can connect complainants, their caregivers families.” and health-sector organizations, all to improve care and MD 42 Dialogue Issue 2, 2017