Ontario needs to regulate cost of accessing personal health records

From OPSEU Diablogue. Full post here

Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has called upon the province to regulate the amount doctors and other health care providers can charge to provide patients with copies of their health records.

Cavoukian writes that “access to one’s own records of personal information is a cornerstone of fair information practices and privacy legislation. In the context of health care, the right of access enables individuals to determine what shall or shall not be done with their own bodies, to exercise control over the collection, use or disclosure of their own personal health information, and to require the correction or amendment of that information.”
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Churning through patients leads to mass resignation


It’s a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. And unfortunately, the losers in this administrative boondoggle are the close to 200 patients who have taken advantage of the services offered at the Central Community Health Centre

To set the scene, the CCHC opened its doors at 359 Talbot St., in St. Thomas on Oct. 4 to serve residents of the city, Southwold and Central Elgin who don’t have a family doctor.

On opening day, three nurse practitioners, a doctor and a registered were at the clinic to greet patients.

Little more than two months later the staff has resigned citing serious safety concerns for patients of the CCHC.

Physician Janice Owen spoke to City Scope on Friday to explain why she handed in her resignation on Dec. 3.
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The Dalton McGuinty government says it’s showing lobbyists the door.

St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital was one of 14 hospitals which used taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist to get more money from the government.

Here’s more on the practice from the Toronto Sun …

Health Minister Deb Matthews said Tuesday she will introduce legislation to ban public institutions such as hospitals and universities from using tax dollars to hire consultants who lobby government for more tax dollars.

“There was a day when that’s how business got done,” she said. “We can’t afford that any more.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath identified 14 hospitals and nine universities and colleges that retained private lobbyists to approach the government.

“These public dollars should be going into front line services,” Horwath said.
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Ontario Health Coalition Applauds Ombudsman’s Report on LHIN Spin

Health Coalition Applauds Ombudsman’s Report on LHIN Spin: Demands McGuinty Stop Delaying the LHINs Review, Investigate Poor LHIN Decisions to Cut Hospital Care for Thousands of Residents

TORONTO, Aug. 10 /CNW/ – The Ontario Health Coalition applauds Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin’s report, “The LHIN Spin”. But the Coalition is deeply concerned that the McGuinty government has evaded its legislative requirement to conduct a full review of its Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and the legislation that governs them and is continuing a major round of health system cuts and restructuring while shutting out virtually all public advocates that have expressed concerns or criticized their reforms. Ironically, though the Ombudsman gave credit to the Ministry of Health for belatedly setting proposed standards for LHINs’ public consultation, the Ministry has not consulted with public advocates who have experience trying to work with the LHINs regarding these standards.

Ombudsman Andre Marin reported that the McGuinty government-appointed LHINs have rendered community engagement “meaningless”. He stated that LHIN board members counted conversations on golf courses and in grocery stores as public consultations. He noted that they relied on presentations of the provider organizations to make decisions affecting access to health care for tens of thousands of residents. He was particularly critical of the LHINs for adopting illegal by-laws to meet behind closed doors.
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Search for greener pastures is costing service to community

You would think with seven staffers jettisoned in recent months, there would be plenty of work space available at 99 Edward St., home of Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
And with a generous offer on the table from their landlord, the County of Elgin, which would see a 50% reduction in rent with an additional 4,000 square feet thrown in as a bonus, surely office space would be low on the priority scale for the publicly-funded health unit.
Boy, is this corner so not with the game plan.
Elgin St. Thomas Public Health (ESTPH) is now inviting proposals for “a physical needs assessment regarding the needs of general space for all ESTPH programs and services.”
Or, as executive director Cynthia St. John puts it, “The Board is seeking the assistance of a firm to guide us in determining all of our needs with respect to new office space – either in a new building or a renovated one.”
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Long Term Care Waitlists Growing – Homes Challenged to Respond

The Ontario Health Quality Council’s annual report, released today, sheds light on the stark reality in the province’s long term care system – demand far outstrips supply.

“There are about 76,000 long term care beds in homes across the province, which are 98 per cent full, and there is a waitlist of over 25,000 people. It’s not hard to see that this is creating backlogs in patient flow across the health care system,” said Donna Rubin, CEO of the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors (OANHSS).

In an analysis of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s waitlist data, OANHSS calculates that the greatest demand exists in the not-for-profit sector. Not-for-profits account for just over 40 per cent of all homes in the province and less than one half of all beds, but they are the number one preference of two thirds of individuals on the total provincial waitlist.

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Freedom of Information, the LHINs and the Ministry of Health

OPSEU recently submitted a number of freedom of information (FOI) requests to the Ministry of Health, one of which is still making its way through the system.

The early responses we have would suggest that “officially” little information is finding its way from the Local Health Integration Networks to the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health’s access and privacy office has told us that the only way to gather this information is to apply separately to all 14 provincial LHINs. It would be up to us to collate this information to get a provincial snapshot of what’s going on.

One has to wonder how the Ministry is making policy decisions if it doesn’t really collect such information from the LHINs?

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