Seamless Care Across Providers
Putting Patients First
It was a few days before Christmas when Amy first started feeling ill. Sick to her stomach and experiencing pain on one side, her husband convinced her to call her family doctor for help.
“It just didn’t get better,” says Amy. “I felt worse and worse. I didn’t know if anyone at my doctor’s office would be able to fit me in so close to Christmas but they did. They got me in that afternoon.”
Amy arrived at the Guelph Family Health Team that day to see the nurse practitioner (NP). When a routine examination could not confirm what was wrong, her NP decided to order an ultrasound to help identify the source of Amy’s pain.
“It was four days before Christmas and many offices were closed,” Amy explains. “I don’t know how many phone calls they made but I know they called a lot of different places to get me that ultrasound. When I mentioned that I lived in Erin, they thought they could try the Fergus hospital which is close to me.”
Less than two days later, Amy’s ultrasound at Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus showed that she had gallstones and needed surgery, results that were shared electronically with her family doctor. A referral to a Guelph area surgeon was made that same day which provided both relief and disappointment for Amy and her husband.
“My doctor’s office called me right away to let me know. I was so glad to truly know what was happening to me – it meant that I didn’t have to spend my Christmas holidays worrying about what it could be,” says Amy. “But at the same time, it meant that we were probably going to have to cancel our trip to Florida. A physician at my family doctor’s office took the time to meet with us to discuss the risks, they were very accommodating and we decided together that travel outside of the country would be too risky for my health.”
Amy’s surgery was booked for March 30th but it actually happened on February 12th. As a retiree with a flexible schedule, Amy was able to take an earlier appointment, available after another patient cancelled. Having surgery as soon as possible was a priority for Amy.
“I had the surgery and everything went very well,” says Amy. “Everyone was so accommodating and reassuring. I remember when gall bladder surgery was a very huge procedure, but I was home in my own bed by 6:30 pm that evening. It was a very easy recovery.”
Amy credits an integrated health system with her positive experience.
“My experience is a great example of when the system works well. In my case, it all worked together really smoothly. My doctor’s office called me right away with results of my ultrasound and everyone worked together to get me the care I needed. Look at how many different practitioners were involved and how smoothly it went. In Ontario, we’re very fortunate to have the quality of health care that we have. It’s pretty amazing.”
In 2015-16 at the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN), we worked to enhance our residents’ access to primary care and create a more seamless, coordinated experience to ensure that residents get the care they need, when they need it. This means connecting people who want it to primary care providers and helping to integrate all sectors of our health system to better serve patients.