You asked, we answered

If you missed the Town Hall, or couldn’t listen to the whole conversation, you can listen to the full recording here.

As phones rang, beeped, and buzzed across Scarborough, SHN’s senior leadership team gathered in the CEO’s office – at the center of the conference table was a grey telephone.

At precisely 7 p.m., our President and CEO, Elizabeth Buller, put the phone on speaker, and opened SHN’s first community telephone Town Hall. 

From the first question – about getting help from personal support workers – to the last – on how our health network can communicate with the community – the Town Hall was a vibrant conversation about transforming health care in Scarborough. 

In all, more than 16,000 community members joined-in to discuss our health network’s future plans and current projects.

“It was a privilege to hear everyone’s ideas, thoughts, and questions about health care in Scarborough,” Ms Buller reflected after the Town Hall. 

“I appreciated the depth of the questions we received, and look forward sharing our community’s ideas and suggestions with our team to put into action.”

Here are some of your key questions answered:

Bringing our three hospitals and our satellite sites together as an integrated and health network  gives us the opportunity to design and provide health care services for our Scarborough community in the medium term, the next 15-20 years, and in the long-term, 20 years and beyond.

Right now, we are looking at how we deliver our care and services seeing if there are ways we can do that better. Our intent is to provide more care and service for the community of Scarborough by reinvesting resources into our hospital by redesigning our programs.

It is our belief and vision that, within the next 10 years, we should be able to provide the majority of care and services that our community members need right here in Scarborough in our hospitals and our satellite sites. And there would be limited reasons – except for highly specialized procedures, or people’s own will – to head south of Scarborough for care.

As an integrated health network, we want to build the services that people need here in the community and we have an opportunity to add services and grow services where we might have gaps.

We will be reaching out to our community in the coming weeks and months to learn where people see gaps in service and what we can do to address them.

As we are now Scarborough Health Network and three united hospital sites, we have to plan for the medium and short term of how best to deliver care for our ever-changing community, while working towards the future of health care in Scarborough.

Following an extensive, clinically-led, review of our Women’s and Children’s program we will be moving towards a two-site model for labour and delivery at our General and Centenary Hospitals. We are absolutely committed to Birchmount Hospital and will be reinvesting in programs there as part of the clinical service review.

For example, the area around Birchmount has one of the highest populations of elderly people in the GTA. As a result, we will be looking at what services that population requires.

We will also be looking at the mental health and addiction needs in Scarborough – particularly for youth – as well as the orthopedic (bone) surgery and cancer care needs.

We will continue to have both on-site services and on-call services at Birchmount, including paediatrics and anesthesia, to support the needs of patients who come to our Emergency departments. The Women’s and Children’s program will continue to ensure safe and high-quality care, no matter which hospital site a patient chooses.

Lowering wait times is absolutely a priority for Scarborough Health Network.

We are working with our partners in the Government and in the community to come up with innovative new ways to deal with this problem.  This includes working on securing support from the Provincial Government to redevelop our EDs at Centenary and Birchmount. Once these changes are in place it should help with patient flow and wait times

In our ED specifically, we triage patients based on need. The patients with the most urgent needs are seen first.  This can mean longer wait times for those who have less urgent care needs.

When we discuss future hospital facilities, it is important to distinguish between medium-term projects – those that will happen within the next 15 years – and long-term projects that will happen over the next 20 years.

In the medium term, we are working the provincial government toward plans for redeveloping the Emergency Departments at the Birchmount and Centenary hospitals.  We are also focused on building a dedicated space for diagnostic imaging at the General hospital.

The long-term process of shaping the future of our facilities – also called Master Planning – is a multi-stage process that will take 15-20 years.

Right now, we are evaluating options for new hospital facilities, transformed hospital facilities, or a combination of both.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has a seven-stage process for approving and funding plans for new hospital infrastructure. We are currently in the first stage and plan to submit three options to the ministry in the spring.

But before we submit options to the ministry, we want to hear your thoughts and ideas. In the coming months, we will host a community open house to present the three options and our vision for Scarborough Health Network’s future.

None of SHN’s hospitals will close until the Master planning process is complete and new or transformed infrastructure is ready to be used.

Parking prices are set by the Government of Ontario. It is important to understand that the fees we receive from parking go towards helping us buy much needed equipment for our sites and maintenance of parking facilities and lots which are not covered by government revenues.

Without the fees we would be in a much more difficult financial situation that would make it harder to continue providing exceptional care. There are options for those who have to visit their loved ones on a more regular basis and we try and keep these rates as reasonable as possible.