New addictions emergency, mental health a possibility as LHSC drafts long-term master plan – London

The London Health Sciences Center is considering several major changes as part of an ongoing work plan for the future, including the creation of an emergency service focusing on addictions and mental health, and a specialist care center adult treble, officials said.

Details of the possible changes, which could also see the opening of a pediatric and obstetric care center with a specialist pediatric emergency room, come as the LHSC works to finalize a master plan outlining how it will provide care during decades as the region’s population changes and grows.

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The LHSC says it consulted with hundreds of its staff, as well as nearly 3,000 community members and officials from 36 partner agencies when developing the plan, while also using local economic forecasts, national trends and international, population projections and other datasets.

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“There were a lot of contributions, and a clear message that came out was that people want the best possible health care,” Brad Campbell, corporate hospital executive director at LHSC, said Thursday.

“We are really moving forward with the idea that we need an acute specialist care center for adults that will meet all our needs in these acute areas like surgery, cancer, heart, emergency, etc. . to serve the adult population.

The consultations also saw several key themes emerge, including calls for improved accessibility and inclusiveness, wait times and staffing, and mental health and addictions care. dependencies.

“We are looking at mental health and… how can we better serve populations that are currently not well served in buildings that were built 20 years ago and designed 30 years ago. And that would include a mental health and addictions crisis service,” Campbell said.

LHSC officials are also considering the creation of a pediatric and obstetric care center containing a specialist pediatric emergency room, and are also considering how it can better support end-of-life and palliative care patients, he said. declared.

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The three-phase master plan process is a routine process undertaken with the Department of Health when an organization, such as LHSC, is considering major infrastructure renovations. LHSC last submitted a master plan in 2013, but it was rejected by the province.

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“Comments were that it wasn’t innovative enough, that it didn’t look at leading examples of international and national trends,” Campbell said.

Development of the new master plan began in 2017, a process that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. Officials are currently in the early stages of phase one, and a finalized master plan is expected to be sent to the ministry and Ontario Health in July for approval.

“They then examine it. They share their comments with us. They approve. They don’t approve. Assuming they approve, we then officially move on to the next steps,” Campbell said. In total, the process takes about three to four years.

Although there is no official cost estimate yet, Campbell says they believe it could cost upwards of $2 billion based on other projects in Ontario and what they have heard from other hospital CEOs who write their own master plans.

“We released that number, not because we’ve come up with a final budget, but when people ask us…we try to feel the order of magnitude. It’s not a small change, that’s really the message.

If approved, the new master plan will succeed the one put in place in the 1990s when the current Victoria Hospital campus was built.

By July, Campbell says LHSC will engage with the community to gather more feedback and to clarify what some options might look like, including whether certain services currently provided by LHSC would be better served by community partners.

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Campbell says LHSC will also consult with local hospital partners, including its five main referral hospitals and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, which operates the Parkwood Institute. Other partners include the Southwest Center for Forensic Mental Health Care in Elgin County, Fanshawe College and Western University – the latter two each have students learning within LHSC.

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The development of the new master plan comes as LHSC, like other Ontario hospitals, grapples with staffing shortages, overwhelmed emergency rooms, high patient volumes and long wait times. waiting.

The adult and pediatric emergency departments at LHSC have reported wait times of several hours in recent weeks for non-emergency issues. On Thursday, wait times reached around eight hours at the adult emergency room at the University and Victoria Hospital.

“Not all solutions have to wait for the master plan to be finalized. If there (are) new buildings coming from this…there are things you can do then to start on that path, to start solving some of these issues now,” Campbell said.

“Our goal is to resolve some of our congestion in the emergence … or the pressure that we are currently under with the children’s hospital, in addition to the other children’s hospitals. Our goal is to figure out what we can do now, but it has to be in the context of that long-term plan because it has to align.

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On Tuesday, the children’s hospital announced it would cancel some surgeries in a bid to ease capacity pressures, citing an occupancy rate of 115%. Daily ER visits were 80% higher than normal, with average wait times of six to eight hours, officials said at the time.

— With files from Amy Simon

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