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Group photo of team members, community partners, clinicians, strategic partners, families and others celebrating the expansion of the MCH Extensive Needs Service at Ron Joyce Children's Health Centre.
MCH Extensive Needs team members, community partners, clinicians, strategic partners, families and others celebrated the expansion of the MCH Extensive Needs Service at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.
May 16, 2024

Extensive Needs Service program expanding program access and community partnerships

On May 15, Hamilton Health Science’s McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) celebrated the launch of the Extensive Needs Service (ENS) program community partnerships at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre (RJCHC). The event recognized the establishment of community partners, the growth of program capacity, and the increased access to care for children, youth, and their families across the Hamilton and Niagara regions.

Team members across the program and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), clinicians, community partners, strategic partners, families, and others critical to program delivery attended.

The Extensive Needs Service program – a first-of-its-kind program in Ontario – was launched in 2023 as a proof-of-concept to connect children and youth with extensive developmental, behavioural, mental, and physical health needs to individualized and integrated care. MCH is one of three hospitals in Ontario selected to deliver the program, alongside two peer hospitals – the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (HBKRH).

Thanks to MCH community partnerships, more families across the Hamilton and Niagara region will have access to the wrap-around services that address the unmet and extensive needs of these children.

“They have given our family the hope we needed.”

Bruce Squires, president of MCH and VP of Women & Children’s Health at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), addressed the group noting the positive outcomes the program has seen within its first year across the province.

“When we launched this program with our peer hospitals, we had high hopes in implementing a model of care that puts families at the centre with expert medical, developmental, and social services wrapped around them,” says Bruce Squires, president of MCH and VP, Women & Children’s Health at HHS. “Now, thanks to this established and growing network of care, we have more access points across the region, so more families can receive individualized care that addresses their unmet needs.”

The early outcome data of the program has been extremely promising. Since the program launch at MCH last year, over 390 children have received care at McMaster Children’s Hospital with over 4,000 clinical visits. At the provincial level, over 1,200 children have been served in the ENS program across McMaster Children’s Hospital, CHEO and HBKRH.

“Each step we take as a network and every partnership we form is building a community of care, ensuring that every child has the resources and support to thrive, regardless of their individual circumstances,” said Squires.

The celebration was followed by a tour of the RJCHC space that highlighted the integration of the program across several areas of pediatric care at MCH and how this work will be delivered in the community.

Melissa, mother of 10-year-old Lucas who was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an intellectual disability, ADHD, and anxiety, and his 13-year-old brother who was diagnosed with two life-threatening aneurysms, shared her experience with the ENS program since their family was enrolled earlier this year.

“Enter our saving grace – the Extensive Needs Program, and our thoughtful and dedicated social worker Jenna and our fabulous organized and caring integrated service consultant Kim,” said Melissa. “They have given our family the hope we needed.”

She highlighted how challenging navigating the current health care system can be with complex health care needs, even as a health care worker herself.

“Despite working in health care and my knowledge of community and hospital resources, I have struggled immensely to find all the services that my son needs.”

“With this program supporting us, I feel confident that he will have the best care, in the right place, at a critical time in his life,” Melissa continued. “Knowing that they are a call or email away is priceless, and every child with complex needs deserves to have the type of wrap around care that this program provides.”

Learn more about the Extensive Needs Service.