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March 13, 2018

A healthcare vision for Hamilton’s future

By: Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is on year three of a multi-year process to reimagine our hospitals for the next generation and beyond. We’ve looked at projected population changes and disease trends. We have forecasted the changing role technology will play in health care. Most importantly, we have listened to the voices of thousands of people across our community and our region.

Planning for the next 20 years is complex, to say the least. HHS is one of the largest hospital systems in the country. We currently operate on five sites and serve a catchment area of more than 2.3 million people. But with the best thinking of our staff and physicians, our community partners and the people we serve, we put together a vision for the future Hamilton Health Sciences. I am happy to say that we have now received an endorsement of that vision from the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN).

Here is our vision in a nutshell:

Create a healthier city and region by getting ahead of the demand for hospital care. We will work with community-based health partners to help people stay out of hospital. An early example of this work: we currently have an HHS outreach team that makes home visits to people who have been frequent users of the Emergency Department (ED). This award-winning program is proving very successful at addressing the root causes of people’s health challenges, with ED visits reduced by 46 per cent for program participants. In the future, we will expand this type of approach.

We have listened to the voices of thousands of people across our community and our region.

Work beyond our walls. Some kinds of health care absolutely need to occur in hospital, but other types do not. We are exploring how, when and where it makes sense to provide HHS care in community settings rather than making people come to the hospital. A current example is our LiveWell partnership with the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford. Together we are providing rehabilitation, injury prevention and disease management programs at local YMCA facilities. It is safe, highly effective and a better environment for our patients than the hospital. We will look to create more opportunities like this one.

Modernize our facilities for the next generation. Our oldest hospital facilities are not capable of meeting our region’s needs over the next 20 years and beyond. We need to modernize and grow our hospital space by 50 per cent to meet evolving standards of care, and population growth. We will cluster our acute care services around the Hamilton General Hospital on Barton Street, and the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre on Concession Street, expanding and modernizing these campuses.

We will relocate the programs offered at St. Peter’s Hospital to the Concession Street campus so we can serve more people. At the General Hospital campus we will build a new children’s and women’s hospital on Wellington Street, replacing the current facility at McMaster University Medical Centre. We will also modernize the General Hospital. In West Niagara, we will rebuild West Lincoln Memorial Hospital with a focus on short-stay and day services, providing a gateway to the specialty services located at other HHS hospitals.

Ultimately, our aim is to create a healthier community, where people can more easily access services in a variety of settings.

This new physical footprint will take approximately 20 years to achieve. We’re proposing that it unfold in two stages, with the first projects – the Juravinski and West Lincoln redevelopment – beginning in approximately five years if funding and approvals are received. We see the redevelopment at the General Hospital campus as Phase 2, with an estimated start time of approximately 10 years, again pending the necessary approvals and funding. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is now reviewing our facilities plan and will determine the sequencing.

This plan addresses the input we heard from our communities that the status quo in health care delivery is not an option. Our population is aging and with age comes a higher likelihood of chronic disease and disability. More than half of all our adult admissions at HHS last year were for people older than 65. Even cancer is now recognized as a disease associated with aging – the Canadian Cancer Society predicts a 40 per cent increase in new cases diagnosed over the next dozen years, largely because of the aging demographic. For these reasons, there is a real sense of urgency to modernize and expand the Juravinski Hospital, host of the Regional Cancer Program, and including the relocated St. Peter’s programs that primarily serve older adults.

Ultimately, our aim is to create a healthier community, where people can more easily access services in a variety of settings and can better manage their own health. We thank everyone who has helped us in our planning to date and we will keep the community updated as we progress.

For more information please visit our dedicated website: