New Dependancy Emergency Division, psychological well being attainable as LHSC outlines long-term grasp plan – London

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The London Health Sciences Center is considering several major changes as part of an ongoing plan for the future, including the creation of an addiction and mental health-focused emergency department and a specialist acute care center for adults, officials said.

Details of the potential changes, which could include the opening of a child and obstetrics center with a dedicated pediatric emergency room, are coming as LHSC works to finalize a master plan outlining how care will be delivered to a changing population in the coming decades of the area will ensure growing.

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

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“There was a lot of input, and a clear message came out that people want the best healthcare possible,” Brad Campbell, LHSC’s corporate hospital administrator, said Thursday.

“We’re really going forward now with the idea that we need a specialized adult acute care center to meet all of our needs in these acute areas like surgery, cancer, cardiac, emergency room, etc. to serve the adult population.”

The consultations also raised several key issues, including calls for improvements in accessibility and inclusion, waiting times and staffing, and mental health and addiction services.

“We’re looking at mental health and … how can we better serve populations that are currently underserved in buildings that were built 20 years ago and designed 30 years ago. And that includes an emergency department for mental health and addiction,” Campbell said.

LHSC officials are also considering establishing a child and obstetrics center with a specialized pediatric emergency department and are also looking at how it can better support end-of-life and palliative care patients, he said.

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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 contemplating major infrastructure upgrades. LHSC last presented a master plan in 2013, but it was rejected by the province.

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“The feedback was that it wasn’t innovative enough, it didn’t follow leading examples from international and national trends,” said Campbell.

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

“You check it then. You give us feedback. They agree. You do not agree. Assuming they agree, then we officially move on to the next stages,” Campbell said. Overall, the process takes about three to four years.

While there’s no formal cost estimate yet, Campbell believes it could cost more than $2 billion based on other projects in Ontario and what they’ve heard from other hospital CEOs drafting their own master plans.

“We’re not releasing this number because we’ve set a final budget, but if people ask us… we’re trying to get a feel for the scale. It’s no small change, that’s really the message.”

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

According to Campbell, between now and July, LHSC will be working with the community to gather more feedback and gain clarity on what some options might look like, including whether some services currently provided by LHSC could be better served by community partners.

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Campbell says LHSC will also consult with local hospital partners, including its five main referring hospitals and St Joseph’s Health Care London, which runs 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 having students studying within the LHSC.

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The development of the new master plan comes as LHSC, like other hospitals across Ontario, is struggling with staff shortages, overwhelmed emergency rooms, heavy patient traffic and long wait times.

LHSC’s adult and pediatric emergency departments have reported hour-long waits for non-urgent matters in recent weeks. As of Thursday, wait times in the adult emergency rooms at the University and Victoria Hospital were approximately eight hours.

“Not all solutions have to wait until the master plan is ready. If this (will) result in new buildings…there are things you can do to start down that path to solve some of these problems now,” Campbell said.

“Our goal is to resolve some of our emergence overloads…or the pressures we’re currently experiencing with Children’s Hospital on top of the other Children’s Hospitals.” Our goal is to find out what we can do now, but it has to be in the context of this long-term plan because it has to adapt.”

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On Tuesday, the Children’s Hospital said it was canceling some surgeries to ease capacity pressures, citing a 115 percent occupancy rate. Daily emergency room visits were 80 percent higher than normal, with wait times averaging six to eight hours, officials said at the time.

— With files by Amy Simon

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