Health report finds access to care an issue

Nearly all of Eastern Ontario residents have a primary care provider, but less than half can access care the same or next day, according to a report released Thursday.

That puts us lower than the provincial average of 60%.

Measuring Up, the annual report from Health Quality Ontario, found province-wide, slightly more than half of people surveyed (54%) report evening or weekend access to primary care — without going to the emergency room — is very difficult or somewhat difficult.

“For each of us in Ontario, health plays a central role in our lives, and we rightly expect to have a top-quality health system that is there for us when we need it,” HQO president and CEO Dr. Joshua Tepper said in a statement.

“Knowing how healthy we are and how well our system is working helps us all identify what needs to improve.”

But overall, HQO found Ontarians are living longer and feeling better about their health.

Life expectancy in Ontario has improved to 81.5 years — second-highest among Canadian provinces, after British Columbia.

Ontario’s health system is performing better in some areas versus five and 10 years ago.

When it comes to how we view our health, two-thirds of Ontarians rate their health as excellent or very good, more than in most other peer countries in the world.

Many Ontarians have unhealthy lifestyles, though, with nearly half inactive.

One in five still smokes.

And challenges surrounding access to care may depend on geography.

Up north, there are significantly higher rates of obesity and smoking, and twice the rate of premature avoidable death than those in other parts of the province.

This translates to a five-year difference in life expectancy between the healthiest region in the province and the north.

Patients receiving emergency department care are being discharged more quickly than they were several years ago, but targets have still not been achieved, the report reads.

“It’s very important to identify what works and what could be better,” said VP of health system performance Dr. Irfan Dhalla.

“We all deserve a system that provides great care, and that allows each of us to flourish.”

Twitter: @kellyroche6

How Champlain stacks up:

-93.7% of people in the Champlain LHIN region have a primary care provider -Only 44.1% can see a primary care provider the same day or next day when they are sick -The median number of days to access a long-term care home is 59 from hospital, and 143 from home.

– 62% say they are in very good or excellent health (0.6% lower than the provincial average) -9.8% say they are in fair or poor health -Life expectancy at birth – 81.9 years – 6th highest of the 14 LHIN regions

Source: HQO

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