Organizations from across Muskoka and the surrounding area are teaming up to form an Ontario Health Team.

Dr. David Mathies, the chair of the Muskoka and Area Ontario Health Team Partners, made the announcement Tuesday morning at the Bracebridge Fire Hall. According to Mathies, the team submitted a readiness assessment on May 14 which was the first step.

He said the goal is to create the best healthcare network they can for the area and not necessarily focus on saving money.

“By being more efficient we can shift some of our resources to the frontline,” Mathies said. “Not sure you would call that cost savings but it would be more cost-effective. When you hire quality workers, patients experience better care. When things are efficient I as a provider have a better time going to work.”

The doctor said there shouldn’t be any net jobs lost in the transition to creating the health team. According to Mathies, any office jobs cut would be replaced by frontline workers.

Mathies added there will be an Ontario Health Team in the area, even if it isn’t them, as he was told it is the “wave of the future.” He hopes the Muskoka group will be the first in the province though. He expected to find out if they are approved by the end of the summer.

The next step is for the provincial government to visit and check out the facilities.

“We have done our self-assessment but there will be a secondary confirming assessment,” Mathies said. “We anticipate that happening next month. Then we hope to be asked to make a full application and then there’s the last step of implementing it.”

The doctor doesn’t anticipate the Muskoka area would get lumped in with another health team. If anything he expected other areas to get lumped into this unit. He added the government said those that aren’t ready to apply will be matched with the right teams.

Mathies said there is a need to improve the health care system in Canada because the country ranks top 10 in the world for spending yet is 30th for service in the sector. Access, navigation and coordination were the main themes noticed that could be improved.

Gary Froud knows first-hand how important health services are in the community. In 2013 an unknown virus left him paralyzed. He took an opportunity to speak at the press conference about the importance of Muskoka creating the health team.

“I learned you can’t be a patient in this system alone, it’s just far too complexed,” Froud said. “I’ve heard it takes a village to raise a child, well, it’s going to take a community to built this system for success.”

There are 11 organizations currently partnering to make up the Ontario Health Team from primary care, acute care and home and community care.  Mathies said they have received letters of approval from other facilities who are considering joining the partnership.