Critical Care Strategy

A Note from the Provincial Lead, Critical Care and Trauma

As the Final Report of the Ontario Critical Care Steering Committee notes, "Critical care is a pivotal service that has the potential "to make or break" other hospital services".

Patients in need of critical care have a serious, life-threatening disease or injury and are often reliant on life support interventions, sophisticated technologies, drugs and the care of highly trained and specialized staff to provide intensive one-on-one care, around the clock.

Critical care patients come to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) from operating rooms, the emergency department and in-patient hospital wards and their condition dictates that they cannot wait for care.

While Ontario's critical care services are amongst the best in the world, we are facing real challenges. Critical care services are under tremendous pressure in many hospitals and, with our growing and aging population, demand for this limited resource will increase steadily over the next two decades.

The Critical Care Strategy

The Critical Care Strategy positions Ontario, in many ways, as a global leader in the design of critical care planning and delivery.

The success thus far of the strategy clearly demonstrates what can be accomplished through the combination of provincial leadership, intra-professional teamwork, collegiality and commitment. The work of all involved, from policy and planning to frontline providers shows that a more accessible and responsive health care system can be developed successfully, safely and quickly.

Progress to Date

The progress made to date is, without question, directly attributable to the commitment of critical care frontline providers. Their insight and enthusiasm to improve how we deliver critical care in the province continues to provide the momentum we need to keep moving forward. In the past few years:

  • 27 Adult Critical Care Response Teams (CCRTs) and 4 Paediatric CCRTs have been established across the province.
  • A Critical Care Information System (CCIS) has been developed and rolled out province-wide. The CCIS has been implemented in 201 adult and paediatric Level 3 and Level 2 critical care units.
  • An additional $4.5 million in funding has been provided to Ontario hospitals to increase the training and number of critical care nurses.
  • The ministry has established LHIN-based Critical Care physician leaders to facilitate improvements in quality and access to critical care service in their LHINs.
  • A surge management program has been deployed to address minor, moderate and major surges in the demand for critical care at the local LHIN and provincial levels.

Transforming critical care service delivery is integral to keeping Ontarians healthy, ensuring that patients have access to the best care when and where they need it, reducing wait times, and providing an environment within which all healthcare practitioners can grow both professionally and personally.

The implementation of the Critical Care Strategy marks the beginning of a remarkable transformation in critical care planning and delivery. The impact of the Strategy and the commitment of everyone involved can already be witnessed each and every day in hospitals across Ontario and in the improved patient experiences and outcomes that are occurring as a result.

Ultimately, our shared goal must be to meet the needs of critically ill patients wherever they are in the healthcare system, including both pre-ICU and post-ICU care settings. As we proceed with the strategy implementation, we will continue to look to the field for feedback and direction.

Thank you for visiting!

Dr. Bernard Lawless
Provincial Lead, Critical Care and Trauma

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