Health team and minister unveil new mobile medical unit and mental health team

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A new mobile health unit unveiled on Monday will tour Windsor and Essex County to provide primary, non-emergency health care to those who need it most.

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The unit, unveiled by Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones, hit the road just hours after its official opening on Monday afternoon.

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The unit, part of the Windsor Essex Ontario Health Team, will provide basic medical services with nurses and nurse practitioners, but will also be able to allow any of the other 45 health team partners to provide onboard services – from addictions to mental health to dental to social work.

“This innovative model of community-based health care puts the patient first in delivering services to them and reduces systemic pressures by diverting emergency calls before they happen,” Jones said.

The unit will be located for approximately one week at a time in high priority neighborhoods identified by Essex Windsor EMS data.

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“We have learned during the pandemic how important it is to be agile and mobile in the delivery of health care and how we can provide services to residents of Windsor Essex by working together,” said Bruce Krauter, chief executive. ‘Essex Windsor EMS.

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones unveiled two new health programs in Essex County on Monday, September 26, 2022: the Mobile Medical Unit and the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART).
Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones unveiled two new health programs in Essex County on Monday, September 26, 2022: the Mobile Medical Unit and the Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MHART). Photo by Kathleen Saylors /Windsor Star

While in the area, Jones met with members of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Response Team (MHART), also officially unveiled on Monday. The team is a partnership between Essex-Windsor EMS and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, with a social worker and paramedic responding to 911 calls in an EMS vehicle to address low to moderate severity mental health crises in real time in the community.

“The importance and impact of collaborative teams such as MHART cannot be underestimated,” said Bill Marra, CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. “They are another step forward in improving access, breaking down silos and defining mental health and addictions care in our community.

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“MHART not only facilitates referrals to other community organizations, but also through our own systems to relieve some of these pressures and provide appropriate care in our community.

The Mobile Medical Unit, owned by Essex County, was purchased with approximately $400,000 of the $1.2 million received in Windsor and Essex County through the province’s Community Priority Fund. The unit launched in clinical spaces this spring before the bus was ready to hit the road.

Nearly 30 percent of patients who were treated under the program’s soft launch said they could have sought emergency care for their non-urgent problems because they did not have access to a provider. primary care, while 11 percent were able to connect with a care provider following their visit. Teams do outreach in the community before the unit arrives, and a medical unit location calendar is also available online.

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“The Mobile Medical Unit will improve access to non-emergency care in high priority communities and marginalized populations,” said Kristin Kennedy, CEO of Erie Shores HealthCare and Co-Chair of the Windsor Essex Ontario Health Team. “People who otherwise fall through the cracks, with untreated disease or symptoms, could become emergent.”

Neelu Sehgal, Community Outreach Manager for the Windsor Essex Ontario Health Team, gives a tour of the team's new mobile medical unit.  The mobile unit was unveiled on Monday September 26, 2022 and will be stationed in high priority communities to provide non-emergency health care to those in need.
Neelu Sehgal, Community Outreach Manager for the Windsor Essex Ontario Health Team, walks around the team’s new mobile medical unit. The mobile unit was unveiled on Monday September 26, 2022 and will be stationed in high priority communities to provide non-emergency health care to those in need. Photo by Kathleen Saylors

Neelu Sehgal, Community Outreach Manager for Windsor Essex OHT, said the unit will be staffed with five to seven people at all times, a mix of nursing staff and local health team partners. The reception has been excellent so far, she said, and patients have been surprised by the range of services they can offer. There have already been recurring patients, which is also a good sign: Sehgal said they aim to build trust in the community so that services are used well.

Mobile Health Bus locations are available online at weoht.ca.

[email protected]

twitter.com/KathleenSaylors

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