Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Project

Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health

Business Case Proposal Project

I’ve received the following email and attachments (copied below) which we are being asked to share:

Dear Friends of the ES/MCS Community:

 We have some very important and exciting news to share with you regarding the creation of a number of key health and social supports within the health care system for people who suffer from environmental sensitivities and multiple chemical sensitivities (ES/MCS).

 We are attaching the following:

1.     Letter which is self-explanatory with the latest news

2.     Questions and Answers Background Briefing document which describes Steering Committee of the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Business Case Proposal project.

Please read this very important information.

Best wishes,

Denise Magi, V-P MEAO

AU 2011

What follows is copied from the PDFs for those who do not have easy access to downloading
(The PDF is also available for those who prefer to download files)

Dear Friends of the ES/MCS Community:
RE: Can you help us get the word out?

As you know, five years ago this fall, ES/MCS patient advocates associated with EHAO began a project to bring about the creation of a number of key health and social supports within the health care system. A great deal has happened since that moment.

As you may also be aware, in the last 14-months with funding from both the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and the Ontario Trillium Foundation we have been conducting a multi-component business case proposal project that is on the verge of completion. It will be submitted to the MOHLTC at the end of September. It’s been a long time in the making but we are nearing the end of this phase, which if successful, will bring about the first stage of funding in 2014.

As important friends of the ES/MCS community, we hope that you will all be glad to read in some detail about the content of the proposal in the attached article. We believe that should this proposal win funding, we will be in a position to establish the best system of care anywhere for people with ES/MCS, along with those with ME/CFS and FM. We would hope that such success would also pave the way for breakthroughs in other jurisdictions too.

We would like to reach as many people in the community to give them a progress report on this most significant project. Precisely because of the lack of services the project is seeking to remedy, we do not have the institutional networks available to use for this purpose that other groups do. We must rely on more informal networks, and especially those of patient organizations and of key people in the community.

We are writing to ask for your assistance in distributing the attached ‘Questions and Answers’ Background Briefing document to as many people as you know who could be affected by the project and/or are interested in these developments. The article is in electronic format and can be easily forwarded by email. We would be equally glad to forward it by email or snail mail ourselves to anyone whose co-ordinates you send us.

Sometime in the Autumn, we hope to be able to ask the community to express its support for the project to elected representatives. People need accurate, detailed information about the project before they can help to support it.

We are sure that the EHAO membership would want to know about the project, and hope that an email distribution to it, and possibly an informational article in Eco-sense would be possible. By the same token people who hve been involved in Safe Housing might be very happy to receive this news. Any physicians or other health professionals who work with the community can be informed as well.

We also hope this will be inspiring to people in Quebec, who are hard at work and making progress on a number of other important fronts.

So we can keep track of our communications, would you be good enough to drop us a quick line and let us know if you’ve been able to send distribute this, and if you have names and email or regular addresses for people you think would like to receive more news directly, or other suggestions for people or organizations you would like us to contact? Please forward replies to info @ meao.ca to the attention of Denise Magi.

Thank you very much for your time and assistance.

Adrianna Tetley, ED AOHC, co-chair,
Steering Committee of the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Business Case Proposal project
Dr. Lynn Marshall, staff physician EHC, and member, Medical Advisory Committee of the Steering Committee of the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Business Case Proposal project
Denise Magi, The Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario (MEAO)
And member of the Steering Committee of the Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Business Case Proposal project
Varda Burstyn, Paradigm Consultants, Lead Consultant MEAO/OTF project; Consultant/Writer OCEEH model development and final report


The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Environmental Health (OCEEH) Business Case (BC)

About the OCEEH BC Project

1) What are the vision, mandate and goals of the OCEEH?

The vision of the OCEEH BC is to create a leading edge, people-centred health care delivery system for the over 550,000 people living in Ontario with chronic, complex environmentally-linked conditions. The OCEEH will first focus on (but not be limited to) Environmental Sensitivities/Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (ES/MCS), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FM). This Centre of Excellence will be composed of a hub that will include, and expand on, the Environmental Health Clinic (EHC), and spokes delivering primary care that could begin with a patient-population based selection of Community Health Centres (CHCs). As stated in the funding agreement for the OCEEH business case’s development with, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the OCEEH “will be an independent, self-governed hub, affiliated with the University of Toronto and other academic health centres, and will provide teaching, research, health promotion, and policy analysis as well as both primary and secondary clinical services. It will operate as a referral resource for primary care providers, and support the spokes in the delivery of best and promising practices – including those for continuum of care support services — based on evidence from research and leading clinics, and the findings of patient-centred needs assessments.”

The goal of the OCEEH business case is to secure pre-operational funding for the Centre of Excellence.

2) What is the history of the OCEEH BC project?

The current project dates back to initiatives begun with the Minister and Ministry of Health and Long Term Care five years ago. The originators of that effort were two then-board members of the Environmental Health Association of Ontario (2008), joined by Ted Ball as pro bono consultant (2009). Late that year, they sought the support of physicians from the EHC.

Between 2009 and June 2011, the patient advocates, with physician support, met with numerous government officials to present arguments and briefings, resolve policy issues and demonstrate support from broader sectors. They met with Ontario’s top medical-scientific advisor, collected letters of support from academics and scientific experts and released a major research paper, authored by EHC physicians, which made the case for improved services for our patient population.

These efforts resulted in a 6-part proposal for services for people with ES/MCS, ME/CFS and FM. Successive drafts of this were submitted to the Minister and senior officials in the winter and spring 2011. MEAO came on board at that time in actively supporting these proposals and winning key allies.

Important elements of that original proposal were informed by many sources including EHAO policy recommendations, operating clinics in other jurisdictions and two ‘centre of excellence’ proposals, including the 2008 Ontario College of Family Physicians ‘vision document’ and a 2009 proposal prepared by Dr. Alison Bested’s patients PDF: (2009 ME FM MCS Treatment Centre Vision and Requirements Version 1.0).

By June 2011, an Assistant Deputy Minister had been assigned the file. In July, she asked for a business case proposal) for a Centre of Excellence with a hub and spoke model. In November 2011, the partnership between the patient advocate-physician collaborative and the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) was initiated.

This partnership set in place the possibility of a delivery system that included a central hub, but also ‘spokes’ in other regional centres. It also provided the MOHLTC with a major institutional partner for the project, a critical step in getting it funded and launched.

A formal funding proposal to develop the BC was submitted to the MOHLTC in April 2012.

In parallel developments, in 2009 MEAO began work on a major grant proposal to the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Submitted in 2011, it was for a study whose objectives were embodied in its title: ‘Improving the Quality of Care and Support for People Living with ME/CFS, ES/MCS and FM’. MEAO was awarded the grant in late 2011.

With overlapping goals and components to the OCEEH BC proposal, the MEAO/OTF project was launched in Spring 2012, with the intention to merge the two projects should Ministry funding arrive in time.

Ministry funding for the OCEEH business case proposal was received in October 2012 and delivered to AOHC to administer. The two projects were then merged, and a full steering committee was constituted to lead the project.

3) Who is participating in the development of the OCEEH BC?

The project has a Steering Committee (SC) that oversees the OCEEH BC, guided by the OCEEH BC vision statement. Its purpose is to provide strategic guidance to the project team to ensure the business case meets the requirements of the funder (the MOHLTC) and serves the needs and objectives of the patient/client community and caregivers.

The SC consists of 8 members with a majority of patient/client representatives. The SC includes representation from MEAO, AOHC and two physician representatives from the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), who are also on staff at the EHC. It also includes a long-time patient advocate with ES/MCS.

The MAC has guided the development of the clinical, research, education and health promotion report by an EHC physician. Members include all the other physicians from the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital and a CHC physician in the role of advisor and Chair. In addition, two physicians from Ottawa and Vancouver are advisors.

The OCEEH BC project also has a series of consultants and a project management team. In addition, the project has academic, policy, medical and patient support organization experts providing advice on different aspects of the OCEEH BC. The project team has selected a wide range of advisors to ensure the best possible report is prepared.
Please see Appendix A for a complete listing of team members.

4) What are the stages of the OCEEH BC? What are immediate next steps and timelines?

As part of the OTF study, MEAO recently completed and submitted qualitative data and community consultation reports that identified the prevalence of people living with the three conditions, examined the impacts of the conditions, established the nature of current state gaps and barriers to care and recommended a set of health and social support needs, a model of care, and policy shifts needed to support these changes.

The findings from that study validated hypotheses about needed services and developed these further, informing the whole design of the ‘hub and spoke’ model for the OCEEH. The results of this study will be incorporated as appendices to the final OCEEH BC.

In addition, the MAC is preparing a major clinical report to be attached as an appendix to the OCEEH BC. It will provide detailed, fully referenced medical, scientific and treatment knowledge to assist decision makers in the coming months; and to provide education for caregivers in the future.

The OCEEH BC itself will be short and succinct. It will describe the model, key functions, services, costing, phasing, cost/benefit analysis and high-level implementation considerations needed by the Ministry. It will be used as a decision-making tool by MOHLTC staff in order to help them allocate pre-operational funding for the OCEEH. It will be an internal document for the MOHLTC.

In September, attention will focus on finalizing the draft BC. The project deadline is September 30. It is currently hoped that much of the documentation prepared to support the BC and complete the OTF project will be released to the public if possible. During September mechanisms for this will also be developed.

It is hoped that the MOHLTC will have an answer to the SC before the next budget (March, 2014), but the timing for this will be in government’s hands alone.

5) What are some of the key principles being used to develop the OCEEH BC?

The OCEEH BC is built on a set of principles that the members of the SC agreed upon. They include:

  •  The business case will serve the needs of individuals with complex chronic environmentally-linked conditions, with a focus on ME-CFS, FM and ES-MCS.
  •  The scope is Ontario wide.
  •  The business case includes all age categories, and addresses needs for prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment and many types of support.
  •  OCEEH and its providers will consider and incorporate the social determinants of health in providing services.
  •  OCEEH and its providers will incorporate a person- and patient-centred approach in providing services.
  •  This includes concepts of patient empowerment and self-management where clients are active participants in their care.
  •  A shared decision making model is employed between the clients and their provider team.
  •  An individualized care plan is an outcome of this model.
  •  Clients and advocates are involved in planning services and in governance.
  •  OCEEH and its providers will incorporate an interprofessional team working in collaboration to provide health and social services.
  •  OCEEH will have an academic affiliation with a university that has a medical school and an affiliation with a teaching hospital

6) What are the main functions the BC will propose for the OCEEH?

The needs of the individuals and communities that OCEEH will serve include the following functions:

  •  Health and social services, including assessment/diagnosis; treatment; patient and family education; health promotion; prevention; system navigation; and an OCEEH Lodge
  •  Research, including underlying mechanisms, clinical and epidemiological research, and evaluation
  •  Education, including both community outreach and public education; and professional training and curriculum development
  •  Policy development, including knowledge translation and engagement with key stakeholders and partners to improve policy and program parameters affecting the three groups.

Through system navigation and advocacy, as well as on-site services in the hub and spokes, other key services to support social determinants will be worked toward – i.e. homecare, transportation, support to families, legal assistance and advocacy, liaison with hospitals, etc.

About the Hub and Spoke Model

7) What is the hub and spoke model? What are the functions of the hub and the spokes? Will there be services close to my home?

The hub will be a care centre for the most complex cases and a provincial resource. In addition to providing specialist care for the most complex patients referred to the hub, it will lead research and evaluation, education and policy development. It will serve as a key repository of expertise for the health care system as a whole.

Providing trained care and health services as close to home as possible is a major goal. The spokes, in selected regions across Ontario, will provide primary and secondary care on-site and will also link clients/patients with other needed health and social supports in their areas.

The spokes and the hub will collaborate on research, education and policy development functions. The spokes will further serve as a major resource to primary care providers in their region.

In February 2013, the project made a presentation to the Executive Directors of the AOHC member centres about the needs, and so far, six Community Health Centres have identified an interest in being a spoke.

8) Will OCEEH services be provided in sites that are safe for those with ES/MCS?

The SC understands that scent- and toxic-free spaces with exceptional air quality are necessary for any facility working with people who suffer with ES/MCS. An architect already familiar with the challenges is working on initial proposals and costing to ensure these are available at both the hub and spokes.

9) Where will the hub be?

This has not been confirmed. It is likely to be in Toronto due to promising developments with a medical school as well as nearby teaching hospitals. In addition, there is initial support from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. However, it is too early in the process to finalize this decision.

10) Where will the spokes be?

This has not been confirmed. A number of Community Health Centres from a variety of regions across Ontario have expressed interest in being spokes – a very positive and encouraging development. Again, it is too early to finalize these decisions.

11) Will the hub and spokes have specialists for all three conditions? How will referral take place?

The spokes will offer services by providers who have received education and training in all three conditions appropriate to primary and secondary care. The hub will offer services by highly specialized (tertiary care) providers, who can also guide care in the spokes and from other close-to-home primary care providers (e.g. family doctors and nurse practitioners.)

It is proposed that clients/patients will be able to self-refer to spoke facilities. Physician or nurse practitioner referrals will be needed for hub services. All physicians and NPs will be able to refer both to the spokes and to the hub directly, if they so wish. Spoke providers will also be able to refer more complex or difficult cases to the hub. The hub physicians will develop care plans that can be supported by spoke providers as well. Individual care plans will be developed, and referrals organized as needed in each case.

12) Will the Centre of Excellence be affiliated with a teaching hospital?

The OCEEH hub will be affiliated with a teaching hospital. The specific hospital is yet to be determined. As well, it is also proposed that the spokes will develop affiliations at the regional level with regional universities and colleges. It is hoped that all parts of the system will be teaching sites as well as service sites.

13) What are fellowships? Will fellowships be established?

The SC is concerned about the medical personnel required to meet the needs of the patient population with ME/CFS, FM and ES/MCS over the next five, ten and twenty years. The physicians at the existing Environmental Health Clinic at WCH will at some point begin to retire. We will need additional medical personnel to meet the needs of the growing patient population. Fellowships will enable us to expand the number of physicians.

In Canada, training for family physicians is a two-year residency program after graduation from medical school. If they are successful in the certification exams at the end, they write MD CCFP after their names. Some family physicians wish to do further specialty training, for example in emergency, obstetrics, sports medicine,
gerontology, palliative care. These require extra “fellowship” training beyond the two-year residency. These specialty programs must be approved by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Once completed, the physician receives acknowledgment of special training in that specific area.

In the past, the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital has hosted a one-year fellowship program in Environmental Health and graduated four fellows. This has been in affiliation with the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) of the University of Toronto. However, the funding for the fellowships no longer exists. The curriculum has been updated and it has been submitted to the DFCM for their consideration.

In order to enroll new residents in the program in July 2014 (the start of the next academic cycle), the revised curriculum must be approved, funding must be secured, and advertising of the positions must be started by late 2013. It is hoped that funding for two positions can be secured for next year in order to start staffing the positions at the OCEEH.

14) What other types of education will be provided?

A key function of the OCEEH is to develop curriculum for adoption in medical, nursing and other health professional schools so that understanding, diagnosis and treatment of the three conditions is properly integrated into the education of all care providers. This will take some time, but it is understood as critical to long-term success.

15) Will there be OHIP billing codes for these three conditions?

The MAC has been working with a physician from the MOHLTC to expand the OHIP service code (K037) that will include and name all three conditions. It now awaits approval by the Ontario Medical Association.

Community Engagement

16) How can I get involved?

When the BCP proposal is submitted to the MOHLTC, the patient representatives will ask the community to show their support for it. Helping government to understand how important such a system of care is will be the first way to get involved. You can support the project by participating in the Lobby Campaign for the OCEEH’s Funding over November – December, when we plan to speak with members of the government — as well as the two Health Critics from the opposition parties.

Should the BCP be successful in obtaining pre-operational funding, there will be much more work to do to actually flesh out the details of the OCEEH. Identifying the structures and mechanisms for this participation is still underway, and will likely take further shape in the ‘pre-operational’ phase, during which there will be more time to do this properly. Community outreach is a priority of the OCEEH, as will be community feedback.

Appendix A

Steering Committee

Ted Ball, Co-Chair, MEAO representative
Adrianna Tetley, Co-Chair, Project Executive, AOHC Executive Director
Arvinder Bindra, MEAO representative Dr. Riina Bray, MAC Liaison, Environmental Health Clinic Medical Director Keith Deviney, MEAO President
Eleanor Johnston, Patient representative
Denise Magi, MEAO Vice-President
Dr. Lynn Marshall, MAC Liaison, Environmental Health Clinic Staff Physician and Education Liaison

Medical Advisory Committee

Dr. Dona Bowers, CHC Physician, Physician Co-Project Manager, MAC Chair
Dr. Riina Bray, MAC Liaison to the Steering Committee, Medical Director, EHC
Dr. Kathleen Kerr, Staff Physician and Research Liaison, EHC
Dr. John Molot, Staff Physician and Medico-Legal Liaison, EHC
Dr. Lynn Marshall, MAC Liaison to the Steering Committee, Staff Physician and Education Liaison, EHC

Project Advisors (Confirmed)

Dr. Howard Hu, Director of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Mary Catherine Lindberg, Former Assistant Deputy Minister, MOHLTC and Executive Director, Ontario Council of Academic Hospitals
Bill Manson, Senior Director of Performance Management, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network
Margaret Parlor, President, National ME/FM Action Network
Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, Medical Director, Ottawa Environmental Health Centre
Dr. Alison Bested, Medical Director, Complex Chronic Disease Clinic, British Columbia

Project Consultants

Varda Burstyn, Paradigm Consultants, Lead Consultant MEAO/OTF project; Consultant/Writer OCEEH model development and final report
Ian Brunskill & Karen Singh, MNP, Healthy Policy Analysts
Signy Franklin, MNP, Business Analyst
Susan Mowbray, MNP, Economic Analyst
Dr. John Molot, Physician preparing clinical report
David Fujiwara, Architect
Erika Halapy, Epidemiologist
Arron Service, CHC Decision Support Specialist

Project Management Team

Leah Stephenson, AOHC Co-Project Manager
Dr. Dona Bowers, Physician Co-Project Manager
Erika Halapy, Project Coordinator
Wendy Banh, AOHC Administrative Assistant

The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Environmental Health OCEEH Business Case

5 responses to “Ontario Centre of Excellence in Environmental Health Project

  1. Finally.Long time coming. I have to wait outside of my doctors office it is so strong of chemicals.

    • Yes! And please read the info at the petition to learn more about what some of the issues are, how many of us are not having our health care needs met

  2. New report, released December 5 from Queen’s Park, Ontario

    Recognition Inclusion and Equity -­‐ the Time is Now:
    Perspectives of Ontarians Living With ES/MCS, ME/CFS and FM.
    (Toronto: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of Ontario MEAO)

    Recognition, Inclusion and Equity – The Time Is Now

    Full Version (7 MB) |

    Click to access Recognition_Inclusion_Equity-full.pdf

    Highlighted Version (4 MB)

    Click to access Recognition_Inclusion_Equity-shorten.pdf

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