Two hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area are planning to merge their operations in a bid to create a community-based, teaching centre that would provide better care to patients at lower cost in a rapidly-growing region.
The proposed merger of Trillium Health Centre and Credit Valley Hospital was billed as a natural extension of a close partnership between the two entities that has evolved over the past three years.
The two hospitals treat a total of 967,000 patients a year at three locations in Mississauga and West Toronto. But the population is projected to grow 21 per cent over the next few years, placing unprecedented pressures on the health-care system.
"In order to make the best use of our collective human and financial resources, it is essential that we make the health system work more effectively for our communities," said Janet Davidson, chief executive officer of Trillium.
The proposed merger, announced on Thursday, is being billed as something that will improve patient care while achieving efficiencies and therefore cost savings.
However, Ms. Davidson and other hospital officials stressed during a conference call with reporters that front-line health care workers would not lose their jobs. Any reduction in staff would happen in the administrative area by having only one chief executive officer instead of two.
"One of the primary aims of the new organization will be to help patients and their families navigate through the health system more easily," said Dr. Gopal Bhatnagar, chief of staff at Trillium.
The merged entity would provide better care by developing close teamwork among doctors, nurses and other staff at the three hospitals, officials said.
Trillium and Credit Valley have just under 1,100 acute-care beds at two sites in Mississauga. Trillium's West Toronto location provides out-patient services.
The proposal needs the go-ahead of the local health authority as well as Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, who signalled to reporters on Thursday that she supports it.
"I think it's a pretty exciting opportunity," she said, "but I also think they are going to go through a public consultation, and I'm very much looking forward to what the public has to say about it."
The Local Health Integration Network has 60 days to review the deal, which the hospitals hope to complete by April 1, 2012.