Integrating health care, education, and research is a complex business involving the support and cooperation of many organizations and agencies. To be effective in what we do, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute plays a key role in many networks at local, national, and international levels.
Partnerships and networks enrich the fabric of knowledge and the effectiveness of all participants, leading to better care for patients. The following is a summary of our partner organizations and networks, grouped as follows:
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society is the national voice for more than 1,500 cardiovascular physicians and scientists. The Institute’s physicians occupy leadership positions (serving for example on the Board of Directors), contribute to its guidelines for cardiovascular care to which all physicians in Canada abide, and attend the Society’s conferences as part of their professional development activities.
The Cardiac Care Network of Ontario is an advisory group to the Ministry of Health that works with hospitals to set provincial targets for cardiac care, and monitors quality and wait times for cardiac patients in the province. Any facility providing cardiac care must belong to the CCN; the Heart Institute is one of 17 participating sites. Institute staff sit on the Board, chair working committees, and are linked to the CCN through its regional coordinators.
The Champlain Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Network (CCPN) is an alliance of 15 health partners providing leadership to the Champlain CVD Prevention Strategy (CCPS), a five-year strategy to prevent heart disease and stroke in the Champlain District. The Heart Institute is one of the CCPN’s founding partners and houses its Project Management Office. Many of the Institute’s clinicians occupy leadership roles within the CCPN. The CCPS involves six large-scale initiatives, among which is the Ottawa Model for smoking cessation developed by the Institute. The Ottawa Model is expected to result in an additional 8,500 smokers in the region who successfully quit between 2006 and 2011.
The Local Health Integration Network ensures that health services in Ottawa and parts of Eastern Ontario are well organized, adequately funded, and meet the needs of residents. As the sole provider of invasive cardiac procedures in the Champlain LHIN, the Heart Institute develops programs and shares them with other hospitals in the network to ensure continuity of care. Among these programs are Guidelines Applied in Practice, a series of best practices for standardized care of patients with acute coronary syndrome, and the cardiac telecare program, which provides home-monitoring units that transmit a patient’s vital signs daily to the Institute. In a close relationship, the Institute advises the LHIN on the region’s requirements on a range of cardiac issues.
The Heart Institute and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario enjoy a collaborative relationship to support services in cardiac surgery, interventional cardiology, and electrophysiology, giving patients seamless access to the best expertise available in the region. The Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic offers continuity of care to patients who graduate at age 18 from pediatric cardiac care at CHEO.
Community Care Access Centre (CCAC)
The local Champlain Care Access Centre helps people get the health care, personal support, and social services they need to recuperate from a hospital stay. The Heart Institute works with CCAC staff, patients, their families, care providers, and other health facilities to assess patients’ needs and make sure they have access to the right post-discharge care.
Regional Hospital Health Care Partners
As a member of the Champlain LHIN, the Heart Institute collaborates with other hospitals in the network to support cardiac patients and provide tertiary services and procedures. The Institute transfers these patients back to their own health care providers once they are discharged. Hospitals in the network include:
- Almonte General Hospital
- Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital
- Bruyère Continuing Care (two hospitals)
- Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital
- Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
- Cornwall Community Hospital
- Deep River and District Hospital
- Glengarry Memorial Hospital
- Hôpital Général de Hawkesbury & District General Hospital Inc.
- Kemptville District Hospital
- Hôpital Montfort
- The Ottawa Hospital (three campuses)
- Pembroke Regional Hospital
- Queensway Carleton Hospital
- Renfrew Victoria Hospital
- St. Francis Memorial Hospital
- Winchester District Memorial Hospital
As well, the Heart Institute has developed other specific relationships, one of which is as the centre for cardiac services for Nunavut in Canada’s North. Under this agreement, any Nunavummiuq needing a sophisticated cardiac procedure is brought here. Also, Institute physicians travel regularly to Nunavut to assess and manage patients on site.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care establishes the overall strategic direction and the priorities for the provincial health care system. The Heart Institute enjoys a very positive relationship with the Ministry, collaborating to provide a full range of cardiac care, from prevention to rehabilitation, working on innovative programs and taking direction on patient volume and targets.
The goal of the Ministry of Health Promotion is to develop a culture of health and well-being in Ontario and contribute to the sustainability of the publicly funded health care system. The Heart Institute enjoys a strong working relationship with the Ministry. The Ministry funds the Institute’s Minto Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre to help more than 30 other hospitals in Ontario implement the Ottawa Model for smoking cessation. The Ottawa Model, developed at the Institute, is a systematic approach to the identification, treatment, and follow-up of hospitalized smokers.
The Ontario Telemedicine Network is one of the largest such networks in the world. OTN helps deliver clinical care and professional education among health care providers and patients. The main goal of the Heart Institute’s Cardiac Telehealth Program is to improve access to specialized cardiac care for patients locally, provincially, and nationally. The Institute is among the front-runners in distance cardiac care. OTN provides the technical backbone for these services.
The Heart Institute’s STEMI protocol is a collaboration among health care leaders, paramedics, and all hospitals within the Champlain LHIN. The protocol mobilizes a large team, available 24/7, to reroute heart attack patients directly to the Institute, reducing emergency room congestion and wait times. Using the STEMI protocol, the Institute’s in-hospital deaths from heart attack dropped to below 5%, compared with a rate of 10% for patients treated using conventional approaches elsewhere.
As Ontario’s central organ and tissue donation agency, the Trillium Gift of Life Network is a key source of donor hearts to the Institute. The Network maintains waiting lists and allocates organs according to a fair, impartial, and arm’s-length system.
Algonquin serves 16,000 full-time students in 140 programs, among which is the baccalaureate program in nursing that it runs jointly with the University of Ottawa. Many Heart Institute staff have graduated from Algonquin’s technical programs, and some nursing and technical staff are clinical educators at the college. This relationship creates a loop of education and qualified individuals that keeps Institute staff abreast of the latest developments in technology and education.
The Canadian Foundation for Innovation is the only national organization that provides funding for research infrastructure. The Heart Institute’s National Cardiac PET Centre and Ruddy Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics Centre both benefit from large grants from the CFI. PET gives Institute professionals a better “read” of a patient’s heart before they begin treatment, while the genetics centre allows researchers to continue their quest to personalize treatment based on a patient’s genes.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is the federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada. Regular funding to the Heart Institute and its partners has led to important discoveries. In 2008, Institute researchers announced that they had identified genes that increase the risk for heart disease. The result of this research will help identify individuals who are genetically at risk for coronary artery disease, Canada’s number one killer, and help develop personalized plans to treat the disease.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s mission is to reduce the risk for premature death and disability from heart disease and stroke by raising funds for research and health promotion. In 2008, it awarded more than $2 million to various projects at the Heart Institute. Among those completed, one study revealed that nearly 1.5 million Ontarians are living with hypertension and that in 0.5 million of them it is uncontrolled. Surveys such as these allow Institute researchers to adapt treatments and prevention strategies to everyday realities.
The Ottawa Health Research Institute is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and a major part of the University of Ottawa’s faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. In 2008, it was awarded $32 million to lead a collaborative program with The Ottawa Hospital, CHEO, the Heart Institute, and the University of Ottawa. The funding will support new facilities to investigate the molecular basis of health and disease, manufacture new therapies, and conduct early stage clinical trials in patients. Institute scientists will be able to test new therapies, including engineered stem cells to repair the heart and regenerate blood vessels.
The Heart Institute participates in a variety of international collaborative efforts. These include standards setting bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s MicroArray Quality Control Project, and consortia of leading research institutions that pool data for large-scale genomics studies. The Heart Institute also frequently partners with specific organizations and institutions in other countries on specific research studies, the development of new treatments and techniques, and multi-centre clinical trials.