OHT-N Experience Partner Council

The Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N) Experience Partner Council is a body of patients and caregivers working together with service provider partners to transform the delivery of local health and community care through the Ontario Health Team model. 

Launched in 2021, the Experience Partner Council ensures patients and caregivers have a clear and equal voice in advancing local priorities for health and community care services. Guided by a collaboratively developed vision and purpose, members are active within all OHT-N governance, planning and project team structures.

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Vision

An active regional patient, family and caregiver-led Council working through the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N) to provide direct or indirect involvement in decision-making and/or planning, design, governance or delivery of health and community care in Northumberland County.

Purpose

The OHT-N recognizes that patients, families, and caregivers, by virtue of their lived experience, have critical wisdom to share to advance service integration and system coordination. The purpose of the Experience Partner Council is therefore to:

  • Bring to life the Patient, Family and Caregiver Declaration of Values for Ontario in Northumberland.
  • Provide patient, family and caregiver perspectives and guidance to all OHT-N efforts to transform health and community care systems, with the goal of achieving progress along Quadruple Aim outcomes, including:
    • Improved patient and caregiver experience,
    • Improved patient population health outcomes,
    • Improved provider work-life experience, and
    • Improved value, reducing the per capita cost of health care.

Council members

Suzanne Lawson - Chair

Suzanne Lawson has been a Port Hoper in two stages - her elementary and high school years and then ten years as a younger adult, and now has lived in Cobourg since 2004. Toronto and suburbs were home in the in between years. 

Professionally, she held senior staff positions with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Ontario’s Arthritis Society and as National Executive Director for ALS Canada. She was also Executive Director of Program for the Anglican Church of Canada. 

As a professional volunteer administrator, she represented the voluntary health sector in two Institute Advisory Boards of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Institute of Genetics, Institute of Health Services and Policy Research). As one of the twelve members of the federal Voluntary Sector Roundtable and later, as one of the leaders in the Federal Government’s Voluntary Sector Initiative, Suzanne brought her skills in collaboration to these voluntary sector/government interfaces. 

For the last 18 years of her paid working life, Suzanne was a caregiver for her husband Art who lived with Parkinson’s. During the last half of those years, her husband lived in the Cobourg area and then in a local retirement residence while Suzanne kept working in Toronto to keep the family afloat. She learned to organize care at a distance and juggle various health professional appointments and recommendations with the help of a team of volunteers. She currently is supporting two friends for whom she is Power of Attorney for Health.

Throughout her career, Suzanne has been focused on collaborating with others (individuals and organizations) in shaping and improving health systems. The possibilities of helping to do this in the current healthcare challenges are endless. So is her commitment! She feels honoured to be part of the Experience Partner Council.

Andrew Choate

Andrew Choate grew up in Peterborough, Ontario and he retired in Garden Hill. 

He worked in large industry for many years specializing in project management, implementing IT projects and improving IT system work flow through business process improvement. 

Andrew has a rare form of incurable cancer. He receives treatment at the Durham Regional Cancer Center in Oshawa and locally from his Primary Care Physician in Port Hope. On occasion he has utilized the Northumberland Hills Hospital Emergency Department and diagnostic services. During his ongoing cancer treatment, he has experienced situations that were not optimal and felt that these situations could be improved through the adoption of a Patient Portal. A portal makes a patient’s electronic medical data available to the patient or caregiver. Andrew has advocated for a universal patient portal in excess of 10 years. 

To that end, Andrew has volunteered on many health organizations and participated in the initial planning and implementation of a Patient Portal, called MyChart (at the Central East LHIN). This was a big step forward for patients and caregivers; however, this portal does not capture all patient data occurring from visits to medical partitioners in Northumberland County where Andrew lives. 

He also understands that a portion of the population do not wish to be left behind because they have no access to or want to engage in the use of this technology. 

Andrew believes that the pragmatic use of technology can improve the delivery of health care to patients and looks forward to working with the Ontario Health Team – Northumberland in progressing person-centred health care.

Chloe Craig

Bio coming soon

Howard Goodfellow

Howard Goodfellow grew up on a family farm in the Brighton, Ontario area that is now operated as a dairy farm by his nephews.

He attended East Northumberland Secondary School, followed by the University of Toronto (U of T) where he studied engineering. Howard graduated with a Ph.D., from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, U of T, where he continues to hold the position of Adjunct Professor.

Howard’s career has spanned over 40 years in the engineering and technology fields, including owning his own specialized consulting firms, and being actively involved in Research & Development. He and his wife Karen moved back to Cobourg from Georgetown about ten years ago.

Howard’s experience in the health care field has largely been as a volunteer on Boards of Directors. He served two terms on the Board of Georgetown Hospital between 1992 and 1996, one as Chair of the Finance Committee. From 2012-2015, he sat on the Board of the Community Health Centres Northumberland (CHCN). He is currently a member of the Client and Family Roundtable (CFAR) at CHCN.

More recently, Howard has taken on the role of caregiver for his wife, who has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).

These experiences motivated Howard to join the OHT-N Experience Partner Council. His interests as a council member are two-fold.

First, Howard believes active partnerships with patients, caregivers and community engagement can lead to better health and community care outcomes, within the context of future financial challenges within the health care system.

Second, Howard has a specific interest in embracing a culture of innovation in the health care sector and the practical applications of leading-edge technology to improve delivery of health and community care in a cost-effective model. He believes that the OHT-N, with its established collaboration with health/community care providers, can take a leadership role in this area of innovation and share results to demonstrate to other communities what can be achieved.

Lisa van der Vinne 

Lisa van der Vinne grew up in Cobourg before moving to Toronto to attend university.  After earning her Master’s degree in Social Work, Lisa returned to Cobourg with her husband Mike to start a family together.  They have two children and spend much of their time at the local hockey arena.

Lisa has a passion for social policy and public health and has worked in various positions at the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit for the past 15 years. Lisa has a background in Quality Improvement and has earned her Green Belt in LEAN. She is committed to making health services work for the people that need them.

After recently being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing surgery at Northumberland Hills Hospital, Lisa wanted to use her experience to give back to the community that had supported her. In 2019, she applied and was selected to become a member of the Northumberland Hills Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). Building on this experience, in 2021, Lisa also became an inaugural member of the OHT-N Experience Partner Council.  

Lisa understands first-hand the difference that good quality local health care can make when facing a difficult diagnosis, and she brings this experience to her role as a member of the Experience Partner Council, supporting transformation of the health care system.  

What We Do 

First and foremost, the Experience Partner Council continually promotes the advancement of the provincial Patient, Family and Caregiver Declaration of Values, ensuring these values are embedded in all OHT-N planning and decision-making.

Guiding much of the Experience Partner Council's developing community engagement activities is the OHT-N Patient/Caregiver Partnership and Community Engagement Framework 

Working with the Collaboration Council, the key functions and responsibilities of the Experience Partner Council include:

  • Representing the patient, family, and caregiver voice to ensure that patients, families, and caregivers are at the centre of all that we do.
  • Sharing experiences for the purpose of promoting and enhancing patient-centred care.
  • Bring awareness to processes or structures that do not work well for patients, families, and caregivers.
  • Supporting the OHT-N’s efforts to collaboratively improve patient, family, caregiver and provider experience, value to the community, and health outcomes.

Terms of Reference

Read our full Terms of Reference for more information, including details about council composition, reporting structure, decision-making model, meeting frequency and more.

Become an Experience Partner

We are currently accepting applications for Experience Partner volunteers, welcoming all expressions of interest. With this open call for interest, the OHT-N’s Experience Partner Council aims to expand from a small core Experience Partner Council drawn from OHT-N members to a larger team offering different ways to join the conversation.

The original Experience Partner Council will grow in number. As well, new Experience Partner Project Pool, not quite as time intensive as the Experience Partner Council, and best suited to those interested and able to bring their lived experience to particular projects, will also be formed. Finally, a virtual Engage OHT-N experience partner community is planned, to enable smaller, faster issue-by-issue engagement on specific questions or issues before the OHT-N.

Patients, families, and caregivers of Northumberland County with an interest in volunteering as Experience Partners are invited to review the Terms of Reference and supporting recruitment documents. Please complete the Experience Partner Council Expression of Interest Form and return the application using one of the following methods:

  • By email
  • Fax: (905) 372-4243
  • Mail: Ontario Health Team of Northumberland C/O Kate Campbell, Northumberland County, 555 Courthouse Road, Cobourg, ON, K9A 5J6
  • Drop-off: Sealed envelopes only, please, accepted at Main Reception, Northumberland County building (555 Courthouse Road, Cobourg, ON, K9A 5J6) weekdays between 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, and marked for the attention of the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland, c/o Kate Campbell

Please note: Hard copies of the Experience Partner Council Expression of Interest Form are available at the following OHT-N member organization locations:

Community Care Northumberland (Brighton)

46 Prince Edward Street
Brighton, ON, K0K 1H0

Community Care Northumberland (Cobourg)
1158 Division Street
Cobourg, ON, K9A 5Y5

Community Care Northumberland (Campbellford)

174 Oliver Road Unit 15
Campbellford, ON, K0L 1L0

Community Health Centres of Northumberland (Port Hope)

99 Toronto Road, Suite 101
Port Hope, Ontario, L1A 3S4
OHT-N Rural Outreach Clinic (Colborne)
34 Victoria Street
Colborne, ON, K0K 1S0

Northumberland County (Cobourg)

555 Courthouse Road
Cobourg, ON, K9A 5J6
Northumberland Family Health Team HUB (Cobourg)
Lower Level Northumberland Mall
111 Elgin Street West
Cobourg, ON, K9A 5H7

Learn More

To learn more about the OHT-N, view our OHT-N Backgrounder or read the Frequently Asked Questions below:

Experience Partner Council Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N)?

In February 2019, the Ontario government introduced the Ontario Health Team (OHT) model of care. OHTs would be a new way of organizing and delivering care, with patients, caregivers and providers working together to plan and deliver health care and community services.

On December 6, 2019, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced the Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N) as one of the first 24 OHTs in the province. Drawing on a strong history of collaboration, OHT-N partners from across the county are now working together to improve patient and caregiver experience of health care and community services in Northumberland, as well as provider work-life experience, through the OHT model.

Why did the OHT-N form an Experience Partner Council?

The Ontario Health Team of Northumberland (OHT-N) recognizes the critical importance of partnerships with patients, families and caregivers in the planning, design, and governance of OHTs to ensure meaningful change to current systems.

The OHT-N is committed to meaningful community engagement, as well as partnership with patients and caregivers, to shape health care and community service delivery in Northumberland. This includes creation of the first county-wide Experience Partner Council. It also includes:

  • Adoption of a Patient, Family and Caregiver Partnership and Community Engagement Framework. This framework is based on international best practices as well as the Patient, Family and Caregiver Declaration of Values for Ontario. It sets out a commitment to ongoing community consultation to assess the local services/supports needed most, and to inform future year priorities.
  • Patient, family, and caregiver partner representation within all OHT-N governance, planning and project team structures.
  • The intent to establish, in the future, a local Ombudsperson role.
What is the role of an Experience Partner?

Experience Partners participate as partners on a range of OHT-N activities, from strategic planning and priority-setting to project-specific work, for the purpose of:

  • Representing the patient, family and caregiver voice to ensure that patients, families and caregivers are at the centre of all that we do;
  • Sharing experiences for the purpose of promoting and enhancing patient-centred care;
  • Bring awareness to processes or structures that do not work well for patients, families, and caregivers; and
  • Supporting the OHT-N’s efforts to collaboratively improve patient, family, caregiver and provider experience, value to the community, and health outcomes.
What opportunities exist for Experience Partners?
The OHT-N’s Experience Partner Council aims to expand from a small core Experience Partner Council drawn from OHT-N members to a larger team offering different ways to join the conversation. The original Experience Partner Council will grow in number. As well, new Experience Partner Project Pool, not quite as time intensive as the Experience Partner Council, and best suited to those interested and able to bring their lived experience to particular projects, will also be formed. Finally, a virtual Engage OHT-N experience partner community is planned, to enable smaller, faster issue-by-issue engagement on specific questions or issues before the OHT-N. The size of the OHT-N’s Experience Partner team will fluctuate and be dependent on local interest and OHT-N and Experience Partner priorities.
If I become an Experience Partner, what is the commitment required?
Like the opportunities for participation, commitment will vary. The Experience Partner Council currently meets virtually as a group for monthly meetings, lasting two hours each. In addition to the monthly meetings, most of which are held in the day time, members of the Experience Partner Council also participate – as their experience and interest directs – on OHT-N committees and/or projects. The monthly time commitment and method of engagement for the Experience Partner Project Pool and the Engage OHT-N experience partner community will vary. Activities will be matched with committee/project needs and member input.
How do I know if this is the right volunteer opportunity for me?

Here are some qualities or personality traits to consider. The ideal Experience Partner is:

  • Objective, open-minded and respectful when considering the perspectives of others, and able to think beyond their own personal experience;
  • Comfortable asking for clarification if needed, and sharing their opinions;
  • Able to work collaboratively with others; and
  • Has a desire to make a positive contribution towards improving local health and community care services.
Is there a minimum age limit for an Experience Partner?
At this time, the OHT-N is inviting expressions of interest from patients, families and caregivers who are over the age of 18 and possess the qualities identified in the previous question.
What kind of training and support with Experience Partners get?

Your perspective, and the willingness to share it respectfully, is the most important skill you bring as an Experience Partner.

Experience Partners will receive general orientation on the OHT-N and specific information/training on particular areas and operations as needed to support full and effective engagement. This includes any necessary training on virtual meeting technology.

What is the format of Experience Partner Council meetings?

Meetings currently take place virtually and are arranged using ‘Zoom’ virtual meeting technology. Training will be provided to Experience Partners as needed to support their participation in these virtual meetings.

On occasion, the Council may determine that an in-person meeting is appropriate. Where possible, arrangements will be made in such circumstances to make a virtual option available to those who are either unable or who choose not to attend in-person.

The Council will review periodically the meeting format to determine if virtual meetings remain the most appropriate format. Meetings for working groups within the (proposed) Experience Partner Project Pool will align with the requirements of the associated projects.

Engagement channels and frequency for the (proposed) Engage OHT-N Experience Partner Community will align with the requirements of the associated projects as well.