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CCA addresses celiac disease patient challenges to Ontario medical round table

July 2019

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) recently sought recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders from patients, other health care professions, and patient groups like the CCA. They are developing recommendations to table with the Ontario Government to help drive key themes to transform the healthcare system which is broken and strained under the weight of the pandemic. Their theme- It’s time to Recover, Rebuild and Rebuild Smarter.

The OMA recommendations will be guided by four principles:

· Better patient and population outcomes

· Better patient and family and caregiver experience

· Better provider experience

· Better value

Here are just a few of the key points CCA was able to share as part of our participation.

Mental health and addiction care

· CCA indicated that a prolonged journey to diagnosis creates anxiety and mental health challenges and face social isolation even prior to COVID-19. Individuals are at increased risk of depression and anxiety. Access to affordable mental health resources, when needed, is key.

Backlog and wait times

· CCA advocated for OHIP-covered blood testing of IgA TTG blood test to improve diagnosis rates and reduce suffering.

· Wait times for biopsies are unacceptable. Prolonged diagnosis causes more patient pain and suffering as they must eat gluten for biopsy to have an accurate diagnosis.

Chronic Disease

· Celiac disease is a chronic, autoimmune condition that needs to be diagnosed on a timely basis. It is important to have physicians support for OHIP-insured coverage of the IgA TTg blood test at the primary care level so that doctors can diagnose their patients sooner before longer-term complications set in.

· Better screening and access to medical care for people with celiac disease in at-risk or racialized communities is needed.

Health human resources

Equality of care is key. Rural patients and those in Northern or remote communities see more challenges for diagnosis such as to biopsies and follow-up care.

Long-term Care

There are challenges for seniors to access long-term care and their required gluten-free diet – their medicine. Celiac disease can be a barrier to entry with some facilities lack of ability to accommodate dietary needs and guarantee safety. Chronic diarrhea and iron deficiency, as just two examples, put an unneeded burden on health resources and emergency visits.

Home Care

COVID-19 highlighted vulnerable patients, especially seniors, within our community who may rely on others for their food and safe preparation. It is key that health service delivery agencies can accommodate access to nutritious and safe gluten-free food.

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