Programming Connection

Ontario Hepatitis C Team: The Ottawa Hospital and Regional Hepatitis Program 

The Ottawa Hospital

Why Was the Program Developed?

Ottawa Hospital’s hepatitis C team is one of 15 such teams in Ontario. The teams were developed as part of a strategy to improve hepatitis C prevention, testing, treatment and support services. The primary mode of hepatitis C transmission in Canada is injection drug use. People who have used injection drugs in the past or who are currently using injection drugs may experience significant barriers to adequate and appropriate healthcare, including treatment for hepatitis C, in traditional settings.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care recognized this and established the Ontario Hepatitis C Nursing Program in 2007. Through this program, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care wanted to increase access to treatment in under-serviced communities with high rates of hepatitis C.

A report on the Ontario Hepatitis C Nursing Program highlighted the need for more support for clients. The report recommended an expansion of the Ontario Hepatitis C Nursing Program to include a comprehensive approach to care. Sixteen hepatitis C teams were created to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive approach to the support and treatment of people at risk for and living with hepatitis C. As of January 2015, 15 teams are in operation.

The goal of Ontario’s hepatitis C strategy is to provide care and treatment services to help curb the spread of the virus by ensuring that people have access to prevention information and materials, are tested for hepatitis C regularly and have access to treatment when they test positive. Its main objectives are:

  • to increase access to hepatitis C care and treatment among priority populations
  • to increase knowledge and awareness of hepatitis C to prevent transmission among priority populations
  • to increase collaboration, coordination and evidence-based practice across the system responding to hepatitis C

Each team consists of (an) outreach worker(s), a community coordinator, nurse(s), psychosocial support workers, and peers. Teams usually also include registered social workers. In addition, they each have at least one consulting physician.