If you are the parent of a child with physical or developmental disabilities, the last thing you need to worry about is navigating a complex health care system to get help.

Two of Eastern Ontario’s leading providers of pediatric health services are hoping to change that.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC) announced a plan to join forces to create one new organization.

The idea is to put the myriad of services available to children with disabilities under one umbrella. “A simple idea, complicated to organize,” says CHEO President and CEO, Alex Munter. “One child, one door, one story, one health record, one care plan, and therefore one team.”

Christine Dalgleish was on hand for the announcement. Her daughter, Abby, has an as-yet undiagnosed condition of her cerebellum affecting her balance, motor skills and speech. Dalgleish says, when you first realize something is wrong with your child, the different layers of potential services can be daunting. "You don't know where to go. You don't know where to turn to. Do I go to CHEO? Do I go to OCTC?" she says. Then it’s a constant effort to keep retelling Abby’s story to each new specialist, and making sure her records are up-to-date.

Today, five-year-old Abby is a regular at both institutions, attending a specialized kindergarten at OCTC, and continuing treatments and diagnostic tests at CHEO. Dalgleish welcomes the announced amalgamation as a way to eliminate the sometimes dizzying maze of specialists she has to navigate. “If I don’t have to call neurology directly, I don’t have to call the developmental pediatrician, I don’t have to call the therapist directly to get an overall picture of what’s going on with my child, that means that you’ve got more time to really concentrate on your child,” she says.

“We’re going to make information easier to share between health professionals, care plans easier, wait times shorter, fewer assessments and quicker treatments,” adds Munter.

The amalgamation won’t happen overnight. There are still some regulatory hurdles to jump. The goal is to make it official by the end of the year, and to have both systems fully integrated by April of 2018.

There are no details of what jobs might be affected through restructuring. Munter says any savings achieved through efficiencies will be put back into front-line services.