Everyone needs to get “armed” against the flu

This guest blog is from Joanne Flewwelling, Executive Vice President, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive

After a summer of record breaking temperatures we’re finally moving into some cooler months. One of the ways I always prepare for the change in seasons is by getting vaccinated against the flu.

Last week, Osler kicked off its annual flu immunization campaign for staff, physicians and volunteers. This year’s theme is Arm Yourself Against the Flu!

Vaccination is a personal choice. There are many reasons why I choose to get vaccinated and just as many reasons why you may not, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Here are a few flu facts that can help you make the decision to vaccinate:

  • The flu vaccine is safe for most people, even though you may experience some mild soreness or swelling where the vaccine was given. Serious reactions are rare.
  • Whether you work in a health care setting or not, getting the flu can affect you and the people you care about. Young children and seniors are more prone to serious complications from the flu.
  • The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women who are at a higher risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia, from the flu.
  • People living with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, have a higher risk of flu-related complications.
  • The flu vaccine helps protect you from getting the flu as well as preventing many illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths due to the flu.

I encourage you to do your part in supporting a healthy community at work, at home and beyond. There are plenty of opportunities to get vaccinated against the flu in the community:

  • See if your work place offers flu vaccination clinics;
  • Attend a flu clinic in your community (Brampton / Etobicoke); or,
  • Make an appointment with your family doctor or visit a local pharmacy to get vaccinated.

As health care providers, we have a responsibility to protect not just our patients and families, but our colleagues and ourselves. Show your commitment to patient-inspired health care by getting vaccinated.

Marking Osler’s support for patients during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This week’s guest blogger is Joanne Flewwelling, Executive VP Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive

Did you know that one in nine women are affected by breast cancer during their lifetime? Or that breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and these sobering statistics remind us how important it is to provide innovative care to support patients with breast cancer.

Rapid Diagnostic and Breast Support Clinic
In March, Osler launched a Rapid Diagnostic and Breast Support Clinic in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) to provide faster access to care for patients with breast cancer. After a successful ambulatory care review, the department of surgery introduced a collaborative model of care that taps into the talents of a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians from surgery, oncology, diagnostic imaging and pathology. The model puts the patient firmly at the centre of the process, bringing the team to the patient in the Breast Support Clinic within days of the diagnosis, then linking surgical time to that visit. The introduction of a dedicated nurse navigator also helps guide patients through the clinic and facilitate their treatment plan.

This innovative clinic is improving the delivery of cancer care at Osler by reducing wait times for all diagnostics and treatments, enabling more streamlined care, continuing to provide care to patients screened at Osler so they don’t need to seek treatment elsewhere, and improving the overall patient experience. We will also provide predictable wait times for oncology referrals to other treatment options across the health care system so patients who choose to receive care elsewhere can be informed of their options.

Perhaps the biggest goal for the clinic is to reduce the wait time from mammogram to surgery; currently more than 75% of Osler patients with breast cancer are having surgery within 24 days, compared to the provincial average of 64 days. Moreover, patient satisfaction has been evaluated at 100 per cent. While it’s still early days, the team is off to an excellent start!

Many new Canadians call the communities we serve home and according to CCO, women in this group are an under-screened group for breast cancer. Osler’s diagnostic imaging team is teaming up with the Mississauga-Halton Central West Regional Cancer Program to host a “mammothon” at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General Hospitals on October 20. This one-day breast screening blitz will provide women aged 50-74 the opportunity to experience preventative health care at its best.

Osler is continuing to build strong partnerships, like these two examples with CCO, that enable us to continue leading the way in providing innovative health care delivered with compassion.

Leaving Osler ahead by a century

You may not know this about me, but I’m a huge music fan. Earlier this month I had the chance to see one of my favourite bands, The Tragically Hip, take the stage during their final tour. Watching the band play through their catalogue of quintessentially Canadian hits was bittersweet as I knew that this was the end of an era.

While this news is not nearly of the same calibre, many of you have heard that I’ll be leaving Osler this fall. This was not an easy decision to make but it’s the right one.

At Osler, we are committed to providing world-class care closer to home and I’ll have an opportunity to do just that for my own local community in my new role as President and CEO of Lakeridge Health in Oshawa. This move presents an exciting opportunity for me to take the considerable learnings from Osler’s evolution to help create a brand new organization, build a new hospital and improve the health of patients and families in the community my family calls home.

Although this was a very difficult decision, what made it a little bit easier was knowing that Osler is in a great position to continue providing excellent care and services to the community it serves in the Central West. We have an amazing leadership group and wonderful teams throughout Osler that will continue to move forward with the ambitious strategic agenda we have been working so hard to achieve.

In the coming weeks we’re creating a transition plan to set the stage for Joanne Flewwelling, EVP Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive, to step into the role of Interim President and CEO. She is a remarkable leader who inspires everyone around her with such Grace, Too (for you Hip fans out there), and her considerable talents will propel Osler to success as we complete Accreditation, open Peel Memorial and expand Etobicoke General. With the strong leadership of Dr. Frank Martino, Dr. Naveed Mohammad and the entire Senior Leadership Team at her side, we can rest assured that Osler is in safe hands.

Osler is incredibly fortunate to have a team of outstanding leaders throughout the organization who are willing to go beyond in times of change.

It’s hard to believe I came to Osler just over six years ago! In that time we’ve dramatically transformed Osler from a community hospital system into a provincial leader in delivering innovative health care. I couldn’t be more proud of our achievements, and this just scratches the surface:

  • Developing our first-ever five year strategic plan, in which you played a critical role;
  • Introducing and expanding clinical programs that are essential to the health of this community;
  • Focusing on the needs of patients and their families to create the best possible experience;
  • Continuing to provide exemplary care in the face of unprecedented volumes; and,
  • Strengthening our administrative and clinical relationships with our system partners.

Together we had the courage to advocate for change to improve our local health care system for patients and their families. It wasn’t always easy but it was our Music at Work :)  Through it all, I’ve enjoyed my time here and will truly miss it.

While I may have been at the helm during this transformational time, our success has been a full team effort including every member of the Osler family – from staff, physicians, and volunteers to our health care partners. We should all be proud of what we’ve achieved together in such a short time to deliver patient-inspired health care without boundaries to everyone who comes through our doors. It has always been a team effort from incredible folks across the entire organization and that won’t change.

Osler is truly a place like none other. I’m confident that with our wonderful team, and holding true to our values, you will continue to do amazing things for patients and families in the Central West region. A final paraphrase of the legendary words of Gord Downie, the work we have all done together to set Osler up for a successful future has put us Ahead by a Century.

Hugh and Catherine’s 65-year health care journey at Osler

Every day we touch the lives of patients and their families – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I believe you can never underestimate the impact of the care you provide regardless of how you help during the patient journey.

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from John Birks, thanking Osler for the wonderful care his parents – Catherine, 95, and Hugh, 99 – have received at Osler hospitals over the past 65 years. John credits his parents’ long life partially to the care they have received at Osler.

Hugh and Catherine have the distinction of being Brampton’s oldest and longest married couple. Throughout their lives, they have been treated at Peel Memorial and Brampton Civic hospitals. From Emergency to Cardiology, Urology to Palliative, Surgery to Intensive Care and many more, John shared stories of the incredible care his family has received.

Both Hugh and Catherine are living well into their 90s. The constant care, dedication, compassion and professionalism provided by the Osler team have no doubt made a difference in their lives. It is always a pleasure to hear about how Osler staff, physicians and volunteers make a difference in the community. As Osler continues to grow and evolve, I know our team will continue to be committed to providing patient-inspired health care without boundaries.

Hugh and Catherine’s story is a testament to the value of providing an excellent patient experience at every point in the health care journey. I’m always in awe of the many compliments we receive about the care provided at Osler hospitals and it proves how our teams come together to bring our Vision to life by ensuring that truly patient-inspired care is at the heart of everything we do.

I hope this story of gratitude continues to remind us how innovative care delivered with compassion from staff, physicians and volunteers plays an essential role in creating a positive patient experience, every day.

On August 20, Hugh and Catherine will celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary. This is an incredible milestone that very few couples reach and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them. On behalf of everyone at Osler, congratulations on your anniversary and we wish you continued health and happiness!

We’re (almost) on the move to Peel Memorial!

This week’s guest blogger is Ann Ford, Joint VP of Facilities, Redevelopment & IT

In just a few short months Osler will receive the keys to our new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness (Peel Memorial), setting in motion the final steps towards opening its doors to the community in early 2017!

As we count down to the opening of this brand new facility, construction crews are busy completing all the finishing work and PCL, the contractor, is checking over every inch of the facility to make sure everything is perfect.

While our focus over the last two years has been on construction, we are now turning our attention to ensuring our community is informed about the programs and services that will be offered at Peel Memorial, and educated about the new Urgent Care Centre (slated to open in early 2017) – and when to use it.

We have launched a comprehensive communications/public awareness campaign to help spread this important news. Over the coming months, watch for articles in local papers, videos and photos online and through social media, and information brochures and hand-outs. All these approaches will help you learn more about Peel Memorial and the important role it will play in supporting health and wellness. We’ll also be holding events in late fall and early winter to showcase the new facility – stay tuned for details! In the meantime, watch my Ask Ann video for a peek inside Peel Memorial to see how work is progressing:

Steady progress at Etobicoke General

We broke ground on the new wing  and Ancillary Services Building at Etobicoke General in late June and there’s been plenty of activity onsite ever since. We’re continuing to set the stage for the ongoing construction of these new buildings, which means we’re making temporary changes to parking and traffic flow throughout the site. We want to ensure patients and visitors have safe and easy access to the hospital, so here’s what can be expected from now until late fall:

  • Parking Lot D – Patient and visitor parking will be reduced in the north visitor parking lot. Once the lot is full, patients and visitors will be directed to park in Lot K, located on the east side of the site.
  • Parking Lot K – Additional parking for patients and visitors will be added to Lot K. These additional parking spots will help ease the reduction in parking spaces in Lot D.
  • Pay and display parking – To accommodate these changes, all patient parking will be converted to “pay and display.” The staff lot and on-call lot will remain controlled access.

Signs will be posted on the site to reflect these changes and to help direct patients, visitors, staff, physicians and volunteers, as appropriate.

We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact of these parking changes on patients, visitors, staff, physicians and volunteers and appreciate your patience as we work to accommodate construction as we continue to build Etobicoke General!

How Osler’s EDs are “humming like a sewing machine”

This week’s guest blogger is Dr. Naveed Mohammad, VP Medical Affairs

It’s no secret that Osler is home to one of the busiest emergency departments (ED) in Canada. Last year, more than 214,000 people visited the EDs at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General for care, which accounts for an additional 3,400 patients over the previous year. With this kind of volume increase, our teams in the ED need to be at the top of their game.

On any given day, we strive to meet specific targets in the ED – length of stay, time to physician assessment and time to inpatient bed among others to help deliver a better patient experience. We recently reached a new milestone in the ED at Etobicoke General as our 30-day 90th Percentile Time to Physician Initial Assessment (PIA) was reduced to just 1.5 hours for the first time. This means that patients were seen by a physician within 90 minutes, ranking Osler second in the province for this metric.

Two days later, the same team beat its own record and reduced the 30-day 90th Percentile Time to PIA to just one hour. As one physician put it, “we’re humming like a sewing machine.”

These incredible results show that our ED teams are performing at an incredibly high level. In addition to the talent of Osler staff, physicians and volunteers in the ED, a number of measures have recently been put in place to help move patients through the ED more quickly and efficiently.

Some of the changes that are making a difference in Etobicoke General’s ED include:

  • Designated “see and treat” zones in the Ambulatory Treatment Centre (ATC) and Fast Track zones that help to expedite care
  • Demonstrations of exceptional teamwork where physicians arrive early to help move patients and relay information between members of the care team

We’re also making positive changes to the ED at Brampton Civic to help see and treat patients faster:

  • Our ED Patient Experience Team is helping to keep patients comfortable and informed while they wait for treatment
  • Increased physician hours and “flex shifts” are enabling physicians to support busy areas of the ED at any time during the day
  • A new Mental Health Patient Flow Initiative is helping to move mental health patients out of the waiting area and into care quicker

While all of these initiatives help to increase the efficiency of the ED care team, these changes serve a double purpose to enhance the patient experience. A trip to the ED can be a stressful experience but shorter wait times, more frequent contact with patients and better information sharing helps make patients feel more comfortable throughout their journey.

Congratulations to the multi-disciplinary teams who are truly coming together in the ED to provide patient-inspired health care without boundaries!

The Partnership Payoff: More Collaborative Patient Care

Osler is working hard to build strong relationships with our partners at the Central West CCAC and Headwaters, as well as primary care providers in the community, to create a more seamless experience for patients as they move across our local health care system. Here are just a few examples of how we work with our partners to close information gaps to improve care.

Hospital to Home

I’ve written before about our regional Hospital to Home (H2H) and the positive impacts it’s having on patients in the community. Since the program began eight months ago, H2H nurses have conducted more than 3,100 visits to nearly 450 patients. Not only has H2H had a positive impact on patients, the program has helped to improve admission and readmission rates at the hospital:

  • Average length of stay for admitted patients was reduced by 3 days
  • Readmission rates have decreased from 11.5 per cent to 9.2 per cent
  • Hospital admissions have been reduced from 21.4 per cent to 13.8 per cent

Another benefit of the program is that H2H nurses are able to access a patient’s electronic health care record when they are in the hospital and in the home so they can ensure continuity of care.

We captured one patient’s experience moving through this program in a new video. See how an integrated nursing team is helping to improve information sharing and creating smoother transitions between points of care.


In 2013, Osler became host of the Ontario Telemedicine Network’s (OTN) Telehomecare program for the Central West region. This program helps patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Heart Failure take control of their health from home using technology. Each patient works with a dedicated Telehomecare nurse who monitors their health and provides coaching to help them learn to manage their condition.

Throughout the six-month program, Telehomecare nurses provide reports to a patient’s primary care provider to ensure they are aware of a patient’s progress and can help inform care plans when there is a change in condition. This collaborative approach involves the patient, nurse and primary care provider to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved.

Nearly 3,500 patients have participated in this program since it began and the benefits are clear. Patients enrolled in the program saw significant reductions in hospital admissions and fewer visits to the emergency department. See how Telehomecare is benefiting patients in our region: