Moving closer to a new Etobicoke General

This week’s guest blogger is Ann Ford, Joint VP, Facilities and Redevelopment

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Excitement is starting to build at Etobicoke General as Osler is one step closer to breaking ground on the new four-storey wing. Last week, Osler and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) announced that Etobicoke Healthcare Partnership (EHP) has been chosen to design, build, finance and maintain the hospital’s new four-storey wing.

Etobicoke General, which originally opened in 1972, is undergoing significant revitalization to meet the growing demands of its community. The new four-storey wing will add approximately 250,000 square feet of space to the hospital and house the services most urgently needed by the community it serves including:

  • A larger, state-of-the-art emergency department
  • Cardiac Care and Intensive Care units
  • A maternal newborn unit with birthing suites and a specialized nursery
  • A new ambulatory procedures unit
  • Cardiorespiratory and neurodiagnostic services

Over the next two months, Osler will work with IO to finalize contract details with EHP and construction is expected to begin shortly after the contract is finalized. In the meantime, we’re continuing our Early Works project to prepare the 43-year old building and systems for the new addition. This work includes replacing existing chillers, upgrading the heating plant, and enhancing electrical and mechanical systems.

We’re also getting ready to start construction on the new Ancillary Services Building (ASB) at Etobicoke General. This building will house a number of outpatient programs/services, including a fracture clinic, diagnostic imaging, and a satellite dialysis program. Construction on the new building is expected to begin this spring. Stay tuned for exciting announcements coming soon.

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We’re on track to complete construction of Peel Memorial by October 2016. It will then take approximately two to three months to install and set up equipment and furnishings, make sure all systems are working, and orient staff to the new workplace. The new facility will open its doors to the community in early 2017. Check out the daily progress at the Peel Memorial site by viewing our webcam.

For more information about our redevelopment program, visit the Osler website.

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Mobilizing staff to move patients through the ED

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Over the years I’ve written a lot about our annual holiday surge, when we typically see an increase in patient visits over the festive season. But higher patient volumes are quickly becoming the new normal.

Over the last six weeks, many hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area, including Osler, have seen higher than normal patient visits to the ED. Dr. Naveed Mohammad, Osler’s Vice President of Medical Affairs, recently told the Brampton Guardian, “We’re seeing record numbers. [On March 14], we saw 500 patients in 24 hours.”

The recent surge in patient volumes are the result of many factors: increased flu activity, reduced hours at walk-in clinics due to vacations and a shortage of in-patient mental health resources in the community. Even though we’ve made improvements to the ED to help increase the flow of patients and communication, we’re still feeling the pressure and have responded with a new approach called Code Gridlock.

Here’s how it works. Osler uses a stoplight system to monitor patient flow conditions to determine if the demand exceeds our ability to provide timely service – green (normal), yellow (urgent) and red (critical/gridlock). Each colour triggers a different response and when we surpass all three, and have more than 30 patients waiting for admission in the ED with less than 10 patients confirmed for discharge, we call Code Gridlock.

We know that high patient volumes don’t just effect the Emergency Department (ED), the impacts are felt hospital wide. Code Gridlock mobilizes the entire hospital to help reduce the number of patients waiting in the ED for admission to an inpatient unit.

Osler treats Code Gridlock like any other emergency situation and sets up a command centre to ensure our response is consistent and well organized. The command team directs our internal teams and engages with our partners at the Central West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Headwaters Health Care Centre (Headwaters) to help move patients through the local system more efficiently to reduce pressure in Osler hospitals. Some measures include:

  • Integrated Care Coordinators at Etobicoke General attend rounds to help identify non-critical patients that can be discharged with CCAC services;
  • Additional Care Coordinators can be brought in at Brampton Civic to participate in family meetings so hospital staff can support more discharges; and,
  • Some patients will be moved a hospital, closest to their home, that can provide an appropriate level of care, such as Headwaters.

Code Gridlock, along with numerous other preventative measures, is helping to keep our patients safe and ensure access to care during these extra busy times.

Safety tips for a safe and healthy March Break

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

At this time last year, we were locked in a deep freeze that we never thought would end. Even though this winter has been much kinder to us, any long stretch of cold weather makes me think of getting away for a few days to rest and recharge.

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March Break is just around the corner. Whether you’re headed south for a tropical getaway or spending a few days on the slopes, our Live Well with Osler series has you covered. Find out the five things you should think about before travelling that can keep you safe and healthy during your trip.

One of the most important things to do before travelling anywhere is to make sure that vaccinations for you and your family members are up-to-date. This also includes the flu vaccine.

Compared to last year, we’ve had a pretty mild flu season mainly due to warmer temperatures and the vaccine being a good match to the virus. But flu season is far from over and we’re starting to see more flu activity at Osler and across the Central West region.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, vaccination is a personal choice and there are many reasons why I choose to get vaccinated every year. There are just as many reasons why others choose not to get vaccinated but the data speaks for itself. Receiving the flu vaccine helps to:

  • Eliminate 30,000 visits to the emergency department;
  • Avoid 1,000 hospitalizations; and,
  • Prevent 300 deaths in Ontario.

The best way to prevent getting and spreading the flu is to get vaccinated. I encourage you to do your part in supporting a healthy community at work, at home and beyond by getting vaccinated against the flu.

There are many ways for you to get vaccinated against the flu. Make an appointment to see your family doctor or visit your pharmacist at participating a pharmacy (like Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall) while your stocking your first aid kit.

Bon voyage!