Osler in India: Reflections from our second Global Health tour

This week’s guest blog is from Dr. Naveed Mohammad, VP Medical Services and Physician Leader of Osler’s Global Health Program

In April, I was honoured to lead a second team to India as part of Osler’s Global Health Program. After a month of reflection following our return, the tour team hosted two events at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General Hospitals to share our experiences and insights from our first hands-on clinical tour. About 150 staff, physicians and volunteers attended the events to hear our stories and learn more about what will shape the program in the future.

While we were on the ground, we worked with the emergency and mental health & addictions teams of our partners at the Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMCH) and Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Ayurvedic Medical College & Hospital in Ludhiana. We were involved with a wide range of activities such as:

  • Hosting medical camps with an emphasis on mental health and addictions;
  • Facilitating diabetes screening and education events for patients from 30 villages;
  • Providing recommendations, making observations and shadowing staff in various clinical settings, and;
  • Solidifying our partnership by signing a memorandum of understanding with Apollo Hospitals (Apollo) and DMCH.

Our biggest take away was the role of the family in shaping the patient experience. At each hospital, a family member was at the patient’s bedside at all times and was seen as a vital member of the care team. We’ve taken this learning and are looking for ways to incorporate the role of families into planning and care processes across Osler.

As we look to improve our practices and strengthen our partnerships abroad, we are exploring ways to share clinical knowledge and best practices between teams at Osler and in India. Videos will be created to share educational content and information between the partners. We’re also partnering on research initiatives with Apollo and DMCH to conduct leading edge studies to better understand the factors that influence disease progression in south Asians in Canada and India.

While we had a positive experience, the challenges faced by patients in developing countries were all too real. Like the woman who was brought to the emergency department after having a stroke but left after spending all her money on an MRI and couldn’t afford the time-sensitive treatment that would help her live a normal life. Or the family of a young boy who came to the hospital seeking treatment for his life-threatening viral infection but could only afford three days of treatment in the ICU and returned home, only to lose their son to the infection on the way.

These two scenarios are a foreign concept in Canada where health care is publicly funded and easily accessible in most places, but they are sadly common occurrences in places like India. This underscores the importance of partnering with health care providers around the world to share clinical best practices and learn from one another to truly benefit the patients and families that we serve.

This trip was meaningful in different ways. While we were all sharing the same experiences, each team member had a unique perspective on the work we were doing. They’ve shared their views in our daily tour blog – it’s well worth the read!

While overseas I also had an opportunity to visit neighbouring Pakistan to explore opportunities for future partnerships to support children and the most impoverished people in Karachi, the third largest city in the world. I met with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called SINA Trust, which supports a project named Childlife, which is doing extraordinary work with underprivileged and impoverished people in the slums of the city. It was truly eye-opening and highlighted many opportunities for Osler to make a meaningful contribution but also to learn from this recognized NGO.

We’re excited to announce that our next trip will occur in late March or early April 2017. Information sessions held in the fall will provide further details on the plan for the next trip and the positions that we will be looking to fill on the team.

Celebrating Seniors Month

Seniors Month is celebrated at Osler every June. As our seniors live longer, they continue to show us how to age well and go beyond the limits we often attribute to age.

According to the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), the population of seniors will increase by 62 per cent by the year 2025. This dramatic shift means we need to continue to create programs to support seniors in our community now, and in the future.

At Osler, we are truly committed to caring for those who once cared for us, and this couldn’t be more evident than through our Seniors Programs. We provide a number of inpatient and outpatient services for seniors, offering them more convenient access and integrated care. Some of our services include:

  • Geriatric Mental Health Unit – Care is designed to meet the needs of patients who may be frail, have multiple medical conditions and behavioural support needs
  • Acute Care of Elders (ACE) Unit – Nursing staff on this unit have special training in caring for elderly patients
  • Short-Term Assess and Restore (STAR) Unit – A unit designed for patients aged 60+ who have had an acute hospital stay and need a short, but intensive, therapy program to help increase their strength and mobility before they are discharged
  • Geriatric Emergency Management (GEM) Nurses – A team that helps assess seniors who may need extra care and support when they go home so that they can avoid repeat ED visits
  • Geriatric Outreach Team – A multidisciplinary team that provides non-urgent in-home geriatric assessment to frail seniors who are unable to attend clinic visits
  • Nurse-Led Outreach Team – Nurse Practitioners at Osler partner with long-term care homes in the community to provide timely care to seniors and avoid unnecessary visits to hospital
  • Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) – Specially-trained volunteers engage elderly patients with mind-sharpening activities to help reduce delirium risk factors

And when we open the new Peel Memorial next year, there will be many more opportunities for seniors in our community to engage in health and wellness programs. Seniors and their families will have access to a team of professionals specializing in geriatric and preventive health care.

On Sunday, June 19 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. connect with the geriatric care team from Osler’s emergency department (ED) at our Community Seniors Fair at the Brampton Soccer Centre. This annual event helps raise awareness of community resources that are available for seniors, their families and caregivers in Peel Region. Funds raised will be used to equip Osler’s EDs with senior-friendly items to help make the environment safer and more comfortable for elderly patients.

This event grows in popularity every year. I hope you will join us and spread the word about it with those who you think would benefit from attending.