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.