Roaring into 2017 with record patient volumes

Happy New Year! After spending some quality time with family and friends over the holidays, I’m ready to kick off another exciting year at Osler. I hope you had the opportunity to make some special memories with your loved ones this season, too.

It feels so strange to be typing “2017” but there will be great things happening in the coming year – and it roared in like a lion! We expect to see a higher than normal volume of patients during the holidays and this year was no exception – in fact – it was another record setting year.

In true Osler fashion, the busy festive season started with a Code Gridlock at Brampton Civic Hospital that was lifted just two days before Christmas. The pace hasn’t let up. In fact, there were so many visitors to our emergency departments, we have issued a number of Code Gridlocks at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General to help us manage the steady stream of patients. Our teams across the organization are mobilized and focused on patient admissions and timely discharges, and on working with our partners to help keep patients moving to where they needed to be in the hospital as quickly as possible.

According to Kiki Ferrari, Osler’s Interim Executive Vice President of Clinical Services, “Our teams are, and continue to be, nothing short of spectacular during this year’s surge and beyond. The past few holiday seasons have shown us just how vital it is to work together to manage high patient volumes, especially when we need to react to demands that seem to change hour to hour.”

A number of factors contributed to the increase in patient volumes, including a surge of flu activity in the community. Many hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area have seen a significant increase in patients coming to the ED with the flu as the season is starting to peak, and Osler is no different. With more than half of flu season left to go it’s even more important to get vaccinated.

By the official end of the two week surge period, we had an unprecedented 25,734 patient visits. When we break it down, this adds up to:

  • 10,146 patients in our emergency departments
  • 2,216 patients admitted for inpatient care
  • 13,432 outpatient and day surgery visits

That averages out to our teams providing care for approximately 1,719 patients per day. These numbers tell an incredible story that begins and ends with the tremendous teamwork and dedication of Osler’s teams throughout this challenging time. While the ED is often the first place we feel the surge, impacts are felt throughout the hospital. Our inpatient, diagnostic imaging, laboratory and support service teams – in collaboration with many others – also worked tirelessly to provide an exceptional experience for patients during this busy time.

High patient volumes are nothing new for us but the way everyone – including staff, physicians and volunteers – rallied in response should be acknowledged and commended.

Thank you for going beyond to provide patient-inspired care without boundaries.

Weathering the surge and staying healthy this holiday season

High patient volumes are the new normal for us and each year we anticipate a 10 per cent increase in activity during the festive season during our annual holiday surge.

Last year, we set a record with 455 patients visiting the emergency department (ED) at Brampton Civic on Boxing Day. This was more than any other hospital in Ontario. Etobicoke General also saw significant volumes that peaked at 242 patient visits to the ED in a single day. By the end of the two week surge period we provided care to nearly 24,000 patients in our EDs, inpatient units and outpatient clinics.

Our amazing teams clearly have their work cut out for them at this time of year and we’re once again working hard to prepare for this annual increase in patient volumes.

What is Osler doing to help manage more patients?

In addition to creating waves in the ED, the surge has a ripple effect that quickly spreads to other parts of the hospital. We’ve put a number of measures in place to help get us ready, including:

  • Working with our partners at Central West CCAC and Headwaters, as well as EMS and Peel Public Health, to plan a united approach to care;
  • Using programs like Hospital to Home (H2H) to provide care in non-acute settings when possible;
  • Flexing our bed capacity to better align with demand and to respond to patient need;
  • Monitoring daily patient volumes and holding “command centre” meetings to strategize around the best way to move patients through the hospital;
  • Communicating with health care providers in the community to encourage the delivery of services without interruption; and,
  • Making sure our teams are staffed up and ready to act when we need them.

At the end of the day, our success during the surge comes down to the incredible teams of people who spend their holidays helping others. Thank you for your support and cooperation as we head into this busier than normal time!

How can patients prepare for the holiday season?

Patients and families also have a part to play in staying healthy over the holidays. A few simple ways include getting vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus and knowing the health care options before coming to the ED to avoid the wait.

We’ve posted important information on Osler’s website, our Facebook page and Twitter feed to help educate patients about their health care options to receive the right care, in the right place this holiday season. This month’s Live Well with Osler topic also provides some helpful tips for how patients can stay healthy and happy during this most wonderful time of the year.

Happy holidays from Osler!

To cap off the year, we decided to have a little fun with our traditional holiday message. We asked teams at each site to take part in a festive Mannequin Challenge, a meme taking the Internet by storm, and boy did they deliver. Take a look – you may see some familiar faces!

This will be my last blog of 2016. On behalf of the entire Osler family, I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

A night to remember with Colin James and Barenaked Ladies

One of my most exciting moments to date as interim President and CEO took place on November 26, at the Rose Theatre in Brampton. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with people who support the great patient care we deliver at Osler, and this evening was no exception. This was the place to be as Osler Foundation held its annual One Night * Two Stars * Three Hospitals gala benefit concert. Colin James and Barenaked Ladies (BNL) dazzled the crowd with chart-topping favourites that got everyone to their feet!

There were so many memorable moments that night it’s hard to pick a favourite, but for me it was when BNL sang a special song about Brampton. It was funny, touching and really brought home the message that the evening was all about the people in the community we serve.


In addition to the high-energy entertainment, we also celebrated some of Osler Foundation’s biggest champions:

  • Ken Mayhew, President and CEO of Osler Foundation, honoured Lois Rice, a long-time donor, champion and friend of Osler Foundation, and presented her with the key to Peel Memorial.
  • Bob Peacock, President of ALMAG Aluminum, donor, and Chair of the Peel Campaign Committee, became the third recipient of the Osler Foundation Corporate Philanthropy Award.


To paraphrase a class BNL tune, Osler Foundation called and the community answered.

Osler Foundation challenged the audience to ‘equip a room’ by making on the spot donations at the gala to support the purchase of much needed equipment for Osler hospitals. Every gift, regardless of size, was acknowledged with a white teddy bear and once the challenge was over the auditorium was awash in white. It was truly a sight to see.

This final flurry of donations made the event a record-breaking night that raised a total of $707,000, the most ever for the gala benefit concert! As in years past, proceeds from the event will fund redevelopment projects and the latest generation of medical technology and diagnostic equipment needs across Osler’s three sites.

If you missed the excitement, check out our photo gallery! And a special thank you to everyone who came out to this event to support Osler in its vision to deliver patient-inspired health care without boundaries.

The changing face of the Central West LHIN

This week’s guest blogger is Dr. Frank Martino, Chief of Staff

The Central West region is in the midst of an unprecedented growth spurt. Our partners at the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) have crunched the numbers in their fourth Integrated Health Service Plan. Here are some of the changes we’ve seen over the past few years, and what we can expect in the near future:

  • More than 922,000 people call this area home – that’s seven per cent of Ontario’s population – and this number is expected to grow to almost 1.1 million people by the year 2025.
  • Not only is our population growing, it’s also aging. By 2025 the population of seniors (those aged 65 or more) is expected to increase by an incredible 62 per cent, from 111,000 to 180,000 people.
  • Brampton Civic Hospital had 27 per cent more visits per year than the next busiest site, making it home to the busiest Emergency Department (ED) in Canada.
  • Our region is one of the most geographically and ethnically diverse in the province with 47 per cent being immigrants. Nearly half of these residents speak English as their second language.

These numbers tell us that we need to act now to make sure our local health care system will meet the current and future needs of our growing, aging and diverse community. Osler is taking steps to make this a reality.

We’re now just two months away from opening the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness (Peel Memorial) and many patients will be referred to the outpatient programs and services offered at this new facility. This presents us with an exciting opportunity to redefine the delivery of care with our partners across the system.

As we make the conscious effort to focus on delivering health care where and when patients need it most, primary care providers will play an increasingly important role in the delivery of care in our community. While services at Peel Memorial will open to the public in February, we’ve already started caring for, and treating, a small number of patients in Addictions Counselling, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Counselling and the Eating Disorders Clinic.

What can referring physicians and specialists expect at Peel Memorial? Better local access to some of the high-demand health services that this community needs such as complex care management, hemodialysis, seniors’ rehab and wellness supports. There will also be a strong emphasis on chronic disease management, mental health services, diagnostic services, and urgent care.

We’ll be sending referral packages to primary care physicians across the LHIN this month so they know what to expect at our brand new facility. We’re looking forward to providing care management of complex medical conditions to everyone in our community who needs it.

We’re one step closer to opening Peel Memorial

One of my first duties since stepping into the role of Interim President and CEO was to welcome the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to the new Peel Memorial to recognize substantial completion of the building, a formal ceremony where the builders presented us the keys to the building!

The bright, airy atrium with rainbow-tinted windows was the perfect backdrop for us to recognize the end of major construction of the new outpatient hospital as we prepare to open in February 2017. Not too bad for week one!

Over 150 people gathered in the atrium to celebrate this milestone including the Honourable Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, MPP Vic Dhillon (Brampton West), MPP Harinder Malhi (Brampton-Springdale), MPP Amrit Mangat (MPP Mississauga Brampton-South), other dignitaries, donors and staff. We also had quite a few local media in attendance who joined dignitaries for a tour of our new facility.

While the hospital won’t open to the public for a few more months, a handful of outpatient counselling clinics and our administrative teams have already moved into their new spaces. When Peel Memorial is fully opened, patients and families in the community will have access to a number of services including:

  • Urgent Care Centre that will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, and staffed by emergency-trained physicians and staff
  • Outpatient Procedures/Day Surgery including cataract and arthroscopic surgery, and minor gynaecology procedures
  • Chronic Disease Management focused on education and support to help people with chronic health issues (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular or kidney disease) to manage their condition
  • Community Mental Health and Addictions Services including an eating disorders clinic, addictions counselling, and seniors’ behavioural support
  • Specialized Clinics for prenatal education, maternal and newborn care, gynaecological and obstetrical services, and services for children and adolescents
  • Seniors’ Wellness including geriatric assessment clinics, preventative care, and rehabilitation services all focused on maintaining independence
  • Diagnostic Services including x-ray, mammography, ultrasound, CT scans, bone mineral density tests, and laboratory services
  • Dialysis Unit that will gradually ramp up to 12 stations

As we continue to put the finishing touches on our clinical spaces, we’ve invited Osler staff, health care partners and the community to get a sneak peek of the building. Over the past week close to 1,000 staff, physicians, partners and members of our community have toured the new Peel Memorial, with nearly 700 community members visiting over the weekend.

We are hosting more community tours at Peel Memorial on December 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information can be found on our website.

The future is certainly bright at Osler as we take the next steps in our journey. We can’t wait until February when we can officially open our doors!

A brand new pair of shoes…

If there is one thing anyone can say about Osler it’s that nothing stays the same for long. Change is a part of daily life for all of us and this month marks a big one as we say goodbye to Matt Anderson and I step into the role of Interim President and CEO.

My name is Joanne Flewwelling and I would like to start by saying an enthusiastic hello. Some of you may already know me from my occasional guest blogs or from my time visiting units or attending huddles – I’m excited to be taking on this new role and I look forward to meeting more of you over the next few months as I continue rounding throughout the organization.

As I take the baton, I would like to thank Matt for all of his contributions to Osler. Personally, Matt has been a great mentor to me. He’s been a great leadership role model not only to me but to others at Osler and we will miss him.

I am incredibly proud to take on this interim role as the Board searches for our next President and CEO. One of many things I get to do is take over the CEO blog, which will be a lot of fun. We’ll continue to explore topics that are important to the health of the community while showcasing the phenomenal patient-inspired work done by Osler’s talented teams.

As we get to know each other better – I wanted to share some things about me that many people may not know.

  • There have been so many memorable moments at Osler but the one that stands out most for me was having Kay Blair, Osler’s former Board Chair, and an incredible innovator and collaborator, speak to us about her own personal experience as a patient at our organization. It was one of the most meaningful and grounding experiences I have had as she inspired everyone who was present to ‘do better’ for our patients.
  • I chose to pursue a career in health care because my dad encouraged me to explore business and health care. I believe I have a clinical heart and a business brain because of his influence. For me, it is the best of both worlds
  • I look forward to continuing to serve our community through the opening of Peel Memorial and ensuring our exciting redevelopment projects at Etobicoke General continue at the current pace so we can have modern facilities to provide safe, quality, and patient-inspired care.
  • While being in a leadership role requires spending a lot of time at the office, I enjoy my down time as much as you. My favourite ways to unwind is by spending quality time with my family and friends, and when time permits enjoying outdoor sports. I am really looking forward to snowshoeing and skiing this winter.
  • There have been many people who have inspired me throughout my life and career but I would say that Chris Power, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, has inspired me the most. This is because as she progressively took on new roles of responsibility on her journey to become CEO, she exhibited a balance between personal connections, business innovation and advocating for patient safety.

Now that you know a little more about me, I want to hear from you – staff, physicians and members of the Osler community. Submitting a comment or a question is often the first step to starting important conversations. So, fire away! I’m looking forward to getting to know you and sharing some of the important work happening at Osler.

This is Matthew Anderson, signing off

When I announced my departure in August, I didn’t think that my last day would come so quickly.

In the days since my announcement, so many people have come up to wish me well as I take the next step in my career. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to speak with me in the halls, pull me aside in meetings and send notes to wish me well. It’s truly humbling and now the big day is here.

While my last day at Osler is November 3, I have been working closely with my colleagues on the senior leadership team to execute a transition plan to hand over my responsibilities and set our hospital system up for a successful future. Seeing it all fall into place is bittersweet, but I have no doubt that Joanne Flewwelling, Osler’s Interim CEO, is more than up to the task.

I’m proud of all that we’ve done together to put Osler on course for an incredible journey; one that sees Osler transforming health care at the local level and forging ahead as an innovative leader in the province.

Together, we’ve:

  • Implemented our first-ever five year strategic plan that is establishing Osler as a leader in the delivery of innovative health care;
  • Introduced and expanded essential clinical programs that are helping us manage unprecedented patient volumes;
  • Launched redevelopment projects at Brampton Civic, Etobicoke General and Peel Memorial;
  • Made a conscious decision to involve patients and families, not only in their care, but in the creation of services; and,
  • Developed strong relationships with partners across the health care system to support the delivery of truly integrated care to patients in the Central West region.

And all of this was done in just six short years. It’s awe-inspiring when you think about it.

Change is never easy but often times, it is the right time to move on. I feel this way about leaving Osler. I have the rare opportunity to help improve the health care system in the community my family calls home, and it’s an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

Before I sign off, I want to thank each and every person who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past six years. As I mentioned, we’ve achieved so many amazing things together.

From Osler’s team of talented staff, physicians and volunteers; to our regional partners at Central West CCAC, Headwaters and the Central West LHIN who have helped to advance our ambitious integrated approach to care; to the patients and families I’ve met through my Living the Vision rounds; to our friends at the cities of Brampton and Toronto, as well as Queen’s Park, who championed the redevelopment of Peel Memorial and Etobicoke General; to our Board of Directors who firmly believe in the work that we do – THANK YOU for one heck of a ride.