Osler in India and Pakistan: A rewarding experience

This week’s guest blogger is Susan deRyk, Joint VP, Service Quality & Community Relations and Co-Lead of the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Program

We live it every day, but some things really bring Osler’s Vision: Patient-Inspired Health Care without Boundaries to the forefront. For 17 days in March and early April, I had the privilege of participating in the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Program’s third tour to India and Pakistan. This was a humbling experience, a life changing event, and profoundly demonstrated how the Osler community embraces our Vision.

It was a rewarding and humbling experience to be part of this extraordinary team focused on accepting the challenge of caring for patients in an environment with limited resources on the other side of the world.

The team returned in mid-April, and having had a chance to reflect on our experience, which was packed with more highlights than we could capture in our daily blogs, we were pleased to share more insights through staff information sessions held earlier this month.

In India, we continued to build on partnerships established over the past two years with the Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMCH) in Ludhiana and the staff and nursing students at Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Dental College & Hospital (SKSS) in Sarabha village.

We spent almost three days at DMCH, working with staff and physicians from the mental health and addictions program and emergency medicine, to exchange ideas about patient triage, assessment and care planning. The nursing staff was enthusiastic to implement some of the processes we use at Osler, especially group counselling for patients.

What struck many of us while at DMCH was the level of involvement of families in the delivery of patient care. This collaborative approach has inspired Osler to develop a Family Presence Policy that will enable families to better support their loved ones in hospital. As part of our partnership agreement, we have both committed to reporting back to each other on the initiatives we have agreed to launch before our next trip.

At SKSS, the team helped provide care at two medical camps for local villagers that focused on diabetes education and screening as well as mental health and addictions. These camps offered much-needed care as we provided care and treatment for 500 people in two days! With these volumes it gave us a taste of home away from home, as did the incredible hospitality we were shown at every turn. It was heartwarming to be welcomed into their community to share their customs, and traditions.

Following our experience in India, the team connected in Karachi, Pakistan with program co-lead Dr. Naveed Mohammad to visit two of ChildLife Foundation’s free paediatric emergency departments, as well as ChildLife’s sister organization, SINA Health, Education, and Welfare Trust (SINA), which operates 17 primary care clinics in the poorest neighborhoods of Karachi. With extremely limited resources, but impressive resourcefulness and organization, these organizations care and treat more than a million patients every year.

As we toured a number of facilities with SINA, we saw firsthand the challenges that limited resources, and a patient population with poor literacy and high rates of poverty, pose on this organization. Together, we identified many opportunities for partnership and are excited to explore more in the coming months.

It is a true privilege to contribute our expertise in areas around the world while also gaining invaluable insights about caring for the patients we serve at home. We look forward to continuing to build strong relationships abroad that will help us better support patients and families in our own communities.

Singing the praises of Osler’s incredible teams

The old saying “it takes a village” most certainly applies to Osler. The remarkable roster of clinicians, professionals and volunteers at Osler enable us to provide exceptional care to patients and families every single day. So, each year we take the time to recognize their considerable talents.

Ontario Doctor’s Day

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Every year we mark Ontario Doctor’s Day (May 1) to celebrate the 850 physicians who provide care at Osler. They are passionate about the work they do inside our walls and in the community by truly living our Vision by providing patient-inspired health care without boundaries.

Many are making significant contributions in the field. Like Dr. Martin Chasen, who was this year’s recipient of McMaster University’s Elizabeth J. Latimer Prize in Palliative Care. Or Dr. Naheed Dosani, who was featured in a news story about his work delivering palliative care to Toronto’s homeless. Or the clinical team from our Emergency Department who travelled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to provide much needed medical relief and train local health care workers. Or Dr. Sameer D’Souza, in collaboration with his colleagues, whose award-winning work in improving the time to physician initial assessment and length of stay has helped transform the ED at EGH into a top-performing ED in the province. This is just the tip of the iceberg and we are so proud to have such amazing talent at Osler!

National Nursing Week

Next week, we’re once again celebrating National Nursing Week (May 8-14) with a number of activities and events at each of our sites with something for everyone including educational seminars, mindfulness sessions, prize draws and more.

I began my career as an critical care nurse and I know firsthand that nursing is often about going the extra mile to meet the needs of patients. Nursing Week is a powerful reminder of how nurses affect the lives of patients and families, and our communities. Osler’s nurses truly exemplify our Mission: innovative care delivered with compassion.

National Volunteer Week

Osler’s volunteers are the unsung heroes of our hospitals, quietly going about their work to support patients, families and clinical teams. During National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) we celebrated our team of more than 1,000 volunteers who make a world of difference to patients and families each day. From cuddling babies in the NICU to serenading complex care patients to leading tours of the new Peel Memorial, they are vital to the Osler community. Our staff have a message for our amazing team of volunteers to let them know just how appreciated they are:

We’re always looking for good people to join our stellar team of volunteers. Learn more about how you can be a part of the action.

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We want to hear about your experiences with Osler’s stellar team. Give us a five-star rating on Facebook, like one of our posts or send a shout out to someone who made a difference in your care on Twitter using #LoveMyMD or #YESThisIsNursing. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Cutting the ribbon at Peel Memorial

We’ve celebrated a number of milestones at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness but we recently reached our most momentous one yet. From ground breaking to topping off, substantial completion to last week’s ribbon cutting, we’re thrilled to finally reach the end of our redevelopment journey.

Osler was proud to welcome Premier Kathleen Wynne, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa – along with local MPPs, donors and community partners – to celebrate the grand opening of the new Peel Memorial last Wednesday. Following remarks that took us on a journey through the hospital’s long and storied history, our honoured guests gathered in front of the bright and colourful windows in the atrium to officially “cut the ribbon” and open the new outpatient hospital.

To echo many of our speakers, the new Peel Memorial is greatly needed in the community. Our patient volumes are steadily increasing and we recently saw a remarkable 789 combined visits in the emergency departments and Urgent Care Centre (UCC) in  . While the UCC opened a few months ago, we’re already seeing patient daily patient volumes that exceed our targets.

Peel Memorial will work seamlessly with Osler’s two other hospital sites – Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General – so patients can easily move between the three facilities and quickly receive access to care for non-life-threatening illnesses.

Our unique approach to care at Peel Memorial focuses on the treatment of patients who don’t require an overnight stay in hospital and offers an extensive list of specialty and day clinics, as well as health services and programs, needed most in the community. This includes supporting the unique needs of seniors, children, people requiring mental health services and individuals living with chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma.

We are thrilled to celebrate the official grand opening of Peel Memorial, which we know will serve our community well.

Welcoming spring with a record-breaking Holi Gala

Now that warmer weather is here, it’s safe to say that springtime is in full bloom. But two weeks ago when we had our final blast of winter, Osler Foundation welcomed spring a little early, and in colourful fashion, with their fourth annual Holi Gala, presented by Interstate Freight Systems (IFS).

Traditionally, Holi is known as the “festival of colours” in India that marks the arrival of spring and end of winter. At Osler, it’s an opportunity to celebrate and connect with the incredibly diverse community that we serve in Brampton.

This vibrant night brings together the best in traditional and contemporary Indian culture through food, dance and entertainment making it one of my favourite events to attend. More than 850 guests attended the sold out event as well as several dignitaries including Patrick Brown, Ontario’s Leader of the Official Opposition; Linda Jeffrey, Mayor of Brampton; and other MPP’s and City Councillors.

The timing of the event coincided with the latest tour for the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Team, where a clinical team from Osler was on the ground working and providing care with health care partners in Punjab, India and Karachi, Pakistan. Osler emergency physician Dr. Gurjit Bajwa, who was part of a previous tour, spoke to the crowd about how these partnerships benefit patients from our two very different, yet deeply connected continents. Learn more about the current team’s experience in their daily blog.

By the end of the night, Holi Gala raised a record breaking $400,000 to support vital programs and services at Etobicoke General Hospital, Brampton Civic Hospital and the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness! Congratulations and thank you to our dedicated Co-Chairs, Dr. Vandana Ahluwalia and Dr. Gurjit Bajwa, the volunteer committee, and the many enthusiastic staff, physicians and sponsors for their support of patient-centred health care delivered in our community and beyond.

In case you missed it, check out the photo gallery from the event!

New year, new goals

It might seem a little strange to talk about starting a new year in April but for organizations like Osler, this is when we kick off a brand new fiscal year. We mark this occasion by releasing two important documents that will help guide the work we do for the year ahead – our Annual Business Plan (ABP) and Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).

While we value the continuing work we do in collaboration with our regional partners, this year, we’ve transitioned back to an “Osler only” strategic agenda in our ABP that will focus on four key areas – quality, patient experience, operational excellence and improving access – while building on the successful work we completed as a result of last year’s plan.

In earlier blogs, we highlighted the record patient volumes we’ve experienced over the past year. We expect this trend of higher volumes and more complex patients to become the new normal as our local patient population continues to grow and age. Adopting an Osler-focused approach will help us effectively navigate this increasingly complex and changing environment while targeting our focus on key areas where we can make improvements.

In the midst of these pressures, we’ve had a momentous year marked by some considerable achievements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We opened the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness and started construction on the new four-storey patient tower and Ancillary Services Building at Etobicoke General Hospital.
  • We received a record seven leading practice designations from Accreditation Canada, which showcased our commitment to quality and patient safety.
  • We launched the MyChartTM online patient portal to give patients easy, secure access to their health information from Osler so they can make more informed choices about their care.
  • We introduced a new Code Stroke protocol that allows clinicians to rapidly assess a suspected stroke at the onset of symptoms and provide treatment for patients in our emergency department (ED), and on our inpatient units.
  • We returned to India as part of our Global Health Program where a clinical team from Osler worked with a number of health care and hospital partners to deliver on-the-ground care, participate in teaching opportunities and learn from providers in Punjab.
  • We were named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2017, the fifth straight year we’ve received this honour!

While our ABP this year is Osler-focused, we were pleased to develop a joint QIP with our partners at the Central West Community Care Access Centre and Headwaters Health Care Centre for the third straight year. Our QIP builds on previous quality improvement activities and introduces new ones that will help us continue to deliver safe, effective care that meets our patients’ needs and expectations across the region. Here’s a look at some of the progress we’ve made this year:

  • By working collaboratively to meet the unique needs of patients who no longer need hospital care, we were able to achieve the lowest Alternate Level of Care (ALC) in Ontario for the second year in a row.
  • The five Health Links in the Central West region were successful in completing the most coordinated care plans in Ontario for complex and vulnerable patients.

These achievements are just the tip of the iceberg at Osler. As I reflect on all of the amazing work our teams are doing on the front lines and behind the scenes to serve patients in the community, it makes me incredibly proud. While we have a lot of work ahead of us to manage and excel amid growing patient volumes, I have no doubt that we will be able to share more great news when we release our next ABP and QIP a year from now.

Busting the biggest nutrition myths

Is eating eggs bad for my cholesterol? Do avocados make me gain weight? Is eating smaller meals throughout the day healthier than having three square meals? These are some of food-based questions many of us wrestle with every day.

During Nutrition Month, the focus on healthy living can become even more intense. This month not only reminds us of the essential role Osler’s dietitians have in keeping patients healthy, it gives us an opportunity to tap into this skilled team to clarify myths, misconceptions and downright untruths about food.

We want to eat healthy but with so much conflicting information out there, knowing how to give your body what it needs is no easy task. And with health-related information coming in from so many different directions, it can be difficult to decode good nutrition from bad.

Our dietitians always like to have a little fun during Nutrition Month, and this year they’ve debunked some of the biggest nutrition myths to give you a better idea of how to best feed your body. Our monthly Live Well with Osler focuses on five common nutrition myths and we’ve also created some fun videos that can help you make smarter choices next time you visit the grocery store.

Nutrition Myths Debunked: The Avocado

Avocados are one of most popular superfoods in the grocery store today. But is it really the Clark Kent of fruits?

Nutrition Myths Debunked: Cholesterol and Eggs

We know that eggs pack a healthy protein punch but some older studies link them to high dietary cholesterol. Is this information all it’s cracked up to be?

Nutrition Myths Debunked: Pure Fruit Juice

Many of us look at pure fruit juice as an easy way to get our required five to 10 servings a day. But do hidden sugars derail our good intentions?

With the opening of the new Peel Memorial, Osler is committed to focusing on health, wellness and the prevention of illness. Education is a big part of Peel Memorial’s programming and we will work with patients to help prevent health issues, manage chronic disease and live a healthier, active life.

Are there any more food myths that have you puzzled? Let us know in the comments!

Your health care options for March Break

It’s hard to believe that it’s already March Break. We’ve had a roller coaster of a year so far as we’ve continued to experience significant patient volumes throughout our sites. This steady pace has me thinking about taking some time to relax and recharge my batteries.

Even though we all try to do our best to stay healthy, especially when there is a vacation or school break coming up, it doesn’t always work out that way. But Osler has you covered.

If you’re staying close to home this March Break and do need to visit us, you now have another option in addition to the emergency departments at Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General. Peel Memorial’s new Urgent Care Centre (UCC) is here to help when it’s not an emergency, but it can’t wait. Some examples of non-life threatening illnesses or injuries that can be treated at the UCC include:

  • Sprains and broken bones
  • Cuts that might need stitches
  • Allergic reactions, skin rashes
  • Asthma attacks
  • Minor burns
  • Fevers, coughs and colds
  • Infections
  • Nose and throat complaints

If you find yourself in an emergency health situation where you have severe chest pain, stroke symptoms or you are uncertain, always CALL 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.

For those lucky enough to be travelling, our Live Well with Osler series has a helpful list of the five things you should think about before travelling that can keep you safe and healthy during your trip.

Another way is to get vaccinated against the flu. Believe it or not, flu season ends in April and the best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated. While it’s a personal choice to get a flu vaccine, there are still many ways for you to get one. Make an appointment to see your family doctor or visit your pharmacist at a participating pharmacy while you’re stocking your first aid kit.

I wish you all a safe and healthy break. Have fun!