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!

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Osler staff shines during holiday surge

While many of us are returning to our regular schedule after the holiday season, the fast pace continues for Osler staff, physicians and volunteers. Osler is home to some of the best health care providers in the industry and the last two weeks reminded me just how incredible our team really is.

Between December 22 and January 4, more than 8,800 patients visited our emergency departments (ED) and more than 1,000 patients were admitted for inpatient care. This is a six per cent increase in patient visits over last year. We also saw an early spike in flu activity as 350 patients with confirmed cases of the flu came to our EDs for care during these same two weeks, which added to the holiday surge.

The surge continues with an increase in patient volumes caused by high demand and activity.

Brampton Civic Hospital has the busiest ED in the province – if not the country – and typically sees about 380 patients in the ED on any given day. Throughout December it averaged about 400 patients per day, with a peak of 450 patients on December 26. The ED at Etobicoke General Hospital saw unprecedented level of activity as more than 260 patients came to us for care on December 28.

Osler staff, physicians and volunteers continue to do a tremendous job of providing patient-inspired health care to all patients and their families during this busy time. Spending the holidays supporting the health care needs of the community is a true testament to the exceptional people that make Osler such an incredible place.

We expected to see higher than average patient volumes over the holidays and planned accordingly by temporarily moving outpatient clinics to increase the inpatient capacity on the units, placing medical patients on surgical units and increasing our staffing. Much of our original surge plan remains in place as we continue to experience higher-than-normal patient volumes.

As we continue to respond to the increased patient activity, we are asking the community to do its part. We’ve posted some helpful tips and information to Osler’s website and Facebook page to help you assess your health care options to receive the right care, in the right place, by the right health care provider.

Please continue to visit our website, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get the latest information about our initiatives and ongoing service improvements efforts across Osler.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

From the desk of Joanne Flewwelling, Executive VP, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive

The last time you visited the emergency department (ED) for care, why were you there?

While many people would consider going to the ED only for serious medical incidents, one in five Canadians visit the ED for non-life threatening conditions that could be treated by your family physician or at a clinic. This startling statistic comes from a recent report  from the Canadian Information for Health Information (CIHI).

Osler continues to have one of the busiest EDs in the province with more than 204,000 patients coming through our doors last year. We know that there are a number of reasons why people come to the ED for care and to help alleviate some of the pressure, we’re looking at new ways of providing access to health care services for less acute needs.

Osler is shifting to a new approach to health care, focusing on prevention and health maintenance, with the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness. When the new Peel Memorial is complete in two years, patients will have access to a wide variety of traditional and alternative health care services most needed by the community under one roof, including urgent care (similar to emergency care).

Peel Memorial’s Urgent Care Centre will have the capacity to diagnose and treat more than 40,000 patients in non-life threatening situations that include coughs and colds, minor abdominal pain, soft tissue injuries, and uncomplicated joint dislocations, sprains and cuts. This will increase the capacity to provide acute medical care to patients with more acute or life-threatening conditions in the ED at Brampton Civic.

On top of our already high patient volumes in the ED, we often see an increase in activity over the holiday season. This happens for a number of reasons, including:

  • More cases of the flu
  • Reduced operating hours for or doctor’s offices and walk-in clinics
  • Less availability of community resources
  • Higher rates of health incidents caused by activities of the holiday season

We’re once again working with our local health partners to better understand care options in the community and bringing in extra staff to ensure that our patients and families are receiving timely, patient-inspired care in our EDs. Osler’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed will be used to share tips and information about where patients might also be able to seek care for less complex conditions during the holiday season.

The holiday surge

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”General George S. Patton

Happy New Year! Between the pre-holiday ice storm and a lingering deep freeze, I hope you had an opportunity to stay warm and share some quality time with loved ones over the holiday season.

We’ve seen a lot of action inside our hospitals as the New Year roared in.

Over the last two weeks, we saw an increased number of patients coming to Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General Hospitals. Reduced hours in physician clinics, less availability of community resources, extra stress and activities over the holiday season are some of the many factors that cause the community to rely more heavily on our hospitals.

As one of the busiest EDs in Ontario, Osler saw more than 194,000 patients come through our doors last year. EDs are often the first place patients turn when they are looking for care but we also saw a surge in inpatient activity as a number of patients who began their Osler journey in the ED and were admitted into the acute care units during this time.

Osler staff, physicians and volunteers did an incredible job of providing timely, patient-inspired health care to all patients and their families during this busy time. Spending holiday time supporting the health care needs of the community is the definition of going beyond.

Looking at numbers from last year, we expected to be busier than normal over the holidays so we took a page from General Patton’s playbook to prepare. We started planning early on for this year’s surge to ensure we were well positioned to provide safe, quality health care over the holidays.

While these measures helped to remove some of the pressure, we also relied on you to do your part. Many of you sought information on our website and on Facebook to help you assess your health care options over the holidays so you can get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Please continue to visit our website, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get the latest information about Osler’s initiatives and ongoing service improvement efforts across Osler.

One night. Two Legends. An amazing achievement for Osler!

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present. – Albert Camus, author and philosopher

I recently had the honour of welcoming Canadian music legends Jann Arden and Burton Cummings to Brampton’s Rose Theatre in support of Osler Foundation’s gala benefit concert. And what an amazing evening we had!

Before the concert, Jann Arden graciously met with fans and guests to sign autographs and pose for photos. Onstage, they both were amazing. Jann Arden performed her Juno-award winning hits peppered with her signature wit and humour. With only a piano and his voice, Burton Cummings blew the roof off the theatre with his hits, including The Guess Who classic These Eyes. He had such a wonderful time he told us, backstage, that he would have loved to play longer for the audience!

Both artists took Osler’s message of Going Beyond to heart by donating personal items to the silent auction. Jann Arden created a painting live on stage that sold for $5,000, while Burton Cummings sparked a lively bidding war with his donation of a signed flute he played on The Guess Who hit Undun, which sold for a generous $17,500 bid.

The gala set a new record, raising over $650,000! Congratulations and thank you to the gala committee, the sponsors and of course, the guests who created a memorable evening that will provide tremendous support to Osler’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

We’re ending this year on a high note and this will be my last blog of 2013. While some of us will take time off over the next few weeks, many at Osler will be hard at work providing excellent care to all patients who come through our doors.

Over the holiday season, we often see an increase in patients in the emergency departments (ED). To help us manage during this busy time we’ve posted some important tips to help patients understand their health care options before heading to the ED.

Until the New Year, best wishes for a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Emergency Department flow

When people come to the Emergency Department (ED) they want to receive care as quickly as possible. That is our goal at Osler and we are constantly refining and fine-tuning how we do things throughout the hospital to make sure patients receive the best care in the timeliest way.

Every day about 600 people come through the doors of our two EDs seeking treatment and care and Osler’s staff responds by ensuring that every patient gets the best care possible. It takes an incredible amount of teamwork and coordination to move patients both through the ED and to other areas of the hospital, when needed.

Based on numbers we are doing as well as, or better than other hospitals in Ontario.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, we saw 1,506 people in our EDs, and we performed on par with, or better than, the provincial average in every area with a target, including wait times and discharges.

Nine out of 10 patients with minor conditions received treatment within the provincial target of four hours or less. We have consistently been better than the provincial target for a number of months, and to improve the length of time from registration to discharge in the ED, we increased the amount of physician coverage in September.

We are also asking patients and families about their experience while in the ED.  We receive feedback from about 1,000 people a month through these surveys. This information is shared with our front line teams delivering care so that we can make any adjustments necessary to improve service.

We’re also conducting surveys with ED patients upon discharge.  This feedback gets shared with our front-line staff in real time so that we know what our patients want and we can make changes quickly and respond to what matters most to you.

I always point people to the ED video we created earlier this year.  It’s a great way to familiarize people with the ED so they understand what happens there on a typical day.

Service excellence is a priority for Osler.  I’m proud of the way we’ve been making progress and I look forward to continuing to improve and enhance our services in the time to come.