Celebrating 100 blog posts (and counting)

I can’t believe that this is my 100th blog post to the community! Over the last 3.5 years I’ve had the privilege of sharing some of Osler’s most remarkable moments with you.

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From the launch of our Strategic Plan to showcasing clinical innovations to highlighting our work with health system partners, we’ve had quite the ride and we can only go further from here. While we’ve touched on a number of topics over the years, a few have struck a real chord with readers. Here’s a little flashback to some of the posts that have resonated most with you:

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on the amazing work done by Osler’s staff, physicians and volunteers every single day. I take great pride in sharing these achievements with you and challenging some of the traditional thinking around the delivery of health care in the community.

I’m not the only one who thinks we have a lot to share. On the heels of another busy holiday surge, a crew from CBC recently visited the emergency department (ED) at Brampton Civic to showcase our facility while exploring alternative care options for non-critical patients at Urgent Care Centres in the community.

As one of the busiest EDs in Canada, our teams are constantly working provide patient-inspired care to a high volume of patients in a fast-paced environment while making changes to improve the experience for everyone who receives or provides care.

  • Nurse Practitioners in acute areas of the ED and the addition of more physician hours are helping us to better manage patient volumes, reduce wait times and shorten length of stay.
  • With our community partners at Peel Regional Police, Osler is working to decrease offload times and transfer of accountability for Mental Health patients in the ED so officers can return to the community faster.
  • Displaying wait times at nursing stations in the Ambulatory Treatment Centres (ATC) is helping to improve collaboration and problem solving around patient flow.
  • Our new ED Patient Experience Team is a dedicated resource that offers comfort and enhanced communications to patients, families and visitors waiting for treatment.

While we continue to make improvements to the programs and services provided at Osler, we are looking forward to the opening of Peel Memorial in the not too distant future. This new facility will provide even more care options, including an Urgent Care Centre, for the Brampton community.

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We’ve reached new heights at Peel Memorial – literally!

This week we celebrated ‘Topping off’ at the Peel Memorial site, a momentous milestone in any construction project and certainly a significant and exciting one for Osler and its community.

Topping off is recognized when the full height of the building is reached and the ‘ceremony’ is an age-old tradition that dates back to the days of the Vikings from Scandinavia, prominently featuring an evergreen tree. While it may sound strange, this meaningful custom is a goodwill gesture for the safe completion of construction and is said to ‘bring life into the building’. It is seen as a positive omen to all those involved in its construction.

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During Thursday’s event, we also had an opportunity to celebrate a $2.5 million donation – a gift to Osler Foundation from Mr. Sajjad Ebrahim and family. This is the single, largest gift from a family to health care in Brampton to date. The Ebrahim family’s gift will be matched by Orlando Corporation’s $15M Matching Challenge, resulting in $5M for Peel Memorial. We are grateful for this generous gift that will help ensure the community continues to have access to great health care, close to home.

We’re also reaching new milestones at Etobicoke General. To prepare the existing building for expansion, we’re set to begin a series of Early Works projects to upgrade many of our mechanical systems later this summer. In the meantime, we’re wrapping up the parking upgrades to the east of the building as we continue the design consultation process with the three teams selected to bid on constructing the new four-storey wing.

There is so much to look forward to as we work to change the face of Osler and positively impact the delivery of health care in the communities we serve. We will keep you up to date with each new milestone!

Osler is the Patient Experience

At Osler, we have more than 750,000 patient interactions each year. Each encounter presents an opportunity for us to deliver high-quality, patient-inspired care.

Last week was Patient Experience Week, an annual world-wide event created by our friends at The Beryl Institute. It gave us a chance to celebrate Osler’s accomplishments, reenergize our efforts to put patients and families first, and honour the staff, physicians and volunteers who impact patient experience every day. Our service excellence team visited each of our sites to thank everyone for working so hard to create memorable patient experiences.

There is also a lot going on behind the scenes to support our front lines to deliver great care. From engaging with our Patient Advisory Committees to increasing visibility of our patient relations team in key units to expanding our post-discharge call centre across the Central West region, we are constantly looking for new ways to put patients at the centre of their care.

Earlier this year I wrote about how I’m Living the Vision at Osler. Since that post, this idea has taken off across the organization and when I heard the following story I knew I needed to share it with you.

A patient was recently admitted to the orthopaedic unit at Etobicoke General after falling in the Dominican Republic, where she was preparing to attend her daughter’s wedding. The injury was serious enough that she had to return to Canada for treatment and miss the wedding. We frequently repatriate patients from all over the world, but what happened next is truly remarkable.

The clinical team was so moved by this patient’s story that they rallied to find a way for her to attend the wedding virtually through Skype. An iPad was borrowed from the emergency department and a social worker, with no connection to the patient or program, stayed with the patient to help coordinate the video connection that allowed her to see her daughter get married. Needless to say, the patient’s family was overjoyed that the care team was able to make this happen.

Stories like this make me so proud of Osler’s incredible staff who really take our Vision of providing patient-inspired health care without boundaries to heart.

We also wrapped up another successful Be a Donor month, which Osler celebrated with Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN).

Over the past year, Osler’s successful organ and tissue donation program has helped to save more than 50 lives!

We helped start the conversation about the importance of organ and tissue donation by asking 700 Osler staff, physicians and volunteers to register as donors. Remember, just two minutes can help save up to eight lives.

For three years running, Osler continues to be a diversity leader

We’ve been waiting for it and it’s here. Spring is in the air and I can’t wait to say “good riddance” to Old Man Winter! One of the things I love most about spring – aside from putting away my snow shovel – is watching my garden come to life. The way that so many different ferns and flowers can thrive together in the same environment reminds me just how wonderful diversity is.

At Osler, we celebrate the diversity of our staff and the community we serve. We take pride in our commitment to meet the individual needs of our patients and foster an organizational culture that upholds dignity and equity for all. After all, diversity is embedded in our values – Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Diversity, and Innovation – and is at the centre of all we do.

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I am thrilled to announce that Osler has reached another milestone along our diversity journey – we were recently named one of the Best Diversity Employers in Canada for the third year in a row! This honour is bestowed upon organizations who have demonstrated exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. This achievement is a testament to our unwavering commitment to patient-inspired health care and creating a workplace that truly embraces individuality.

Being located in one of the most diverse regions of Ontario, we believe that one of the best ways to serve our population is to equip our staff with the skills they need to provide patients with a respectful, inclusive, yet individualistic experience. Creating an environment that is welcoming and equitable for all is an important step in achieving this.

Our Global Health Program is an example of our commitment in this area. Later this month, Osler is participating in an exploratory tour to the Punjab region in India, where a small clinical team will meet with several hospitals and non-governmental organizations to better understand how we can partner with local health care providers to create innovative programs that address specific health challenges and explore ways Osler can help achieve health equity in our own local community.

I am very proud of our team at Osler and their tremendous dedication to creating an inclusive workplace for each other and the community we serve.

How to be a Community Leader in 3 Easy Steps

Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking to more than 200 guests at the State of the City luncheon hosted by the Brampton Board of Trade. I was honoured to join Mayor Linda Jeffrey and Peel Region Police Chief Jennifer Evans as we gave an economic update to the business community.

Our collective presentations provided a good indicator of challenges and opportunities facing the city and our region. While there were a lot of wonderful insights shared during the luncheon, one of the main takeaways from the meeting came from Mayor Jeffrey: “We have all the right ingredients for long-term success.”

Osler is an essential part of that recipe for success and there are three things that we can do as leaders to help build a sustainable health care system now and for the future.

  1. Don’t fear change, embrace it.

Change was one of the biggest themes of the day and in the coming years, we can expect a lot of it. As I walk around the units of Osler hospitals I can see the early signs of change in the types of patients who come to us for care. Here is a snapshot of how the demographics of our region have changed, and how they will continue to change, over the next decade:

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These numbers mean that we need to change the way we deliver health care in our community in order to create a sustainable health care system that can support the increasing demands for chronic and acute health care. Osler is meeting these challenges by shifting our clinical priorities to accommodate the changing needs of the communities we serve.

We are also placing a tremendous amount of energy renewing and redeveloping our spaces at Peel Memorial and Etobicoke General so we can provide high-quality care now and well into the future.

  1. There’s no “I” in team.

If two heads are better than one when generating new ideas, three heads are definitely better than two. Earlier this year, we formalized a bold new strategic partnership with the Central West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Headwaters Health Care Centre (Headwaters). This regional approach to health care planning is designed to put patients and families first by strengthening the system and finding new and better ways of working together.

It’s a first in the province of Ontario and others will be looking to us as leaders, setting the example of how to collectively strengthen the delivery of health care across our region. Aligning our resources will allow us to:

  • Promote further collaboration;
  • Identify joint investment opportunities;
  • Navigate system-level planning; and,
  • Improve our combined ability to meet the health care needs of our community.

Relying on the expertise of our partners builds a stronger bond and creates a more efficient way of operating in a challenging environment.

  1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You’ve likely heard the adage “slow and steady wins the race.” I agree that a thoughtful and well-paced approach to change is the best way to achieve success in health care. The only difference is that the race never truly ends, we just keep adapting to new realities as they appear.

When faced with significant change Osler has reacted with a measured approach. We have started to lay the groundwork for a strategic shift from avoidable emergency visits and unscheduled patient admissions to scheduled outpatient appointments. Our five-year Strategic Plan continues to serve as the roadmap for how we will evolve health care in our community to achieve our Vision to deliver patient-inspired health care without boundaries.

What does it mean to “live the vision” at Osler?

As the CEO of one of Ontario’s largest community hospital systems, it’s important for me to have a 30,000 foot view of everything that goes on at Osler. However, as we continuously work to enhance the patient experience at Osler, I’ve been focussing on establishing a deeper, more direct connection with the patients and families that we serve.

Our Vision to provide patient-inspired health care without boundaries is at the heart of everything we do at Osler. It’s the inspiration behind Living the Vision, a new initiative that gives me the very rewarding opportunity to meet and to get to know some of the patients that come to Osler for care.

Living the Vision is an opportunity to learn more about our patients as people rather than focusing on the reasons for their stay at Osler. Each month I’m invited to visit a clinical unit to meet with patients and families. It is a way to really connect with those we serve so we can better understand the needs of our community.

It is also an opportunity to learn. I gain valuable insight into how we are meeting the needs of patients and families, and hear first-hand about all of the great work that is going on in the organization. At the end of each visit I always debrief with the staff to share what was heard and discuss any learnings that can help to improve the patient experience.

When patients come to a hospital for care, they aren’t often at their best. I’ve seen how a quick conversation and a simple “how are you doing today?” can immediately brighten their outlook. These small moments of kindness are what people remember most and have the power to change their health care experience.

I hear a lot of stories during my visits, but there is a common thread that runs through each and every one: the wonderful care they are receiving at Osler. It is truly inspiring to see the first-hand impact that our staff, physicians and volunteers have on the experience of patients and families.

Now that you know how I do it, how are you Living the Vision at Osler?

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.