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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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.

Seven reasons why you need a flu vaccine

This week’s guest blog is from Joanne Flewwelling, Executive Vice President, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive

We can’t deny it any longer. The summer is over and fall is here. Even though I’m breaking out my cold weather wardrobe, I’m keeping one short sleeved shirt in the back of my closet for a specific purpose: getting vaccinated against the flu.

Vaccination is a personal choice. There are many reasons why I choose to get vaccinated and just as many reasons why others may not, but it’s difficult to argue with statistics. Receiving the flu vaccine helps to eliminate 30,000 visits to the emergency department, avoid 1,000 hospitalizations and prevent 300 deaths in Ontario. I encourage you to do your part in supporting a healthy community at work, at home and beyond.

Here are seven more reasons why it’s important for you to get vaccinated against the flu:

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There are many ways for you to get vaccinated against the flu. Visit a public health clinic in your community (Peel Region or City of Toronto), see your pharmacist at participating a pharmacy (like Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall), or make an appointment to see your family doctor.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also offers plenty of online resources to help you decide to get the flu vaccine.

We all have friends or family members are more at risk of complications from the flu, especially children and seniors. Let’s do our part in keeping our community healthy during flu season by getting vaccinated!