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 record setting start to 2016

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

While many people slowed down for the holiday season, the pace at Osler was ramping up as we set a new record for patient activity. On December 26, a record 455 patients come to the emergency department (ED) at Brampton Civic. That’s more than any other hospital in Ontario. Etobicoke General was also busy with significant volumes that peaked at 242 patient visits to the ED in a single day.

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.

By the official end of the two week surge period, we provided care to almost 24,000 patients. When we break it down, it looks like this:

Osler holiday surge infographic

High patient volumes are nothing new for us. Even though we are one of the busiest community hospitals in Canada, caring for this exceptionally large volume of patients is no easy feat. The way Osler staff, physicians and volunteers rallied in response should be acknowledged and commended.

In addition to managing the holiday surge, our teams have rallied to support the Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. There has been little impact to Osler from refugees arriving at Toronto Pearson airport but our surge planning ensured that we were ready to provide care to anyone who came through our doors.

I’m also pleased to report that we have received so many donations of winter clothing and personal hygiene items from staff that we are asking you to pause on further contributions at this time. As we take stock of the collected items, donations to support Syrian refugees can be made to United Way of Peel. Some hospital staff have taken donations one step further and fundraised to bring an entire family to Canada – a truly inspiring act of kindness!

The teamwork they displayed during this challenging time was tremendous. Thank you for going beyond to provide patient-inspired care without boundaries. Cheers to a job well done and to a successful new year!

Season’s Greetings from Osler!

With all the warm weather we’ve been having lately it may not feel like the holiday season, but it’s certainly here. At the end of each calendar year I can’t help but look back at the tremendous progress made at Osler over the last 12 months.

None of our achievements of the past year would have been possible without the inspiration and support from our patients and families; our dedicated staff, physicians and volunteers; our health care partners from across the region; and generous donors.

Thank you for making 2015 one of Osler’s most remarkable years yet!

This will be my final blog of the year. I wish you a very happy holiday season and I’ll see you again in the New Year!

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.

Season’s greetings from Osler!

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” Anthony J. D’Angelo, author and motivational speaker

What a year! The long list of milestones reached, achievements earned and partnerships forged at Osler over the last 12 months is nothing short of remarkable.

This incredible progress in delivering on our Vision of providing patient-inspired health care without boundaries would not be possible without the unwavering support of our community and partners.  For this, I heartily THANK YOU.

Osler is more than a health care system. It is a community.

Working together day-in and day-out builds the Osler community inside our walls. Outside, it is the support from patients and their families, our health care partners and generous donors that lift us up and challenge us to go beyond to provide extraordinary patient care.

As we say goodbye to another year, we have created a video message to spread a little holiday cheer to the Osler community. Keep your eyes peeled – you may recognize a few Osler elves that also have a message to share.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year!