Partnering to improve care of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Two years ago when the Hospital developing our Strategic Plan, we brought together a lot of information about the community we serve. Over 600 people were surveyed and interviewed and community health information from sources such as Statistics Canada was analyzed to give an overall view of the health of those living in Guelph and Wellington County. Generally speaking, it is a healthy community but it did have its health challenges. For example, people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) were returning to the Hospital after being discharged again and again, at a rate much higher than they should.
To Melissa Kwiatkowski, GGH’s now-former Director of Strategy and Risk Management, the numbers didn’t just mean extra pressure on the Hospital, they were a clear indication these patients weren’t getting the quality of care they needed. The Hospital reached out to the Guelph Family Health Team to partner and co-lead a community-wide process of understanding why this was happening and deciding what to do about it.
|COPD working group|
COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes clogged airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production and wheezing. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and other conditions.
The good news is COPD is treatable. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of other associated conditions. So, it was possible to do better but it was going to take more than just the Hospital’s effort.
To just get a handle on the current state of the care being provided across the community, and to start brainstorming possible improvements, three half-day sessions were hosted at the Hospital. Among those at the table were representatives from GGH, the Guelph Family Health Team, the Guelph Community Health Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph, the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) and Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Service (EMS -ambulance). From those meetings, gaps in care were identified and plans made to help close them.
Thanks to this amazing partnership, readmission rates have gone down 40% in just one year! – far exceeding even the most optimistic of predictions. “It’s been a fantastic coming together of all those involved, including patients and families,” says Melissa. “There’s still more to do but the progress that’s been made is quite remarkable.”
One of the significant changes made was simply making sure that COPD patients had an appointment booked with their primary care provider (such as their family physician) before leaving the Hospital. In addition to the follow-up appointment, the WWLHIN and EMS have partnered to pilot a program that provides some patients with vital signs monitoring devices to use in their homes. Those devices will automatically send messages to the paramedics when there is a problem. The paramedics will work with specialized nurses from the WWLHIN to support the patient staying at home instead of a trip to the hospital.
“Supporting an individual’s transition from hospital to Primary Care involves multiple providers and we could not have achieved these improvements by working in isolation,” says Ross Kirkconnell, Executive Director, Guelph Family Health Team.
Raechelle Devereaux, the Executive Director of the Guelph Community Health Centre echoed the partnership sentiment. “The work initiated by Guelph General Hospital has been an excellent example of how collective efforts result in collective impact,” she says. “Beyond reducing admissions, which our work together has certainly achieved, it has also resulted in strengthened relationships and an enhanced collaborative spirt across multiple organizations. If I could sum this up in a sentence, this effort has demonstrated that we are truly in this work together to advance better health outcomes for our clients.”
Hospital joins with local association to provide hope to new stroke patients
Linking Survivors With Survivors is a program of March of Dimes Canada. As it name says, it is a peer support program that provides hope and encouragement to stroke survivors and their families. The program’s specially-trained volunteers are now coming into an acute care hospital setting and GGH is the first in our Waterloo Wellington LHIN. Before, those meetings were usually done only after a patient had been discharged from hospital.
|Dan (left) and Sue (middle) are volunteer mentors. They're with three nurses from our Stroke Unit and Barbara Moore (right).|
So far, it’s been a great success says Barbara Moore from March of Dimes Canada. She credits the great teamwork they’ve experienced with the Hospital. She also has nothing but praise for her volunteers who go through a lengthy training process before becoming a peer-to-peer mentor. She admits there was some initial concern that newly diagnosed patients might not be ready to meet but that generally hasn’t been the experience of Dan Trotta and Sue Gillis – the two mentors who come on a weekly basis. Dan comes on Mondays and Sue on Thursdays. Both can easily relate to what GGH patients are going though.
Dan had spent months in hospital recovering from his stroke without such a program. He said the experience was very isolating and not something he wants others to go through. “People in acute care are invariably afraid,” he says. “They do tend to open up to me after I share my story.”
What he and Sue mostly provide is a sense of hope, says Sue. “We share our journey and provide encouragement.” The mentors also give out resource material including information about peer support groups in the community.
It’s been very well received by Hospital staff and a huge benefit to stroke patients, says Deb Hastings, Manager of the Stroke Unit. “It is helpful for the patients to hear from someone who has been there and shared the same story,” says Deb. “It is very supportive and provides that light at the end of the tunnel for patients and families as they adjust to their new normal in stroke recovery.”
Barbara says she hopes to expand the program and have mentors in every rehab facility.
Volunteer of the Year named
|On hand to present Mary with her award were (l-r) Laura Hutchings, Director Volunteer Services, Mary Taylor, Marianne Walker, GGH President and CEO along with last year's winner, Eleanor Harrison.|
At our annual volunteer appreciation luncheon to mark National Volunteer Week, the Hospital named its Mary Hales “Volunteer of the Year.” This year’s winner was Mary Taylor.
Mary has been a volunteer at GGH since the fall of 1991 and to date has over 1,900 volunteer hours. Mary previously volunteered in the coffee shop and she spent many years as a buyer for the Courtyard Boutique. Currently, Mary volunteers in the Courtyard Boutique twice a month. She is also a top ticket seller for the Volunteer Association’s Annual Card Party Fundraiser.
The Guelph General Hospital Volunteer Association goes back over 119 years and is constantly expanding. Now, it has over 275 volunteers who provide support for 14 services throughout the Hospital. Our volunteers contribute in excess of 17,500 hours of service each year.
The majority of the money the association raises is through the Courtyard Boutique, HELPP Lottery and Vendor program with proceeds going back to the Hospital to purchase patient equipment.
Did you know, the Volunteer Association:
- Provides Angel Pins for each patient upon completion of their Chemotherapy Treatment
- Provides afghans for patients in many areas of the hospital (i.e. chemotherapy, palliative, dialysis etc.).
- Donated $40,000 in 2016 to the Foundation to purchase an Air Glider Transfer System for bariatric patients in the ED, a Digital Visual Activity Tester and Procedure Light for Ambulatory Care and a Specialized Wound Therapy Machine for Surgery
- Has donated over $1.4 million to the Foundation.
- Gives a $500 bursary to the 4th year Nursing Student from McMaster/Conestoga College from Guelph Wellington with the highest Grade point average.
Pet therapy program already bringing many smiles across the Hospital
GGH Snapshots (click on photo to enlarge)