General Express May 2014


Guelph daycare worker finishes chemotherapy and is met with a surprise

Daycare worker Brenda Summers was overwhelmed as she walked out of her final chemotherapy session in April. Gathered in our main lobby were over 40 children and staff of Parkview Daycare where she works. The children had waited patiently for their beloved daycare worker to finish her chemotherapy.

“The staff at Guelph General Hospital have been amazing,” Brenda said. “We really have great kids at Parkview and wonderful staff members. It felt so great to see them all waiting for me.”

In preparing for the surprise, the Daycare had approached the Hospital to assist with getting some media coverage to help raise cancer awareness.

Patiently waiting And waiting... And waiting... Here comes Brenda!
Getting closer Flowers from the heart Helping them understand Never letting go

Healthy Hospital Employee Survey now underway

In our last survey in 2012, we achieved a record-breaking response rate of over 81%!

The Healthy Hospital Employee Survey (HHES) is part of our overall goal to create a healthier workplace and healthier employees at GGH! The survey asks questions about your thoughts about Guelph General Hospital, your job satisfaction, interprofessional collaboration, behaviours in the workplace and your ideas about what would help to establish a healthier workplace. Every employee will be asked to fill out the survey. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and is completely confidential. Every employee’s opinion is important and that it why you will be able to work with your Director/Supervisor to ensure that you are able to find 15 minutes of your work day to complete the survey.

Here are some things to remember:

  • EVERY employee who fills out a survey will receive a coffee voucher
  • You will be able to complete the survey online (doing parts at a time, or all at once)
  • Your will not need to put your name on the survey
  • All the information from the survey is kept at Metrics@Work and will be part of a confidential database; no one at Guelph General Hospital sees the individual completed surveys
  • The results of the survey will be reported in-group form only
  • Participants will be able to provide their name or use a ballot number in order to ensure confidentiality and still be eligible for prizes

Senior Management fully supports the HHES and is committed to sharing the organizational results to both employees and the Board of Trustees. Departmental results will be shared in the Fall of 2014 and each department will establish two goals to work on based on the results. In other words, the survey is just the beginning. We will continue to need your voice, your thoughts and your feedback as we move forward with the survey results.

Bariatric surgeries changing lives

In 10 months, Mark Watson lost 240 lbs thanks to bariatric surgery at GGH.

GGH is one of five provincial Centres of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery. It can be life changing for those patients and we recently got an email from a grateful patient who happily agreed to share his story:

Hey there how's it going? I just thought I would send you an update. Things are amazing, life has never been so great. I finally got my dream job working at a Toyota dealership as a car detailer which I have always wanted to do but at 485 lbs it was not going to happen !!

So, I started in June of 2012 at 485lbs. When I came to see you guys I was 459 lbs which was November 2012. Today my weight is 245 lbs which gives me a total loss of 240 lbs !!!

I have leveled off and don’t think I want to go much smaller , my muscle mass is growing amazingly due to my job is so physically demanding and my son and I work out on a regular basis. Please pass this message around if you wish to anyone who would be interested.

Thanks for everything you have all done. Forever grateful, Mark Watson.

Tackling a massive rewiring challenge

Before After

After years of upgrading to our network infrastructure bit by bit (or byte by byte!), Rohan Singh in IT was tasked with taming the wild beast that was our Level 3 switching room. He had to do it gradually since with all the critical departments on Level 3, the area can’t be just shut down for a period of time. He began his daunting task last August and just this week did the final testing of his handiwork.

“Every year we ask for funding to upgrade network switches at GGH,” Ro said. “As technology needs increase, so does the requirement of up-to-date networking infrastructure, basically provide more lanes on our data highway.”

In order to move forward, Ro had to put new cables which are certified (guaranteed to work and transmit data at a specific speed) and purchase the proper length to avoid a mess and only connect what is required.

Nice job Ro!

HELP program continues to benefit patients and staff

When it comes to the mental well-being of elderly patients, small actions can have large impact. Activities such as Snakes and Ladders, viewing personal photographs or reading the news may seem to have little benefit in the world of health care. However, when paired with highly trained volunteers and backed by a well-defined program, these deeds can potentially prevent an elderly patient from deteriorating mentally. Our Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) was developed to prevent hospital-induced, mental confusion – also called delirium – from setting in. In some cases, HELP has even allowed these patients to return home – something that delirium may have prevented in the past.

One of our highly trained HELP volunteers, Irene Hearn shows some of the items used to engage elderly patients.

Each of the 35 volunteers who make up the year-old program have witnessed firsthand the power of companionship and support. HELP volunteer Irene Hearn says she has witnessed apathy turn to interest, sadness to smiles and anger to calm during her time spent conversing, playing games or working through exercise routines with patients.

“A hospital day can be long and lonely,” Hearn says. “Even a short visit from a HELP volunteer can shorten the day and reassure the patient that, in spite of today’s health challenges, he or she is still connected to the outside world.”

It’s not only the patients benefitting from the program, staff are too.

“Staff report that patients enrolled in the HELP program exhibit less anxiety during their hospital stay,” says Patricia Mlekuz, Director Medicine. “Staff also say patients are more alert and interactive after a visit from a HELP volunteer.”

According to the official HELP website, billions of dollars in excess health care costs are required per year due to the deteriorating mental effects of delirium. This cost, along with morbidity and sometimes mortality, stems from a seemingly preventable and correctable problem – disruption of daily routines which causes disorientation and confusion. By simply meeting and monitoring basic human needs – vision and hearing, hydration, toileting, mobility, and medicine – these costs can usually be avoided.

Although the solution is simple, hospitals rarely have the resources to fully accommodate the less urgent needs of elderly patients. As a result, they rely on volunteers who are willing to spend time with these patients.

Rebekah Larter, our Elder Life Specialist says she is thrilled with the number of volunteers that “give all their energy” to interacting with senior patients. However, according to Larter more volunteers are always needed since without them, “the program could not go on.”

Evolving technology changing "bricks and mortar" in Clinical Information Services

Director Valerie Anderson (front) stands with the minority of her staff who still work onsite. Most work from home thanks to new technology. The large metal shelves behind them which used to hold patient records have now been removed.

Clinical Information Services (CIS) Director Valerie Anderson has been at GGH for 31 years. 

"I’ve witnessed many technological advances in CIS and how the staff have successfully embraced the changes.”

  • In 1986, large mobile shelving units were installed. The volume of paper patient records was increasing and more physical storage space was needed. The department was filled with records with CIS staff busy processing and coding patient records. In 1994 the Hospital entered the electronic patient record world with Meditech.
  • In 1997, the medical transcriptionists started working remotely from home. 
  • In 2006, we started scanning patient records after discharge.
  • In 2012, the CIS coders started working remotely from home.
  • In April 2014, the large mobile shelving units were removed. 

"With the successful transition to electronic records, 65% of CIS staff are now able to work from home and the hospital will have two new meetings room. A true win-win combination," says Valerie.


Provincial Infection Control specialists invited in to review our practices

In mid-April, Public Health Ontario’s Infection Control Response Team came to the Hospital by invitation. After we recently had two C. diff outbreaks it was decided to have this highly qualified team come in and review our Infection Control practices. Although the final report won’t be here for another couple of weeks, the ICRT did provide early feedback.

One opportunity for improvement is to cease “the widespread eating and drinking in clinical areas.” Infection Control has already begun to provide education in the units regarding this.

Wendy James, Infection Prevention and Control (front right), leds the ICRT on a tour of the Hospital.  

Having the fastest MRI flow through in the province means quality care for our patients

Jennifer Verbaik, MRI Team Lead, credits the empowered staff and supportive work environment for the impressive results.

Learning that our MRI had the fastest flow-through time in the province is a great efficiency achievement but it’s more than about just numbers. In the end, it’s about providing quality care for our patients.

Fast “flow-through time” is a pretty abstract idea until it is experienced first-hand. Below is an excerpt from letter reprinted by permission from a recent MRI patient, Donna-Lee. She described her visit to GGH last November.

“I was quite nervous and apprehensive. From the minute I walked into the Diagnostic Imaging Department I calmed down. The lady at the registration desk was very pleasant and immediately put me at ease. I no sooner sat down and a technician came and took me to a change and waiting area.

“After changing she took me to another room to go over some questions and again asked me to wait and we wouldn’t be too long. As soon as the lady ahead of me finished I was whisked into the room with the MRI equipment and after further instructions we were off to the races. Please note that this was about ten minutes before my procedure which just amazed me. During the whole process the two techs were very aware of me and how I was doing. In what seemed no time at all I was done and on my way again ahead of schedule.

“I just wanted to let you know that my whole experience at your hospital was the best I have ever had. Everyone was pleasant and there was no backlog of patients. Many other hospitals should be taking a lesson from your excellent staff as to how a facility should be operated.

“Many thanks to you and your staff for a job well done and continue the good work.”

Community recognition for the efforts of staff and a volunteer at GGH

This year GGH won the United Way’s Joint Union/Management Award which recognizes an organization that has a strong partnership between union and management and shows this in the success of their workplace campaign. Congratulations to our campaign committee including chairs Tina Tremelling (left) and Kathy Carpino!

Recently, Michelle Bott, Senior Director, was a recipient of a Rehab Awards of Excellence. The award recognizes her contributions to the Waterloo Wellington Rehabilitative Care System.

Congratulations Michelle!

Student Hospital volunteer Naythrah Thevathasan recently won a prestigious award at the University of Guelph. She received the Lin Coburn Award. It is presented annually to the Peer Helper on campus who has demonstrated commitment to their academic studies, been consistently involved in other campus and community activities and maintained a healthy balance among all his/her interests and involvements.

Until recently, Naythrah volunteered in our Emergency Department. Now after graduating this semester with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, she’s off to Queens to pursue a Masters in Public Health. Congratulations Naythrah!


A new way to support GGH – it’s as easy as riding a bike!

Join us on Sunday July 6 for the first annual Tour de Guelph. Participants can choose from five-, 10-, 25-, 50- and 100-kilometre routes, all starting and finishing at the University of Guelph. The longer routes will take experienced riders off campus and through the countryside, offering unique challenges along the way. For less experienced riders and young children, shorter routes will remain within the campus.

The Rotary Clubs of Guelph South and Guelph Trillium are planning the event, along with The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital. Proceeds will primarily benefit the Hospital, but also each Rotary Club.

There will be an entry fee and riders are encouraged to collect pledges. Check out for more information.