General Express June 2017

Partnering to improve care of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

icon with blurb partnershipsTwo 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 2 web
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.

COPD historical data web COPD recent data web

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.

Linking Survivors with Survivors 2
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

Volunteer of the year 2017 web
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

therapy dog web

A much-anticipated, pet therapy program has begun. Volunteer Charlotte (right) and her dog Layla are now visiting Surgery and Medicine inpatients on Thursdays from 6 – 7 p.m. So far, there’s been lots of positive feedback from staff, patients and their families.

Rebekah Larter, Elder Life Specialist (left), is organizing this patient-friendly initiative. She says a second team will be joining soon and will be coming in Tuesdays mornings from 10 - 11 a.m.

GGH Snapshots (click on photo to enlarge)

Nurses' Week Festivities

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At the Nurses Week dinner was a Survivor-themed photo booth. Not sure which member of the Senior Leadership Team (above) was going to be eliminated but it might have been Dr. Caspers or Suzanne Bone who are missing from the picture. Getting ready for the next round to see who gets voted off the island are (l-r) Gavin Webb, VP Finance and Chief Information Officer, Marianne Walker, President and CEO, Gail Johnson, VP Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive and Rod Carroll, VP HR and Support Services. During Nurses' Week, a "Survivor Challenge" was held based on the popular TV show. Working in teams, the contestants had to do a variety of challenges as they were timed. Above (l-r), Kim Towes, Jenny Griffin and Melissa Skinner attempt to fill a urine bottle while blindfolded. 

 The game, "Operation", is hard enough but when having the added challenge of wearing thick work gloves, the task becomes even harder. Jen Longo and Marianne Walker (left) keep a close eye on Joyce Rolph's team seeing if they can pick up on any tips when their time comes.

Scenes from the Decontamination Exercise held with the Guelph Fire Department

On June 28, the Hospital held a mock decontamination exercise in partnership with the Guelph Fire Department. The "disaster" included numerous victims who were exposed to a hazardous substance. The exercise was a great success and presented many learning opportunities. 
putting on mask web putting up decontam tent web first patient web 
 decontam shower2 web hosing off web  doffing gear web 


Foundation logo
The Foundation reached a $50 million milestone in its 2016-17 fiscal year

Since The Foundation of Guelph General was founded in 1987, over $50 million has been generously donated.

Knowing that the overall tally was getting close to this milestone figure, The Foundation’s CEO, Suzanne Bone, had been keeping an eye on the numbers. It wasn’t until preparing the year-end financial statements and the annual fund transfer to the Hospital that she realized this milestone had been reached.

After doing some digging into the Foundation’s donor database, it was discovered that what tipped the Foundation's now 29-year tally over this significant figure was a donation of $50,000 from the Guelph Lion’s Club, received on Valentine’s Day, 2017.

“This is an incredible milestone. It represents 87,708 donations, 22,694 caring donors, and thousands upon thousands of lives saved and changed at our Hospital through our community’s generosity,” said Bone who has worked at the Foundation since 1991. “I still feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation each and every year.”

Donations have a direct impact on the quality of care the Hospital is able to deliver, said GGH President and CEO Marianne Walker. “Our donors’ generosity helps support our exceptional staff by providing them with the tools, equipment and space they need to provide high quality care and a positive experience for patients and their families. We’re also able to invest in the resources needed to meet the growing needs of the community we serve.”

Every dollar that the Foundation transfers to the Hospital is used to purchase essential patient care equipment. Over the years, 82 cents of every dollar raised has gone directly to helping our Hospital.

Suzanne Bone FGGH CEO and Bob Carter GGH Board Chair with cutline web

There have been a number of significant campaigns along the way including:

  • Scanning for Guelph Wellington - $2 million raised for our first CT Scanner
  • Dialysis…Closer to Home - $750,000 raised for local dialysis services
  • Partners for Better Health - $12 million raised for GGH and St. Joseph’s
  • MRI & More - $6 million raised for an MRI scanner, our Emergency Department and our Vascular Surgery Suite

However, donors have helped fund thousands of pieces of patient care equipment, large and small.

Last year, the Hospital was able to replace three of its ultrasound machines with new state-of the art ultrasound technology. The image quality made possible a new weekly Breast Assessment Clinic to help confirm breast cancer more quickly.

In 2015 all of the Hospital’s IV Pumps were replaced through $1.6 million of cumulative gifts. The new pumps have many advanced safety features which help eliminate preventable harm for patients.

Basic equipment needs are also met with community support: ceiling-mounted procedure lights, defibrillators, hospital beds, patient lifts and even a temporal thermometer for the Paediatrics Department. These items are just as vital to quality patient care.

It took 29 years to raise $50 million, but as the community grows, so too do the patient care needs at our Hospital.

Over the next five years, the Foundation has an ambitious goal to raise approximately $20 million.

The extra funds are needed for a number of significant projects related to the Emergency Department, Special Care Nursery, advancing diagnosis, and other equipment that ensures caregivers have the equipment and technology needed to save lives and improve health. 

“I am confident that our community will come together as it always has in the past,” commented Bone, when asked how she felt about this ambitious fundraising goal. “It’s been reported that Guelph is one of Canada’s most caring communities and that’s something I have witnessed over my 26-years with the Foundation. Every day I’m inspired by the generosity of our community.”