General Express November 2017

A half century of caring

When GGH’s Frankie Hammond, RN, began her career as a fresh-faced 21 year old, Canada was celebrating its centennial. The year was 1967 and Frankie was embarking on a career that would span over half a century. Now, with 2017 drawing to a close, Frankie is about to retire from a career she loves.

Cindy Frankie web
Frankie (right) was recently honoured in our Foundation's "Monday Motivators" along with coworker Cindy Good. Together, they have nearly 90 years of experience!

“It’s been like a blink of the eye,” she says, yet looking back it is clear it has been a journey filled with profound changes.

Frankie went to St. Joe’s school of nursing and lived in residence with “wonderful classmates”, house mothers and curfews. Like all her classmates, she did get weekend passes at times. However, if she wasn’t going home to her parents she would have to leave the name, address and number of where she was staying. It wasn’t always strict though. “We held a dance every month and never knew who would show up. They were really fun.”

As was the practice at the time, the students wore uniforms. At St. Joes they had a white bib and apron over a blue dress. The dress and apron had to come to two inches below the knee and they were checked and measured. Shoes were white and “Cuban heeled.” All in all, the outfit was not the most comfortable. “The bibs were starched and cut into your neck. They had wide straps that crossed in the back. There was a collar that was supposed to keep the straps from rubbing but they didn't.”

The iconic white caps were only given out once exams were passed. It was a big deal at which parents attended. Before then, the students were part of the "staff" in the hospital in the mornings in class in the afternoons. At that time the nurses were responsible for terminal cleaning of the beds when someone went home so it was high on Frankie’s list of duties.

The training to become a nurse was much different than today. “We had three-month blocks of training in all areas – Paeds, OB, psych (Homewood). We stayed in residence at Homewood for the three months and at the TB sanatorium at Chedoke in Hamilton for another three.”

“I enjoyed the OR. I started my three months on the Tuesday after Labour Day. In the OR the students would be assigned to the evening shift which meant you were on call for that night. The students would be the scrub nurse and the RN the circulating nurse. I was the first in our group to be on evenings and started on the Friday of that first week. So, I had only three days to learn all the set ups – yikes!”

“I was nervous but found it very exciting and luckily had a good memory for the names of the instruments. My first evening and on call night did not disappoint. I had big and interesting surgeries.”

Not surprisingly, the practice of nursing has greatly changed over the course of her career. “So many things have changed and a lot of our practice then sounds unbelievable now.” For example, they used to keep cataract surgery patients in bed with sand bags to keep their head still for two weeks. “A lot of them developed clots.” Also, in the early days of giving chemotherapy the nurses mixed the potentially toxic drugs in the lounge or lunch room.  “What did we know???”

Throughout her career, new methods were being developed all the time and she was always learning something new. She remembers once being given a little paperback book that was about procedure so new and radical only doctors were allowed to perform it. It was CPR. “I wish I had saved that book.”

Unlike nowadays, much of the equipment back then was reused. Glass syringes, and the needles that attached to them, were cleaned and re-sterilized. The glass plungers of the syringes came out of the barrel and were wrapped separately in green cloths for autoclaving. “Hopefully, you got a set that fit well together. If the plunger was loose it could slide out accidentally after you drew up your medication.”

While nursing has obviously changed a lot since she began she’s grateful her education included so much hands-on activity. “The nurses today are educated far beyond what we were I think. But, we had daily experience in the hospital. So for that first day on the job as an RN - it's what we had been doing for three years.”

After 50 years of providing care, what’s her secret of having such a lengthy career she still enjoys? “I love being around the young, eager nurses. I love their enthusiasm. It has kept me young.”

In some ways it’s hard to believe but at the end of December Frankie will hang up her stethoscope for the last time. “It’s hard giving up something you love to do. I will miss you all.”

Frankie et al web Frankie (fourth from left) at the recent Long Term Service awards along with others being recognized for their years of service to the Hospital.

An advanced way to identify and categorize possible infections now in our lab

If a patient at the Hospital is suspected to have an infection, the traditional way of identifying its cause was to take a sample, send it to the lab, grow it for two or three days then try to identify the microorganism under a microscope. With its latest piece of equipment, the Hospital’s lab is now able to zap a sample with a laser and have the results within minutes.

john explaining advantages web
At a donor-recognition event, John Tarbush, Chief Techologist, Microbiology (left), explains some of the advantages of having the new high-tech machine.

The machine, MALDI-TOF (Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization – time of flight), blasts the sample into a million bits of protein then compares it against a database of protein profiles to make a final identification in just 50 minutes. The quality of the identification is state of the art and results in improved patient care. Before, the Hospital’s microbiology lab used to grow about 50,000 cultures a year to help identify microorganisms causing patient infections. It was an expensive, time-consuming process.

suzanne bone with photo of machines interior web
Foundation CEO, Suzanne Bone, holds up a photo of the interior of the machine to show those in attendance. Once the machine was set up, it couldn't be opened in order to avoid any contamination.

The Hospital was aware of the machine’s benefits even before it was purchased. Last year, the Hospital borrowed the use of a similar machine at the Ontario Veterinary Hospital at the University of Guelph. One of the Hospital’s medical units was experiencing an above normal level of c. Diff infections.

“We were very concerned,” said Dr. Jennifer Caspers, GGH’s Chief of Staff. The patients went into isolation and whether or not to declare an official outbreak was being considered.

Thanks to the generous offer from OVC, samples of the patients’ c. Diff were analyzed using its MALDI-TOF. The results showed the bacteria from each patient weren’t exactly the same which meant the organism wasn’t being spread within the unit. The declaration of an outbreak – along with all its repercussions such as restricted visiting and enhanced cleaning – was avoided.

“Our medical staff and nurses breathed a sigh of relief,” Dr. Caspers said.

The $250,000 purchase of the MALDI-TOF was made possible by generous donors though the Foundation’s Circle of Life collective philanthropy program. “Circle of Life donors were excited by this project - the innovation, the positive impact on our patients, and the efficiency gains for the Hospital,” commented Foundation CEO and Circle of Life member Suzanne Bone.

Introducing our new Diagnostic Imaging Director

Recently, Mike Lindsay joined GGH as our Diagnostic Imaging Director. He brings with him a wealth of experience and since arriving has discovered a department firing on all cylinders.

Mike Lindsay web“I lucked into having a very strong team and I’ve heard from many people that ‘the DI crew is great!’ and I’ve seen it over and over,” Mike says. “Peers from outside the organization are telling me how great Guelph is and they are happy I’m here. In just a few weeks I’ve received several letters or e-mails complimenting my tremendous staff. It makes me very proud of my department but more importantly it makes me very happy in my decision to come to GGH.”

Mike has 30 years as an imaging professional. For 12 years, he was at Trillium Health Centre looking over the Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Urgent Care Centre. Prior to the merger with Credit Valley Hospital he served as the Director of DI at both organizations with the mandate of investigating merger opportunities. Outside of his hospital responsibilities, Mike has spent six years on the board of the Ontario Association of Radiology Managers (OARM). In 2015 he received its the Gold Trillium Award in 2015 for outstanding commitment and dedication.

So far his experience at GGH is been a positive one. “I’ve realized that there are a great many things this organization is doing better than everyone else. The onboarding experience was great, the tools and systems required are readily available and in most cases superior to offerings elsewhere. I’ve noticed there is a palpable pride and genuine friendliness amongst the staff.”

Welcome Mike!

HELP celebrates five years at GGH

At a recent open house, the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) marked five years since it launched at the Hospital.

HELP is an evidence-based, innovative way to improve hospital care for older patients. It is designed to detect, prevent and manage functional decline and delirium in seniors while they are in hospital.

HELP relies heavily on its highly trained volunteers. Activities such as checkers or dominoes, viewing personal photographs or reading the news may seem to have little benefit in the world of health care. However, when paired with qualified volunteers and backed by a well-defined program, these actions can potentially prevent an elderly patient from deteriorating mentally while in hospital.

Happy birthday HELP!

HELP celebration web HELP stats
Corrie Bradfield (left), our Elder Life Specialist while Rebekah Larter is on maternity leave, stands with Lana Black, RN, Geriatric Emergency Management, in front of a display with photos of of just some of our HELP volunteers. Since it was launched in October 2012, HELP has had a significant presence in the Hospital as illustrated in the above chart.

Addiction Counsellors offering a wide variety of services and supports

As part of the Emergency Mental Health and Addiction Services umbrella, the Addictions Counsellors work as a part of the interdisciplinary Urgent Care Services Team. Addictions Counselling services are available to patients of the Guelph General Hospital through the Mental Health Clinicians in the Emergency Department and Short Stay Assessment Unit as well as the Consult Liaison.

Madison is one of the Addictions Counsellors providing support at GGH.

The support Addictions Counsellors can provide includes, but is not limited to:

  • Providing client-centered support to individuals dealing with significant addiction concerns, inclusive of a harm reduction approach (through both 1:1 brief counselling and groups)
  • Providing crisis intervention, de-escalation and conduct ongoing clinical risk assessment
  • Providing individual counselling utilizing evidence-informed practices including (but not limited to) Motivational Interviewing, Stage-Matched Intervention, Trauma-Informed approaches, Brief Solution-focused Therapy, CBT and DBT informed approaches
  • Engaging in collaborative treatment planning to successfully identify problematic behaviours associated with or contributing to the clients substance use and provide support to manage more effectively in the community
  • Collaborate and laisse with external community services to help provide holistic, comprehensive, wrap-around care for the individual
  • Providing support and consultation to Guelph General Hospital staff regarding substance use, withdrawal, harm reduction, risk management and the overall support of individuals who use substances
  • Facilitating groups and programs tailored to individuals who use substance and identify at any stage of change

The overarching goal of the Addiction Counselling support is to provide appropriate, empathetic, non-judgmental and respectful care urgently to individuals identifying any sort of problematic substance use while ultimately helping the client to increase their quality of life and decrease the time spent in crisis and in hospital.

Providing a safe working environment for staff is a top priority

Recently, there have been several recent media reports about workplace violence in healthcare.

President and CEO, Marianne Walker says, “I want to take this opportunity to stress the importance of staff safety and the fact violence should never be tolerated or considered “part of the job”."

Workplace violence in healthcare is both a national, provincial and local issue.

“At our hospital, reducing staff harm as a result of patient actions is one of our strategic priorities. Over the past two years we have made significant investments in keeping our staff safe.”

These investments include:

  • Completion of a third party security audit and implementation of recommendations
  • Increased security staffing throughout the hospital
  • Crisis Intervention (CIT) and Gentle Persuasive Approach (GPA) skills; CIT training to focus on the skills needed to prevent and de-escalate potentially aggressive patients and GPA providing enhanced approaches to patients with dementia
  • Development of a “flagging policy” as a way to better alert staff of potential risks
  • Established Workplace Violence Awareness and Prevention Committee
  • Critical review of all incidents and an emphasis on shared learnings to prevent further incidents

“The causes of workplace violence are complex and we continue to focus on ways to better understand and prevent patient actions from occurring,” Marianne says. “We still have a way to go, but remain committed to preventing all staff harm at GGH.”

GGH Snapshots (click on photo to enlarge)

social committee packing goodie bags web mock disaster web dawn and mike web
Tis the Season!!!  Preparing for our 6th Annual Breakfast with Santa for employees, and their children and grandchildren!  Social Committee Members Jane Cabral, Wendy Broeckel, Deb de Boer and Fran Hood stuff the goodie bags for each of the children coming to the special event. On Nov. 23, we participated in a table top exercise of our Emergency Measures Incident Management System along with the City of Guelph (GGH IMS team above left). What made this scenario so interesting is that the City planned a different “event” and our “event” became part of their IMS.

The exercise was well planned by GGH and the City staff (above right - GGH's Dawn Miller and her City partner Dave Elloway). It was a realistic fire and evacuation scenario and the session went well with lots of new learnings. Our community partners were very impressed with how well our leadership team managed the different, challenging situations. 

 DDP yoga web Safety Fair 2017 web Privacy Matters
Confidential Conversations


Avoid speaking about confidential information in a public area. If this cannot be avoided, such as the nursing station, speak in a low voice and seek out a private area for any private conversation. Honouring privacy means respecting the patient.

For any privacy questions or concerns, you are welcome to contact Valerie Anderson, Chief Privacy Officer at ext 2273.

One of the events during October's Healthy Workplace Month was a demonstration by of DDP Yoga by our own Dr. Marcel Dore who is a certified instructor. 

According to its web site, DDP yoga combines the very best of yoga, old-school calisthenics, sports rehabilitation therapy and dynamic resistance to create one of the most effective fitness plans in existence today.

"Provide the safest and highest quality care" is one of our four strategic priorities. At the 10th Annual Safety Fair it was clear all departments are taking this priority very seriously.

The Safety Fair celebrates all the great work GGH does to keep its patients and staff safe. Almost 30 exhibits filled the auditorium to feature safety initiatives happening throughout the Hospital.

Foundation logo

67 years of service to the community web  National Philanthropy Day web  mural painting web
At the recent Long Term Service Awards the Foundation was well represented. (l-r) CEO Suzanne Bone, Deb de Boer and Linda Craig represented a total of 67 years experience helping raise money for GGH.

The Foundation office held an open house in celebration of National Philanthropy Day. Close to 100 staff dropped by to help celebrate the generous community members who support exceptional patient care at our Hospital through donations of money, time, product or service.

Thanks to generous donors, a paediatric area was brightened by the talented Guelph artist, Greg Elliott. He has been painting paediatric murals in the hospital since 1976. This time around, he's hoping his artwork will help provide a happy distraction for kids in the paediatric waiting area by PACU.