Mar 1, 2021 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH
Photo Courtesy of The Windsor Star, Photographer Dan Janisse
Well – it’s been almost a year since COVID-19 came to town. What a year it’s been for us all! When I think back on all that has happened, all that has changed and all that we have been through it’s no wonder we’re all tired. I’ve said in many forums that the last 12 months have been the toughest of my professional and personal life. I honestly believe that this experience has shaped me – shaped my leadership – shaped my priorities and indeed transformed me in ways I have yet to discover. I’m certain that many of you feel the same and in some ways, you know that who you are today is different than who you were a year ago.
In many ways I think we’re different as a community, as a HDGH team and as individuals. I’ve thought about some of these ways we have grown, evolved and changed over the last year. Here are some of those thoughts…
What about you? What’s different in your life? In your frame of reference? What have you learned this past year?
Last week I shared a post about how tired I am of all this. The intent was to open a conversation for us to really be honest about the toll this whole year has taken on us. I was surprised and honestly gratified by the response it’s generated – so many folks saying thank you to me for the comments and the honesty – that it resonated with their own feelings and that I helped them to know they aren’t alone. I want you all to know that it’s important for us to take the time when we can to grieve what we’ve lost, acknowledge the pain of our experiences, share honestly how we are feeling and finally support each other through the next few months as we approach the finish line of this horror of a pandemic. No one is alone right now – and as healthcare workers, we are sharing an experience that many will never fully understand. A note to our healthcare workers; it is time to take off those superhero capes and recognize that even we need to feel everything that has been the last 12 months. Our patients, families, friends and most importantly our mind, body and souls will be better because of it. So talk to each other – take the time to really ask “how are you doing.” If you’re tired of being tired (like me) feel free to reach in and we can chat. I’m here for you as you all have been here for me.
I want to close with the hope that I feel today. The vaccines are here and approx. 65% of our team here at HDGH have asked to be vaccinated – that’s awesome and gives me hope. We have begun the community vaccinations and Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes are now done and that gives me hope that the end is in sight. It’s not over quite yet but for the first time in a long time I actually can see and feel the finish line. That light we’ve been talking about at the end of the dark and scary tunnel is brighter today than it was a month ago. I know that we may have a couple of tough months between now, that finish line and light but we can do it!
To all those reading this today, hang in there – talk to each other – take some time to be kind to and care for yourself if you can and know that you’re not alone. We truly are in this together.
Feb 3, 2021 | Leadership, Community and Partnerships
Well, we have officially made it through the first thirty-one days of 2021 after a year that already seemed never-ending at times. I am happy to be writing to you all today at the start of a new month in this new year that brings fresh opportunity, new insights and a hopeful perspective if we are willing to recognize it.
In this month’s blog, I welcome a new guest blogger who has been a big part of our organization for some time now. Mrs. Bethe Jarcaig, the Chair of the HDGH Foundation Board of Directors, is someone who you will read below is a loyal ambassador for our organization; a leader living and breathing the mission and vision of HDGH. It’s important for you all to learn more about Bethe and the role of our HDGH Foundation in order to begin to understand the adjustments, creativity, and unique changes that have been required from a fundraising perspective since the onset of COVID-19. More today than ever before, the funds raised through our Foundation are required to help support our patients/clients and their loved ones. Our community has supported us through the pandemic (and before) and in turn we support many in our community that need us now and into the coming year or more. Bethe along with the members of both our hospital and Foundation Board are incredibly dedicated volunteers. They give one of the most valuable gifts a person can give – time. This gift of their time allows us here at HDGH to have the potential to change lives and that is exactly what we do together. Thank you to Bethe, to our HDGH Foundation Board along with our loyal and dedicated donors for making this time in our collective history a little brighter. You truly are the gift that keeps on giving.
Stay warm, safe, and healthy,
There is no doubt that hospitals are being put under increasingly unprecedented fiscal pressures. Recently, the Ontario healthcare sector has undergone significant modifications. One area that has not changed is the importance of philanthropy for hospitals, and how many hospitals use a separate fundraising foundation to implement their fundraising strategies.
The Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) Foundation has adopted this model which allows us the ability to maintain local fundraising efforts. Together, we function as a bridge between the hospital system and the community. Our mission is to be “a trusted foundation transforming healthcare and cultivating a healthier community through generous giving.”
Our Foundation Board of Directors is comprised of diverse individuals, each with critical skills and knowledge, entrusted to care for the foundation’s philanthropic resources. We are the Ambassadors of HDGH, by sharing information, identifying donor opportunities and spreading the word about the hospital and foundation. As Directors, it has been some of the most challenging, most humbling, and most fulfilling work we’ve ever done. But mostly, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. My role as Foundation Board Chair has allowed me the pleasure of working collaboratively with our Directors, leadership and stakeholder groups, bringing us closer to our community enhancing HDGH’s ability to serve the people of our Windsor-Essex community – YOU!
We have been so fortunate to have so many incredible Windsor-Essex donors. Their generous support has made a meaningful difference to the patients and clients of HDGH. I would be remiss to not mention some of these donors in this blog as they have been instrumental in not only helping us carry forth our mission but also in supporting us through a challenging year on so many fronts.
With that, thank you! Thank you to the Klundert Family of BK Cornerstone, who in the spring of 2020 supported our Foundation with a $190,000 donation from the sale of a home built exclusively to sell for charity. Along with the continued support from Anita Imperioli and In Honour of the Ones We Love, these funds will go to our mental health programs at HDGH.
Thank you for the ongoing active support on our campus from our friends at T2B. Not only have T2B been instrumental in supporting our palliative program for many years but they also donated 24 iPads before the holidays to ensure patients on this unit could stay in touch with their loved ones during the pandemic. They also went as far as recognizing our staff, who have continued to persevere, in gifting each nursing floor with a lovely Tim Horton’s gift basket.
In Honour of the Ones We Love, Anita and your team, we are grateful. Thank you doesn’t seem to suffice. You have been a supporter, a believer, and active members of our HDGH Family and Foundation since day one. You have gifted blankets, keeping palliative patients warm on their darkest of days. You have partnered on events and even designated funds from some of your own. You have provided our staff, visitors, patients and their loved ones a place to sit and nourish through the In Honour Café in the Emara Building and breakfast to some of our community’s most important - our RCC Children. HDGH is better, stronger and healthier because of you.
Dr. Lillian Mok and Family support our RCC programs in a profound way and we look forward to working closely with the Mok Family to help enhance the programs and services provided by their very generous support.
Mr. John Viecelli your passion to make Windsor-Essex and its residents just a little happier is contagious. You have gifted us with a generous donation where we look forward to sharing the details in the upcoming months. It has been a true pleasure getting to know you and your wife, Lia.
To the Solcz Family Foundation. Your grant in supporting the Breaking Free program and those struggling with substance misuse will change lives. Your legacy of giving to this community is one so deeply rooted that you have made a family affair. You continue to add to the story of Windsor-Essex written together, by us all. Our Foundation is grateful to be a chapter in this story.
Finally, to our community. As the Chair of our HDGH Foundation, I have watched you rise with compassion, generosity and love. From PPE, to meals, snacks, signs, and strength, you have amazed us.
To conclude, I would like to encourage the readers today to please visit the HDGH’s Foundation website to learn more about some of the upcoming ways you can help us build a stronger, healthier Windsor-Essex. It can be as easy as purchasing online 50/50 tickets (happening now!)
As a true ambassador would do, my hope is that you see the opportunity for change, for movement, to raise up and continue to strengthen our footing, base, foundation - together, as one.
Chair, HDGH Foundation Board of Directors
Oct 5, 2020 | Leadership
It’s October and as I have mentioned to many of you, it is hard to not feel a wee bit (or maybe a lot) discouraged that the primary topic of conversation remains COVID-19. As Ontario has officially entered the second wave of this pandemic, I would like to take October’s blog as an opportunity to write about some of my observations – observations from the perspective of a Hospital CEO, a parent, grandmother, Windsor-Essex community member, and leader.
Each week I visit various units and departments of our hospital. This is not only a check-in and to say hello, but to also talk about our ongoing responses, worries, and learnings about COVID-19. At first, these walkabouts were about sharing the ever-changing information. More recently they have been about validating concerns, sharing projections, and providing assurance that although things are quiet in Windsor-Essex at present, we at HDGH remain vigilant and prepared. These conversations with our more than 1,100 staff, have, from what I’ve heard, been of tremendous value not only for them for also for me. Through these COVID-19 information walkabouts, I am reminded of the value of face-to-face (now mask-to-mask) conversations, and that communication to our staff without the opportunity for back and forth conversation is not ideal in times of difficulty or anxiety. While our digital world has provided the opportunity for timely, mass communication, the information I get from seeing, sensing, responding, and hearing from our team cannot be undervalued.
Here are a few things I learned from one of our teams during my last walkabout:
“There’s a fine line between fear and panic. Fear can drive preparedness, planning, and a thoughtful response to a crisis. Panic impairs our ability to assess the true impact of our experience and in turn, respond in a measured fashion.”
While we enter this next phase of responding to COVID-19. Our hospital, YOUR hospital, our Windsor-Essex post-acute community hospital, continues to keep a very steady pulse on this virus. We continue to do our work to keep each and every one of our staff members, patients and community safe. It was a promise of mine in March and remains a promise of mine today.
We’ve been on a road together now for months and we’ll continue for the foreseeable future. Let me know please if there are things you want to hear about, know about or have more information about that would help you. I regularly take ideas for blogs from me and from guest bloggers from my talks with you all so keep the ideas coming.
Stay well. Stay safe. Stay HDGH strong.
Aug 27, 2020 | Mental Health, Leadership
September’s blog is written by one of our team members here at HDGH, Stacey Slobodnick. We are so fortunate to have Stacey and a whole team of experts here at HDGH in our Regional Children’s Centre (RCC) program to help guide us through the challenges of parenting in the time of COVID.
As a grandmother to the 3 shorties Allie, Nate and Corny, and mom to their mom Kate, I’ve thought a lot about what happens in the next couple of weeks. Our family has talked a lot about the question of what to do about school. It’s been tough for us and likely tough for you all to sort out what is the “right” decision to make. Should the kids go back? Should they do the online option? What about their mental health? What about our family health? There are so many questions and not a lot of answers. Stacey talks to us all from many years of professional experience and as a parent herself. The tips here are practical and apply no matter what decision you and your family make regarding school. They help to remind me personally of the need to talk openly with the kids about all this and not to assume they are ok because I am. Reading this I know that our family will be ok – I hope it helps you too :) My gratitude to Stacey and the outstanding team at RCC who do so much for so many of our most vulnerable citizens – our kids. I am privileged to know you all. Thank you! Jan How to support a child as they return to school- Regional Children’s Centre social worker Stacey Slobodnick shares 6 great tips on how to manage this stressful time Hi! My name is Stacey Slobodnick and I am a social worker. I’ve had extensive training over the past 26 years in behavior management, emotion regulation, play therapy, trauma and attachment, anxiety intervention, bereavement, and divorce issues. I am also a parent of two teenage boys who turned out to be my best teachers in the area of child development and understanding the challenges of parenting. With 21 years of experience in children’s mental health, I currently hold the position of Clinical Lead at HDGH Regional Children’s Center for the Outpatient teams. In this role, I have the distinct pleasure of providing clinical support to the exceptional staff at RCC who work with this community’s children, youth, and families who are involved in outpatient services. With the back to school season quickly approaching, we are aware that this September is likely imposing some new challenges beyond the ones that typically are experienced in previous years. In general, going back to school for many families can be challenging: reintroducing and enforcing routines and structure, facing social issues such as bullying or “fitting in”, meeting academic demands, test anxiety, scheduling difficulties (balancing work and children’s extracurricular activities) and securing child care arrangements. These are the challenges when COVID is NOT present. Getting back into routines and meeting classroom expectations were not easy following a 2 month summer break – what can we expect from a 6 month one?! How do we ensure our children will be safe when they are in the school setting? What are the best ways for me to support my child as he or she returns to school? The following tips can help.
5. Prepare for routines before the first day of school. Talk about your family’s expectations for mornings and after-school routines a week ahead of time. Begin to adjust bedtimes and screentimes to support those routines. Shop together for school supplies and lunch/snack items. Encourage your child to wear their masks at home for increasingly longer periods. This can help troubleshoot challenges that may surface throughout their school day. 6. Focus on the positive. This is absolutely integral. Keeping safe during a pandemic has created a lot of restrictions, change, and uncertainty. You and your child may be full of “what ifs”. Normalize their feelings. Talk about times when you were uncertain but overcame a challenging situation. Share how you cope with anxiety (unless it’s drinking wine, that won’t be helpful). When we don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s good to focus on what present opportunities are around us. Look for gratitude, help others, exercise self-care. Reflect on effort, not on outcome. Be flexible and patient about academic demands. A positive experience is more important than grades. Remember myself and colleagues at RCC are ready and here to help. Families initiate services with RCC when they have concerns about their child’s moods, behaviours, social interactions, family relationships, or if they or their child have experienced a traumatic event or are struggling with coping with any given situation. We support families by providing them with consultation or therapeutic intervention to help guide them on a pathway that promotes recovery, a healthy well-being, and a sense of hope. This looks like
All of our services can be accessed by phone or video session. We are excited to begin offering in-person sessions as well on a gradual basis. If you are interested in seeking services for your child or family, you simply call 519-257-KIDS (5437) and a receptionist will help direct you. For an immediate session or ongoing services, the receptionist will take your information to open a file. You can expect a call the same day, often within the hour, to initiate services. You will be connected with a social worker who will complete a brief assessment about your child or family’s needs and offer you choices about which of our many services may be most beneficial for your situation. We strive to collaborate with families about the goals they choose to identify, which services they feel are the best fit, and which modality (video, phone, or in-person) they feel the most comfortable with. We work with parents as our partners on this journey of helping their child or family. For more information visit www.hdgh.org/RegionalChildrensCentre
Jul 31, 2020 | Mental Health, Leadership, Community and Partnerships, Faces of HDGH
YAC Group Shot
The last few months have been a testament to the fact that the world is ever changing in unexpected ways. But, it has also been a testament to the great importance of connection, conversation and community that is so crucial to us as human beings. Even before COVID-19 began to sweep across nations, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) recognized the importance of including youth in the conversation of healthcare, their healthcare and the future of our community’s healthcare. I am incredibly proud of this initiative which adds a tremendously important voice to the healthcare conversation – one that frankly is not as “loud” as it should be. You will read two such voices today as you hear from Kaitlyn and Kat – two remarkable young women who are the future of our community in so many ways. Courage, compassion, collaboration and resilience have already been asked for from these young people and thankfully they answered the call with oomph J Enjoy this months blog from our Youth Advisory Council (YAC) that speaks to an important aspect of our individual and collective humanity; the desire and the need for togetherness – of supporting each other – of being vulnerable and being human.
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was established in 2018 to provide all staff members of HDGH with feedback on hospital programs, services, new initiatives and community engagement from the perspective of youth of Windsor-Essex. Since its establishment, the YAC has grown to 14 dedicated members who all bring differing experiences, perspectives and knowledge to council discussions and initiatives.
YAC has been committed to volunteering within the community to build powerful relationships with other youth and organizations for youth. In addition to providing consistent feedback to all areas of HDGH and contributing to the social media channels, they are also currently in the process of beginning a new initiative, Wellness Through Grace. This initiative will allow students to have resources, knowledge and support to be able to better care for their own mental health, support their loved ones and guide others in the right direction when it comes to wellness.
Kaitlyn McCarthy and Katarina Kolobaric are the co-chairs of the YAC and have been members since its establishment in 2018. As co-chairs, Kaitlyn and Katarina share the role of oversight, guidance and organization for biweekly meetings, initiatives and community outreach. They feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside the wonderful individuals that are their council members as they help build a better future for youth, by youth.
A Note from Katarina:
As an individual who is always going through life at full speed, the onset of COVID-19 was not an easy adjustment. Essentially everything that I had planned for the next six months, from concerts to conferences and all the extracurricular events in between, was cancelled. Life had come to an abrupt halt, making me skid from the speed I was going at and come to a complete stop.
In all honesty, the very beginning of the pandemic was the most difficult on my mental health. I didn’t really know what to do with myself or how to really comprehend the vast degree to which this virus was affecting the world. I felt very detached from everything and everyone and like I had lost my purpose. Without the hustle and bustle of in-person University, my lifeguarding job and my other various involvements, it came down to realizing I literally had no hobbies because I never had time for them. It took a little while, but I was finally able to start feeling like myself again. Though I intensely missed the ability to see my loved ones, to hug them and talk to them without it being through a computer screen, I made peace with what I had.
My mentality was always able to shift positively when I came back to the root of my gratitude - being so thankful for my health and the health of all those around me. Also, being thankful for technology and its ability to still give us some form of connection helped me get through the more extreme feelings of social isolation. What really helped me was establishing a routine. Making a list of a few things to do every day made me feel more productive and purposeful. Adding on other hobbies that I had dropped because of lack of personal time, like actually reading for pleasure, inspired me to seek other things that I could do, simply because they made me happy. Having hobbies and setting tasks for yourself is great, but doing nothing is fine too. I learned to be more kind and patient with myself when I just didn’t have the energy to do anything on certain days.
There is no right way to respond to a pandemic. It has been scary, frustrating and extremely taxing on everyone. Allow yourself to take all the time you need, give yourself credit for just getting out of bed. Appreciate the little things. If we can take away anything from this pandemic, it should be that we should always take the time to slow life down a bit. To not take for granted the things that we have and to spread more love and kindness to the people in our lives.
We will most likely never go back to the “normal” we had before. But, that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We are most definitely capable of coming out of this stronger than ever - resilient and ready to take on the next challenge. Continue to become more in touch with yourselves and learn as much as you can. We are powerful beyond measure and will make it through this, together.
A Note from Kaitlyn:
In March 2020, I stood amongst 100 other nursing students waiting for a midterm to begin, shoulder to shoulder. I had just gotten home from Toronto where I shared a milkshake for dessert at a restaurant and watched a film at the theatre next to strangers. Days later, I said an indefinite good-bye to my closest loved ones and gathered with my family to watch the Prime Minister make his first address regarding COVID-19. In the beginning, it felt surreal, like normal would be back and I could pretend that nothing happened. But soon still hasn’t come.
In March I was prepared to care for my community in the midst of such uncertainty. As an aspiring nurse and a dedicated member of my community, I knew being on the frontlines was where I needed and wanted to be. I was hired in mid-March as a Patient Screener at Erie Shores Healthcare and then signed on to be part of their Migrant Worker COVID Outreach Assessment Team. While working, I finished up my semester of nursing practical experience and lectures, online.
Ever since the beginning, I have struggled immensely with things I never would have expected to struggle with. I miss not being able to hug my loved ones or be surrounded by people smiling, laughing and talking, in shopping malls or at school. I am the one to tell families that they can’t see their loved ones in the hospital and I am the one to give doctors and nurses their designated personal protective equipment for the day. I have held the hand of a young migrant worker through multiple layers of gloves as he was swabbed for COVID-19, pale with fear. I don’t handle all of it well, there are still many days I cry or shake with anger. However, there are also days that my cheeks hurt from smiling and my mind is at peace.
Driving past the supportive signs that line the roads on my way to work and seeing the posts on social media about community togetherness helps me get through the bad days. Having the time to connect with old friends over the phone helps me get through the bad days. Finally focusing on myself and doing things I enjoy like going for a walk, listening to old music, painting and being with those in my household helps me get through the bad days. However, what has helped me the most and what continues to help me the most is knowing that we are all in this together.
No matter what, we are all affected by COVID-19. It may be in different ways but, at the end of the day, we are all learning, we are all trying, we are all doing our best and we will recover from this, together. So, for those of you who are at a similar place as I am, my advice to you is to take each day one step at a time. Take this time to focus on yourself, reach out to others to encourage them and support your community. The world is not going to move on without you, we are the future of the world, we will move as it does. But, as you find yourself in the unknown; watch, learn and start to see how you can be the change as a generation of the future.
Jul 2, 2020 | Leadership, Community and Partnerships
I am 60 years old. Some days I feel every day of this age and others I wonder how it could possibly be that I’m the old lady my mom used to be. Some of you are asking “what is she talking about?” or/maybe (hopefully J) “wow she doesn’t look a day over 59.” lol
Age is relevant I think because this month’s blog is some advice for new grads from a mature, experienced, white haired grandmother and CEO – me. I’ve never written an advice column for grads before but this years’ graduating class (at all levels of education) is a unique one in so many ways. Graduates are setting off into a whole new, and somewhat uncertain, world. With this reality, we thought some advice might be helpful. To all the grads out there reading this, take what resonates and leave all the rest behind.
Be Bold. Wow profound eh? I know many say this but what does it really mean? For me it means have the courage of your convictions and stepping up and speaking out. It has taken me a long time to get to the place where I know that I MUST speak out on issues and concerns that hurt my heart. For too long I’ve felt that my job, my role, my profession, my own insecurities about being criticized or shut down was more relevant than speaking out for what I believe. Don’t be me – be you. Be bold and audacious. Speak out loudly and strongly. Find friends who believe what you believe and be part of a movement for change because we all know (even us old folks) that we didn’t do it well and you have work to do to make it better.
Be a change maker. This one is super important. The world is in a mess. We have children with no homes, families with no food, people with no hope, cities with no diversity, countries with no leadership and the world with no real plan to save ourselves. But everywhere there are people who are trying to change this and make it better. Be one of those. If all you can do is support, then support. If you can march – march. If you can be an organizer for change – organize. If you can lead a movement – lead. Whatever you find in yourself that can make the world a better place, share it broadly. We all need you to do that.
You’re all graduating and starting a journey. I hope you have a destination in mind but if not, don’t worry, life has a way of leading you where you need to go. Most of the building blocks of the people you will become are already there. Some of those blocks are strong and firmly embedded because of the love and support you have had from your family. Some of you however have not had that positive family experience and you will have to look to build that strength within yourselves and the people you choose to make your family. Choose wisely and be selective. The hundreds of “friends” you have on your social media channels are not the people that will help you as you build out your life and your future. Find the few that care – the few that love you no matter what – the few that will stand by you when you mess up – the few that know how to forgive. Those are the ones that will help you to build your foundation. The rest are entertainment.
Maya Angelou wrote that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I try to live my life with this in mind. I didn’t always – for too long I felt that my words were important and my accomplishments mattered. I know now that when I die the people who will remember me will be the people who loved me and who I loved in return. That is what truly matters grads – loving and being loved in return.
Now go be the change I know you will be J
Jun 9, 2020 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH
Allied Health Staff
This guest blog comes to you from Cassandra Leblanc one of HDGH therapy professionals. We had talked a little bit about the pandemic pay decision by government following one of the staff huddles I did on the units and after some back and forth by email decided that Cassandra’s voice needed to be shared in this format. In her blog Cassandra speaks to the role of therapists in our health system and why they matter, why they are important to our patients and to our community, and why they are ESSENTIAL. I personally and professionally am proud of our team here at HDGH and am pleased to provide a venue for their worth to be understood by those who may not “get it”. To us at HDGH they are indeed essential!
Thanks Cassandra for accepting the invitation to blog!Jan
The Ontario government recently released a revised, and final, list of healthcare staff eligible for pandemic pay. As an occupational therapist in a rehabilitation hospital, it was not only disappointing to hear that allied health professionals were once again omitted from this list, but demoralizing to realize that the Ontario government does not view our work as, “essential”. I am not alone in expressing that occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language pathologists, and certified rehabilitation assistants are concerned with the impact that this decision may have on how our services and our professions will be regarded in the future. We fear that the decision to omit allied health from pandemic pay may devalue our work in the eyes of the government, the public, and our interprofessional colleagues. With this concern in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to shed light on the unique value of allied health professionals in a rehabilitation context. We often joke that you only learn what a therapist truly does when you need therapy. While our roles are so diverse that it is impossible to capture the full scope of allied health in one blog post, I hope that this provides some semblance of perspective.
Allied health, or as you may know us individually, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language pathologists, and certified rehabilitation assistants, are healthcare professionals that focus primarily on function. Through therapy we ensure patients are able to return home to care for themselves and their families, to return to work as productive members of society, and to enjoy activities as they had prior to hospitalization. Allied health works closely with patients and families to safely and efficiently discharge patients to reduce hospital lengths of stay, and have been shown through research to be pivotal in preventing secondary complications and costly re-admissions to hospital. As the Chicago Tribune put it, "It's one thing to survive the infection, but what's next?" We are the healthcare professionals who help patients to walk, talk, and care for themselves. We help patients regain movement of their limbs, compensate for cognitive difficulties, and educate on living life to the fullest with disabilities or chronic health conditions. We help patients return to work, enjoy leisure activities and sport, and enable them to age in place safely. In short, allied health professionals support patients to regain their quality of life after illness or injury.
This brings my discussion to where we are now, in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Ontario government has neglected to acknowledge therapists’ value, there has been a steadily growing need for therapy throughout the pandemic. As professionals who focus on both recovery of illness and adaptation to disability, we have proven to be well suited to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients as they face new and debilitating symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, globalised weakness, and cognitive difficulties after long term ventilator use. In addition to our evolving role with the illness itself, we also continue to care for our pre-COVID-19 caseloads and ensure swift and safe discharge to help keep hospital capacity low in the event that the pandemic takes a turn for the worst. As you can imagine, it is impossible to provide the care we do without coming into close contact with our patients. Therapists and rehabilitation assistants are providing invaluable care with the same passion, courage, and resilience as the professions included in pandemic pay. All while donning the same protective equipment and braving the same risks of contracting COVID-19.
We are proud of our chosen professions. We are proud to put our patients first, no matter the risks. We are proud to help our patients flourish and find hope in the face of adversity. It is baffling to me how the Ontario government does not consider therapists as, “essential.” All I can think is that the government, like much of our public, is simply unaware of the services we provide. Occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language pathologists, and certified rehabilitation assistants may not be the first health professionals that come to mind when thinking of hospital staff, but it is my hope that by making our voices heard, our value and the services we provide on a daily basis will be considered essential during future healthcare decisions.
Below are a few articles highlighting therapy and their role during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Jun 1, 2020 | Leadership, Faces of HDGH
HDGH PFAC Chair, Barb Masotti
I’ve invited a very important colleague, friend and HDGH Champion as a contributor for June’s Blog. As you can imagine, the last few months have been full of decisions, changes and emotions. HDGH would not be the organization it is, or have had the ability to lead through this COVID-19 pandemic without our Patient and Family Advisory Council, or PFAC as we often refer to it, ensuring that the voice of patients and their loved ones are at the centre of our decisions. This was important to our organization pre pandemic, and even more important now, during a time when our organizational decisions have such a direct impact on our patients, clients and their loved ones.
I am pleased to e-introduce you to Barb Masotti, the Chair of our HDGH PFAC as my June Guest Blogger.
PS: If you feel as though joining our PFAC would interest you, please visit https://www.hdgh.org/en/pfac for more information on how to become involved.
I’d like to start with heartfelt thanks to all who work for Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. Your commitment to uphold the values of respect, teamwork, social responsibility and compassion at the hospital makes my heart sing. You have worked hard, extremely hard, during this most difficult time – COVID-19. You have shifted gears, redeployed staff, accepted new assignments, reorganized everything and found ways to accomplish the work that needed to be done. Your continued dedication has fulfilled the goal of keeping patients, families, staff and community Safe. During these arduous times there can be no greater goal. On behalf of all the members of the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
I’ve been a community member of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Patient and Family Advisory Council for five years. HDGH made a commitment to ensure that the Patient/Family Voice would be heard and valued. I can assure you that has occurred and is still occurring during this pandemic. At the onset of COVID-19, HDGH created a variety of new committees to deal with everchanging situations. The Patient/Family Voice is part of numerous discussions and is involved in decision making. HDGH quickly began to formulate visitor restrictions and PFAC was consulted from the beginning. Currently, we have PFAC members reviewing possible steps in a Tiered Visitation Policy as HDGH looks at reopening services. Some members were invited to the initial meetings that established the Family Support Team. The Ethics-COVID-19 meetings has a PFAC presence. In April, HDGH’s PFAC sent a letter of appreciation and thanks to all and in May was part of a video giving thanks for Nurses’ Week. The newly formed CEO Advisory Council had its first teleconference meeting and “yes” a PFAC member sits on this council also. As situations evolve, so does the involvement of the PFAC. HDGH continues to maintain that the PFAC is not just a “token”, and we want to applaud their leadership in hearing the Patient and Family Voice.
But…there is one more novel committee that I want to talk about and that’s the HDGH led Regional Patient Advocate and PFAC Committee. It is comprised of five regional hospitals; Erie Shores Healthcare, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Bluewater Health, Windsor Regional Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. This committee has come together to share strategies and experiences. Hopefully, this is the first step in initiating a healthcare system where the “gaps” are smaller and patients’ journeys are “smoother.” Yes, HDGH’s Patient and Family Voice is there too.
Now, you might be wondering what the future holds for the Patient and Family Advisory Council. Well, we’ve had our first “Zoom” meeting to catch up with everyone’s lives and there are more to come. It’s different, that’s for sure, and we long for the human connection that we’ve made with each other. We’re all finding our way – a new way for now.
I wish you all Strength, Health and Affection,
Barb Masotti, Chair of HDGH Patient and Family Advisory Council
May 11, 2020 | Leadership, Community and Partnerships, Faces of HDGH
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