Jul 5, 2019 | Mental Health
Hi all. In previous blogs I have talked about my family. In this post I’ll be talking about them again but going further back into my childhood. In many ways I grew up like other kids of my generation did. We didn’t have seatbelts in our cars, we didn’t wear helmets when we rode our bikes and our parents didn’t really think about the impacts of second hand smoke. So, I grew up in a family where smoking and drinking was the norm. All the adults in my formative years smoked and most of them drank (some of them a lot). It’s not surprising that I tried tobacco at a young age. I was disgusted by it and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.
I tried drinking – like I tried smoking, and I did not have the same response as I did to tobacco. As a teenager I enjoyed drinking. You see, like many of my generation alcohol was synonymous for growing up – for having fun – for friendship and good times. I remember clearly the first time I went to a bar with friends – I was 15 years old.
Now at almost 60 I am a mom, an Amma, a nurse and a hospital CEO. I think that perhaps the lesson learned by many of my generation is that ‘I turned out fine so why should we worry about the kids today’? So what if they are drinking, smoking and using illicit drugs. We all did that (or some did) and we’re successful and contributing members of our community – we’re fine – I’m fine - so they will be fine too. Right?
Let me tell you why I say that.
First, let’s talk statistics:
That’s a lot of drinking and a lot of money going to address the costs as a result.
I’m not saying we need to ban alcohol; however given that we have solid data on our societal and health impacts we have to be aware that the current alcohol policy shifts that will increase accessibility across our communities will not come without further costs – human, societal, health and dollars.
So what can you do … what can I do … what can our community do?
Let’s start with having open conversations about misuse of alcohol in our community. Let me be clear that I’m not talking about those that enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer. I too, enjoy a glass every once in a while. What I am talking about is when you are craving alcohol. When you have lost control of the amount or the frequency of when you are drinking. When it becomes compulsive and you continue to drink despite consequences. We need to talk about the frequency that this happens.
About 17% of us self-report that we do heavy drinking – heavy drinking that eventually impacts us physically, socially and in some cases criminally. That’s almost one in five people in our community. That’s a lot of people. We need to talk about what that means to our community.
Second let’s be honest with ourselves and with each other that increased access isn’t going to help our community be healthier. We all need to be aware that when people are admitted to our hospitals as a direct result of alcohol consumption/misuse they stay longer and cost more to the system than other reasons people are admitted. We need to know and talk about the issues with alcohol as much as we talk about the issues with opioids and other substances. We can’t build a healthier community by continuing to pretend alcohol misuse isn’t an issue for a lot of people in Windsor-Essex.
And finally talk to your kids about this. Substances including alcohol are particularly detrimental to developing brains. I was startled by the numbers – remember one in six kids in grades 7 to 12 engage in harmful drinking activities. That isn’t a statistic we should be proud of and it’s one we should work to change.
I really believe we must have a community conversation about addictions in all its manifestations – including misuse of alcohol.
I hope you join that conversation.
As always your thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome.
Jan 8, 2019 | Mental Health, Patient Stories
Happy 2019, All! We are excited to kick off this new year with a special post from a good friend (and no stranger) to my blog. Danny inspires us by sharing how he continues to succeed through his own mental health struggles. No doubt he finds healing through his words and experiences, and I am happy to share some of that with you. Here’s to a positive, growth-oriented and healthy 2019. All of us at HDGH look forward to continuing changing lives with you all and creating a healthier Windsor-Essex.
In life, when I feel overwhelmed I have that one special place in the home that I love to go to. It is peaceful and it gives me comfort and happiness. It is my foundation, my domain and a place that restores my faith and my soul.I call it "Danny Gautama's wall of happiness". You might be asking, "Danny, what is that?” Well my awesome friend I will tell you. It is a wall that simply represents who I'am. It is a wall that cherishes special memories throughout my life that gives me happiness. For example, on that wall I have photos of my friends, my families. my cousins ,my cat, my sweetheart and I at The cooks shop, my achievements, Workout posters, Sylvester Stallone Poster from Rocky, Inspirational quotes on working out and success, Valentine Day cards I received from two little girls when I worked at our parents business in 2006,Birthday cards, Email and text responses from people I have helped. In addition to a shelf with sentimental memories of gifts people have given me throughout the years and much more.No negative thought can make me believe that I should be depressed and that I'am unloved, because the evidence tells me i'am loved and important to people.You see when I look at this wall, I instantly feel so much better. I feel that I do belong in this world. I feel I do matter and have worth and I walk out of that room feeling great.
We have two choices in life. Either we believe our negative thoughts to be true or we instead challenge them and come up with evidence that in reality it is not true and that you matter to the world.
When we have depression we may fail to see the bright side of the things to be grateful for, however there is always something behind the darkness that sheds some light of hope.
As I was battling a depression episode in 2007, I was building and creating my wall of happiness and as I started adding things on the wall I realized that I had so much to be grateful for as you do to. For example, you have people out there who love you even if you do not think so. There are so many people out there who would love to help you and make you feel better. There are so many inspirational quotes that can inspire and motivate you to change your life.
I want you to do something. What is there in this world that makes you happy? What represents you and your uniqueness? Can you find a space in your house and dedicate it to only you? It can be anything you want. It does not even have to be on a wall. It could be on multiple shelves; however, it has to be something that only makes YOU HAPPY. What is it that is meaningful and passionate to you?
Try not to hoard on everything and anything .I use to be a big time hoarder and collected things that I thought were important but were not and that did not make me truly happy .It was just a cluttered mess full of useless items. It made me feel overwhelmed. When I had a cluttered mess I had a cluttered mind. Think about it, when God takes me away, nothing is going with me. None of this stuff represents me. I realized that a room should be filled with who you are. What people know about you .That brings out your uniqueness.
Make sure that your happiness area is clean and nicely organized. Clean areas can impact your mental health in a positive way as opposed to a cluttered area in the house. Get rid of the things you don’t use or need.
In addition to having your clean happiness area, make sure your home, apartment or condo is always clean as well .Decorate it, have space, paint your walls with positive colours like pink, blue, green or any colour that makes you feel positive. I love fluorescent pink. It brings a calm yet euphoric and romantic feeling in me. In your home make sure there is no dust. Keep it simple my friends your bed should always be made, laundry is clean, dishes are always washed etc.
Your place should have good natural lighting which can improve your mood, if the weather is nice open all the windows and bring fresh air inside.
Remember this is your place you are living in and seeing everyday .Why make it a place that is depressing and negative when you deserve nothing but happiness and joy in your life.
One thing I do is I have a chalkboard and a chalk so I write positive quotes that I see when I drink my morning coffee before I go to work. For example “Danny the Fighter” “Danny is loved” “You got this Danny boy “. This gives me a pick up boost to get my day started with positive energy and vibes. I also have a separate small chalkboard and write down the things I’am grateful for.
My awesome friend, make the best of your home. Make it anyway you want. Be creative, have fun. Best thing to do is decorate your house while listening to inspirational music that gives you that good feeling.
With that being said always continue to make progress in your happiness. Always have goals my friend and achieve them with passion and a never give up attitude.
God bless you and take care. #Never give up, # Keep moving forward, # Believe in yourself.
Sincerely Danny Gautama
Dec 11, 2018 | Mental Health, Community and Partnerships
Each month when the times comes around to write this blog, it is always an interesting and exciting experience for me. I get to talk to you all about the things that are happening here at our organization, share with you lessons in leadership and life that I have experienced over my career, or introduce some colleagues and friends in the form of guest blogs. Writing to you each month is a key part of my efforts to ensure that I’m exploring all the different ways to let you all know what’s happening. For December’s blog, I would not be fulfilling my responsibility as President and CEO of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH), nor being an accountable member of our community if I didn’t continue the very public conversation our community has been having about the deaths experienced in Windsor on the weekend of November 10th due to drug related overdoses. As a leader in the provision of specialized hospital and community based mental health and addiction services, HDGH does indeed have a moral, an ethical, a human and an organizational responsibility to take action in this crisis, especially when action means saving lives. When we look at mental health and addictions programming the funding situation is clearly contributing to our community crisis. For too long now, our community agencies and partners have been forced to be as creative as possible with our resources (or lack thereof). We have combined, reallocated, redistributed, streamlined, held roundtables, hosted panels, formed and attended working groups and committees, all in response to the chronic underfunding to Windsor-Essex’s mental health and addictions sector. We are at the point now, where simply put, more is needed; more in the way of addiction treatment beds, more counsellors, more outreach, more youth interventions. Our Government needs to recognize that Ontario continues outside of Toronto and beyond London. Real people, with real families, with a lot of life left to live are having their lives affected – in the worst cases people are dying. Our problem is real. This is not ok. This is not doing the right thing.
So what action will you see from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare?
Over the next few months you will see a mobile unit in the downtown core. A recent study by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit found that the greatest amount of opioid related emergency department visits comes are from residents in the downtown core. We also know that in the same location, we have high number of hard-to-reach homeless population. In collaboration with Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario, the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex Branch, and Family Services Windsor Essex, you will see a Mobile Mental Health and Addictions Unit focused to this area and this population. While a pilot, this unit will address immediate needs, and provide linkages to already exciting existing support – The TSC, Crisis and Mental Wellness Centre for example. This mobile unit is yet another example of agencies finding efficiencies and creatively repurposing existing limited dollars. At this time, there are is no money to take the mobile unit past the pilot stage and ongoing funding will be necessary.
We have submitted an application to Government for a Youth Hub. The Hub would focus on servicing the mental health needs of transitional aged youth in developing an access point offering a range of services. Again, this is in partnership with community partners who see the same needs and are prepared to take action.
We have advised the Ministry of Health that we are prepared to take action to establish a Youth Addictions Program in alignment with our Regional Children’s Centre. Additionally, we’ve identified enhancements in our Withdrawal Management program. With the temporary repurposing of $15,000 HDGH will add an extra part time community outreach worker who will support an additional 20-30 clients between now and March 31, 2019.
The time to act is now. We can no longer bring groups together to talk about what is happening in Windsor-Essex. Hiring consultants and waiting until February for completed reports is time wasted. We need action, we need investments, and we need them NOW. HDGH is committed to doing our part, but we cannot do it alone. We need our community to come together with one voice and ask for the help we need and deserve. We won’t rest – we can’t rest – until we know that the weekend of November 10th, 2018 was the wake up call this community and this government needed to chart a different path forward.
May 7, 2018 | Mental Health, Patient Stories
It’s an exciting week! The second week of May is always a fun and important week for us at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare as we recognize and celebrate two important areas of what we do. From today, May 7th until the 13th, we celebrate the dedicated, tireless work done by our nurses. Events will take place every day this week for our HDGH Nurses and I would also encourage you to hop on social media using the hashtag #YesThisIsNursing to share your gratitude of our wonderful nurses both locally and across the country.
Along with Nurses, this week we are also celebrating Mental Health Week. For this week especially, folks are encouraged to recognize mental health as more than mental illness and instead about feeling good about who you are, having balance and managing life’s highs and lows.
Our guest blogger, Danny Gautama, is a true example of what it means to perseverance and spread positive awareness of mental health related issues as he too struggles with depression. Danny has made it his mission to help others with his words. Thank you Danny for being open, honest and sharing your story with us.
If you are reading this and have depression, I just want you to know how important and valuable you are. You are loved and needed in this world.
Don't listen to your depression because it lies to you. You will NOT give up because you are a fighter and a warrior.
You will beat this. I have faith in you.
People do care about you because I am one of those people. You have a purpose in this world and you are meant to do great things. You are meant to make a difference in this world. Don't listen to your depression because it wants to bring you to your knees. You are stronger and more powerful than it.
Get up and fight.
I am with you all the way cheering you on. You deserve happiness and love. Do whatever makes you feel happy. Listen to music, go help the homeless, volunteer for a good cause, give someone a compliment, help your elders with groceries, play with your pets and if you don't have a pet then adopt one, dance in the rain, exercise etc. You will start to feel better about yourself. Any time you have a negative thought, don't believe it; instead, challenge it.
I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), anxiety and depression but i get up every morning and fight. Sylvester Stallone is my hero so i guess i have to be a fighter. I will not let any of my negative emotions affect my work, relationships with my families, friends, romantic relationship or with my relationship with my cat, TJ.
Your happiness is my happiness.
Remember what Rocky Balboa said: "I didn't hear no bell. One more round!" Say that to depression. Tell depression "you are not going to bring me down".
This is your life. You are in charge of it.
Depression has no business being in your life. So smile today, smile for me. Show the world your beautiful smile, walk outside with confidence, celebrate who you are. You are a somebody. You are perfect just the way you are and you are irreplaceable. You will live long happy life.
Whenever you feel down, put your palms together facing you and join your heart lines together. You will see a smiley face.
So just know that everything will be okay. I am sending you a gentle loving hug from me to you. I love you. Stay strong and never give up.
I would love to hear from you. Get in touch with me at email@example.com
Mar 1, 2018 | Mental Health, Faces of HDGH
In December of last year, we launched our very own HDGH Blog. The first few blog posts were from myself on topics such as the holidays, heart health and our Pre-Budget Consultation. Each month, this blog has, and will continue to, cover a variety of topics including healthcare, wellness, spirituality, and life in general. It was always our intent with this form of communication that you hear from many voices. I am a true believer in the collective wisdom of our organization. With that, I am excited to introduce a new March blogger – a dedicated, passionate member of our HDGH Family, Sarah Myer, Crisis Worker with our Transitional Stability Centre (TSC). It is our hope that by reading Sarah’s post you understand our downtown TSC from someone who is very much living our HDGH mission each day. Perhaps even more powerful, however, we hope it gives you a glimpse of the beauty that happens when career and passion gracefully collide. - Jan
TSC is a place of many things, new and old. People from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, and socio-economic status come to the TSC for a wide variety of things. Much like myself. Working as a Crisis Worker and MSW on the first mental health treatment team to move into the downtown core has been both an honour and privilege. Much like everyday at the TSC.
The day is often filled addressing symptoms of anxiety, depression and wellness, but behind the scenes it’s filled with so much more. Honest, sincere and frank human to human discussions occur by the minute and topics often include suicidal thoughts, homelessness, psychiatric symptoms, health concerns, medication concerns, substance abuse - both prescribed and street use, alcoholism, legal stressors, financial hardships; relationship breakdowns; sexual, emotional and physical abuse both survivors and perpetrators, violence, discrimination, stigma, loss, bereavement and grief; the topics are as varied as you and I.
The TSC is also a place of hope, support and acceptance; kindness, honesty and advocacy. Using the foundation of value and dignity; while integrating multiple therapeutic approaches, the TSC is building a new house of hope; one where anyone can access multiple mental health services in one location. Breaking down some of the structural barriers that create long wait-lists and lose people in the process. The TSC is committed to navigating an otherwise at times complicated system with anyone who needs support. As a new and growing program we are able to evaluate and change as necessary to the ever-changing needs of the people we serve. When you enter TSC you are immediately met with a community agency feel combined with one to one individualized treatment focused supports. A one stop shop if you will. Growing hope, growing services and planting seeds of change is a process we are fully committed to as a team; as an organization; as professionals.
Growing seeds of change has been a big part of my professional journey. I have had the honour and privilege to be a staff at HDGH since I was 19 years old. It’s actually a family affair; as my mother, a registered nurse also works for an outpatient mental health team at HDGH. HDGH has often been a second home to me; as I am not originally from the Windsor area; staff, co-ordinators and managers alike have become a work family filled with memories, laughter, and learning. Originally I worked at the Regional Children’s Centre for almost 11 years, as a Child and Youth Worker on the Intensive Family Services team. As I grew I had the privilege to learn mental health treatment from some of the most knowledgeable salt of the earth people. It was there I learned emotional intelligence, tolerance, and acceptance. As RCC changed, so did I; I wanted to branch out my own understanding of mental health throughout the life span; and returned to school to obtain my Bachelors and Masters of Social Work degrees from the University of Windsor; all with the support of my second home. I then transferred to the Community Crisis Centre where I was welcomed into another work-family. This family taught me compassion, dedication and the value of self-determination. I spent almost two and half years traveling with our mobile team, working in the emergency department and manning the crisis phone line; assisting people in their darkest times to find hope, strength and a seed of change. As a student I focused on community work creating ever-valuable linkages within our community’s non-profit sector and am now able to use these linkages to build stronger connections between treatment and community supports in my everyday work at TSC.
A wise person once said “work a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”; another said, “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow;” may that be ever true within TSC; within the people we serve; within myself.
Jan 25, 2018 | Mental Health, Leadership, Community and Partnerships
Remarks presented by President and CEO, Janice KafferAs an organization, we appreciate and acknowledge the government’s recent investments in our community with the commitment to the new acute care hospital.We are actively working to establish a Centre of Excellence in Rehabilitative Care. We have made some difficult decisions, we have done a lot of hard work to benchmark ourselves against our peers and invest in our clinical resources but more must be done to better address the health needs specific to our local community. As an organization we know our obligation to our patients expands beyond the walls of the hospital. We have been developing programs and services to meet the needs of patients where they need it most – at home – in the community. But to do this well, partnerships and innovative collaborations are key and while the government strategy speaks to the need for inter-sectoral collaboration on the ground, the reality of old funding models and service agreements are creating barriers to true collaboration and system transformation. From urban hospitals in the biggest cities to community hospitals such as ours, we are all struggling with the disconnect between mandatory regulations, legislation and increasing expectations within our current funding reality. Rising costs are continually eroding the base funding of our organization and therefore our stability. Whether it be salary increases mandated through arbitration, the impact of Bill 148 and the costs associated with new mandatory regulations, these rising costs are having a profound impact on our bottom line. While we support new legislative standards for pharmacy oversight as evidence informed practice is the cornerstone, applying these standards come at significant costs to hospitals who are already struggling to keep up. In addition, technology demands are coming at a high cost. The need to move to electronic health records and a new Health Information System which will improve access, safety and the patient experience are adding material expenses to an already stretched budget. Workplace Violence and Prevention is a top priority for HDGH. We are proud of the work that we have done to support a workplace free of violence and are representing the efforts of our organization as a member of the provincial workplace violence committee. We have committed a major dollar investment both in capital and in enhancing training and support to our people to provide a safe environment for our staff, patients and visitors. While we know this is the right thing to do it does put further financial pressures on our hospital.We have made significant progress in the establishment of a recognized Centre of Excellence and a more integrated Mental Health & Addictions system. As the Windsor-Essex Hospital leader in Mental Health and Addictions, together with our partners, CMHA WE Branch, we are breaking down silos that have historically been a barrier to true system transformation. Even without new funding, HDGH is ready to work to create a stronger, more seamless mental health system but we are at a tipping point, collaboration and innovation alone cannot create the system our community needs.We have the expertise, and the infrastructure to significantly change the face of mental health and addictions. With the movement of 60 acute care beds to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the creation of urgent assessment for mental health and addictions and added resources for children and youth who are waiting for services, we know we can create a healthy, vibrant community but operating and base investment is required to make this vision a reality.In closing I would like to leave you with three key messages:First … Like my colleagues across the province I am concerned about the sustainability of HDGH without significant new investment to the base. Second HDGH is ready, willing and able to take new investments and substantively improve care in rehabilitative programming and Mental Health and Addictions services. And third and finally we need government to connect the dots between regulatory, legislative and practice changes and the impact to hospitals.Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
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