By Cecilia Nasmith
Fifteenth-anniversary celebrations for Northumberland Hills Hospital Oct. 22 included the recognition of six staff members with Healing Hands Awards in recognition of their outstanding demonstration of the NHH values of integrity, quality, compassion and teamwork.
The awards are an annual event, the hospital's press release stated. But this year they were announced on the 15th anniversary of the day NHH received its first patients on Oct. 22, 2003.
The ceremony took place in the heart of the hospital, at the Bistro - an internal celebration following a community event to celebrate this anniversary that was hosted in the same spot last week.
On Oct. 16, NHH (along with foundation and auxiliary representatives) hosted members of the public and local media at an open house and behind-the-scenes tour to say thank-you for the community's continued support. The tour was also an opportunity to demonstrate the many services available today, and highlight services and supports expected to grow in the coming years.
The community event was well attended, with staff members and physicians guiding tours through Dialysis, Cancer and Supportive Care, Diagnostic Imaging, Surgical Services, the Laboratory and the Birthing Suites.
Both internal and community celebrations highlighted the marked increase in patient activity at NHH in this decade-and-a-half in emergency-department visits (up 26%), patient admissions (up 30%), chemotherapy visits (up 415%), dialysis visits (up 427%) and community mental-health visits (up 855%).
“This tells me that each and every member of this team is doing not just important but essential work in this community,” hospital president and chief executive officer Linda Davis aid in her opening remarks at the Healing Hands ceremony.
“And your skills, whatever they may be - from front-line to housekeeper and all the roles in between – are needed more and more by this hospital as our community grows and ages and we work to bring as much care possible, close to home.”
For the next 15 years, Davis predicted increasing patient needs in many critical areas.
“Medical-surgical care will need increased bed spaces to better meet in-patient volumes, cancer care will require expansion and redesign of its physical space to improve patient flow and care, dialysis services will need to grow to meet rising local demand, ambulatory care will need an assessment of current offerings against new opportunities and a plan for physical-space requirements, and our emergency-department design requires review to see where we can improve the use of space to enhance patient and staff flow,” she listed.
To plan for these growing needs, NHH is embarking (with the support of the NHH Foundation) on a master planning exercise to determine the future programs and services needed to support care in the community properly over the next 15 to 25 years, as well as the physical infrastructure required to deliver that care. Further details will be communicated as this process moves ahead.
The annual Healing Hands Awards celebrate day-to-day acts over the past year that have made certain individual staff members stand out among their peers, and six 2018 recipients were announced.
Medical-surgical inpatient unit registered nurse Mariette Pelletier was described by her peer nominators as an excellent nurse and great listener, with “a combination of kindness, sense of humour and professionalism,”
Pelletier is known as a team player who shows initiative and a quick ability to adapt to change. One example her peers provided is the extra effort she has put into recent work related to reducing pressure injuries, recording and monitoring patient cases, investigating as necessary, and following up.
Her nomination included letters of thanks for her kindness, caring and sense of humour from patients and families who received care in her department in the past year, including one that described Mariette as “a force to be reckoned with.”
Community Mental Health case manager and Mental Health Engagement and Response Team (M-HEART) member Rachel Chard is part of an innovative new service that is working directly with local police services. Chard goes out into the community to offer care to individuals in need of mental health and addictions support, as opposed to waiting for them to come to NHH. As an M-HEART clinician, she brings a mix of street-level supports (including intensive case management and connections to community resources) with the goal of supporting longer-term stabilization of some of the community’s most vulnerable residents.
Recognizing her fearlessness in advocating for her clients, one of Chard’s nominators said she is never afraid to use her intelligence “to de-escalate situations where others may have felt at a loss for words.” It went on to say that she “believes in rights, fairness and equality for clients and co-workers alike… she is organized, concise, efficient and able to engage in creative problem solving when necessary to meet the unique needs of our clients.”
Emergency-department chief Dr. Peter Barnett is a relative newcomer who joined the hospital just over two years ago from the US. Some of his nominations came from peers, one of which quoted a past patient of Dr. Barnett's who said, “[Dr. Barnett] goes above the call of duty…sometimes my actions don’t make sense to others… he didn’t judge me…I was a patient who needed to be heard, and he did just that. I sat on the ground…he sat beside me. He introduced himself. I introduced myself. He calmly got me the resources I needed at that time. He used a patient-centred approach…this doctor is top-notch and I’m glad our paths crossed.”
Likewise, a colleague from NHH’s mental-health team referenced Dr. Barnett’s patient-centred style in her nomination, saying, “I will never forget how Dr. Barnett responded to my client….He acts like a person first, doctor second; he treated my client as a person first, and patient second.”
Admitting/switchboard admitting clerk Valerie Rumball is described as a core member of her team, with her nominations highlighting the respect she receives from others, as well as the calm, respectful and comforting manner she shows to others – important qualities for someone who is at the front door of the hospital.
“Valerie is a respected co-worker,” one nomination said.
“She is always patient with all patients and puts them at ease when they are nervous or afraid….I have seen patients come back by the department to say thanks for her help while they were here….One patient even brought her flowers to express thanks.”
Food-service worker Karen Walsh was nominated for her exceptional teamwork and positive spirit, as well as the support she provides both to colleagues and patients.
“If I’m running a bit late…and I can’t get ahead, Karen will go out of her way to help me,” one nomination said.
“She listens and understands the patients/co-workers’ needs without judging. She goes the extra mile to make sure that she is dependable, flexible… and positive.”
Describing her as a bright light at NHH, one colleague submitted a poem to support her nomination, noting “even a little spotlight is enough to radiate the darkness.”
Mammography-diagnostic imaging department senior medical radiation technologist Wendy Scott is a long-standing member of the diagnostic-imaging team with more than 40 years of experience in mammography. Her nomination package was a collaborative effort on the part of her colleagues.
“With her good nature and manner, [Wendy] allays concerns, consoles, and inspires confidence as she applies her skills as an MRT,” her peers said in their submission.
“Her dealings with people are a product of integrity and respect. With the respect she gives others, she earns their respect. This, in turn, promotes teamwork.
“[Wendy] shows interest and discipline in the pursuit of quality. Her character and personality is expressed in the compassionate manner in which she treats patients, their families and staff….[Wendy] is an outstanding representative for the hospital – a true ambassador for NHH… particularly for the radiology department.”
The hospital extends congratulations to all 2018 Health Hands Award nominees and recipients.