by Cecilia Naismith
NHH gets million-dollar news from MPP
Northumberland Hills Hospital board chair Beth Selby had a million-dollar annoucement at the May board meeting.
Specifically, she said, Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi had made the announcement that afternoon that the province is investing an additional $4.1-million in the hospital.
Of that amount, Selby said, $2.3-million will be a continuing addition each year to the hospital's base funding, and the remainder will be a one-time-only boost to help the hospital with the surge it has experienced in recent months.
At times, president and chief executive officer Linda Davis said earlier in the day during the announcement, the hospital has operated at 120% capacity due to unforeseen patient surges.
“It's great news all around,” Selby said, adding her thanks to staffers and board members who worked hard to make it happen.
Cobourg police continue active-shooter drills at NHH
Officers from the Cobourg Police Service were at Northumberland Hills Hospital in April to conduct departmental and hospital-wide active-shooter training to physicians and volunteers, president and chief executive officer Linda Davis reported at the May board meeting.
This is a continuation of actions taken in response to the Oct. 21 incident in the hospital's emergency department, Davis's report said.
“The intensive training began with departmental exercises on various shifts,” it stated.
“NHH policies were reviewed and Cobourg Police Service provided basic instruction on how to minimize risk and maximize safety, should an active-shooter situation occur.”
The April 26 hospital-wide mock exercise was conducted under the review of police, senior staff and observers, Davis's report said.
She was pleased with the response of the police observers, and shared some of the positive remarks they made.
“Staff reacted the way they should, and it was very successful and amazing to see,” one stated.
“It was a ghost town, an environment you want to create if you are in active-shooter situation,” another remarked.
Davis extended thanks to the Cobourg Police Services, as well as to hospital staff including vice-president of corporate services Elizabeth Vosburgh, director of quality and safety Rohan Gonsalves and emergency-department program director Anna Marie Sutherland.
A further exercise is planned for June.
Meanwhile, board chair Beth Selby added the news that a contingent from the hospital had been in attendance at the April 25 Cobourg Police Service awards night and had accepted a plaque from the police recognizing the partnership between the two parties.
Hospital begins new palliative-care team
The Northumberland Hills Hospital board got an update on the new palliative-care team at its May meeting from ER chief Francesco Mule and director of the post-acute palliative-care unit Melanie Hill.
Being given the opportunity to play a significant role in developing the team is something Mule said he is very grateful for.
Hill said the group includes members of the hospital's palliative-care unit, professional practice leaders associated with palliative care, a palliative-care registered nurse, the acute-care manager, the hospital social worker, the cancer-care nurse navigator and the manager of the cancer-care unit.
Their focus will be on a way to enhance the service in all its ramifications – the concept of palliative care, when exactly it begins in the trajectory of an ailment, and where it begins.
“The essence of palliative care is when we focus on improving the quality of life. There is really no one time frame,” Mule said.
The doctor finds that the words palliative care disturb many patients and family members, as it suggests “the end.”
“We are all working towards the end of life, as morbid as that sounds,” he pointed out.
“We need to focus on the individual and the symptoms the individual is trying to overcome. Symptom management, yes, is the focus. Yet is it only the individual, the patient, or is it the people surroudning the patient – family, friends, so forth?
“It encompasses all that.”
The team is cognizant that the new West Northumberland Hospice Centre is on the horizon to add another option when it is completed. Hospice care is typically invoked when a patient is expected to live only a matter of a few weeks or months.
It will not mean, however, that the hospital no longer offers palliative care, nor will it mean patients lose the option to remain in their own homes.
“That is one of the things I am working on – we want to say, 'Let's pay attention to you. This is where you are in your life. Let's provide this service,'” Mule said.
“We want to develop access to services in the hospital, in the community, and liaise with the palliative care team.
“We also want to develop a protocol – how do we provide cutting-edge medicine in terms of managing symptoms?
“That, in a nutsell, is what we are focusing on.”
“In the end, everything we do to enhance the delivery of palliative ccare, not only within the hospital but across the health-care sectors, is really based on the quality-standards framework our province has provided,” Hill stated.
“We are using that as a guide and framework for all the activities we do, to make sure all patients have access to palliative care where and when they need it.”
It is important to remember that palliative care is an offer, Hill added.
“It's not something we force someone to choose. It is one of a number of options, and we always have to remember that's our approach.”
How to identify the best time and method to initiate this conversation is one focus of the group, Hill said.
Mule said that the group currently providing palliative care at the hospital is phenomenal, not necessarily closing doors to other options, but having important conversations about how things might play out and how they can be prepared.
“They are very, very good at what they do in terms of preparing a patient for what is to come.”
Many people are afraid of these conversations, Mule said, and this is another challenge for the group to address.
Another is ensuring patients who might benefit from knowing about palliative care do make that connection with the appropriate professionals – Mule said that too many of them fall through the cracks.
“I think we need to focus on developing a tool that allows us to know who those patients are. We need to reach out to those physicians and nurses that come into contact with that patient.”
At the end of the day, Mule said it all comes down to what the patient wants, which is entirely fitting. From there, they see where the family fits in, what community supports are available, what other considerations must be undertaken. But it all serves the ultimate goal of the patient's wishes as stated by the patient.
Board member Jack Russell said it boils down to three options on where to receive palliative care – in a home setting (whether one's own home, a retirement home or a long-term-care facility), in the hospital's palliative-care unit and in the new hospice facility.
“Patients will make their decisions based upon their understanding of these options,” Russell said.
“It will be very, very important for everybody involved in this to be providing a uniform message and keep developing that understanding of what these options are.”
NHH board hears auxiliary and foundation news
As she retires from chairmanship of the Northumberland Hills Hospital Auxiliary, Pat Page Hosiak recently hosted a conference for other auxiliary volunteers throughout the Central East Local Health Integration Network – which she reported on at the hospital's May board meeting.
She estimated attendance at 120, drawn from all parts of the Central East region.
Page Hosiak was most impressed by the guest speaker, who opened a few eyes about mental-health funding.
“Apparently, the amount of money that goes to mental health is five cents per patient,” she said.
On the positive side, she added, volunteers throughout the Central East LHIN have reaised about $95-million for their respective hospitals.
“If you think about paying every one of us the minimum wage, you couldn't afford us,” she said.
Hospital president and chief executive officer Linda Davis, who had been attendance, congratulated Page Hosiak on a successful event that drew representatives from Campbellford, Haliburton, Minden and Whitby, among other communities.
Davis especially liked the way Page Hosiak planned for members of different communities to sit together. She heard a lot of exchange of ideas and suggestions going on among the tables.
Board member Jack Russell offered his praise to Page Hosiak as she retires from office.
“She is one of the best volunteers I have ever met – she is the one who identified at the strategic planning session that there's a lot more potential in the volunteer organizations we are not making use of,” Russell said.
On behalf of the NHH Foundation, Tyler Hathway reminded everyone that the grand opening of Turtle John's in Baltimore – planned to include an element of support for the hospital – had been cancelled due to ice. It has been moved to May 13, Hathway said, with special ceremonies from noon to 3 p.m. And on that day, he said, 50% of proceeds will be donated to the foundation.
Hathway also hopes to see more sign-ups for the July 14 Colour Run at Trinity College School in Port Hope. This is a popular new event where runners cover the course in white T-shirts, while friends show their support by bombarding them with powdered paint.
Any questions, he asked.
“Does that paint wash off?” president and chief executive officer Linda Davis wondered.
Davis was assured that it will.
“They aren't throwing Benjamin Moore at you,” board member Lynda Kay said.
NHH appreciates its volunteers
Northumberland Hills Hospital president and chief executive officer Linda Davis reported on Volunteer Week 2018 at the hospital at the May board meeting.
The big celebration took place April 18 in the second-floor Education Centre.
“From fundraising to governance, way-finding to quality improvement, spiritual care to a heart-warming hello, more than 600 volunteers play an essential part in the daily operation of NHH,” the report said.
The event opened with a tribute to the $2.6-million raised by NHH foundation volunteers, which exceeded their target of $2.28-million. The funds enabled the purchase of hospital beds, trauma stretchers and vital-signs monitors, among other vital pieces of equipment.
The dedicated volunteers of the auxiliary also came in for thanks for the work they do alongside hospital staff every day. Among their recent achievements is a new team dedicated to the orientation of patients coming into the busy medical-surgical unit. They were also praised for such long-standing activities as the inquiry-desk service and the operation of both the Little Treasure Shop on thehospital's ground floor and the Petticoat Lane thrift shop in Cobourg.
In addition to all that, the report said, the auiliary's initiatives raised $200,000 for priority equipment for the hospital.
The board and its community volunteers dedicate hundreds of hours of service to the governance of the hospital each year, and those in attendance – among them, chair Elizabeth Selby, vice-chair Pam Went and community-committee member Barry Gutteridge – were asked to relay the hospital's thanks to their various bodies.
Other volunteers recognized included student volunteers, spiritual-care volunteers (represented by Janice Buck and Dr. Ewen Butler) and dedicated St. John Ambulance volunteers who bring their therapy dogs to visit and lift spirits.
Only in its second year, the Patient and Family Advisory Council offers a voice to patients and care givers – Mary McLeod, Barry Vail and Irene Kavanagh represented this group.
The keynote address Honouring Your Giving Self was delivered by Maryanne Brown, an advanced-practice nurse with 35 years' experience in gerontology and a master's of science degree from the University of Toronto faculty of nursing with research focus on interventions for those with dementia. She also has operated a 20-year active practice in the healing arts, specifically energy and energy psychotherapy. In this capacity, Brown spoke to the dedicated volunteers with a simple message - “volunteers cannot give fully to others unless they also take care of themselves.”