Colon cancer screening project models the way
As it leads the way in delivering a simple, fast and safe screening exam for colon cancer, Hotel Dieu Hospital has quickly moved from piloting the screening tool to mentoring other hospitals eager to provide the same service.
In December, a clinical team from Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital travelled here to learn about flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG), a procedure in which a thin, flexible lighted tube is used to examine the lower colon for cancer and pre-cancerous polyps. In particular, they came to watch Registered Nurses performing the screening exam.
Those RNs are at the centre of a highly successful pilot project at Hotel Dieu that offers patients at average risk for colon cancer the option of FSIG screening by specially trained nurses. One of 11 pilots spearheaded by Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Hotel Dieu program has been commended for accomplishing much since its launch in late 2009, including successfully recruiting patients and training/certifying its RNs in record time.
Not surprisingly, the Montfort team is keen to tap into our experience and expertise.
"We know that a lot of very good work has been done here,” says RN Coordinator Judith Boileau, “so we wanted to establish a mentoring relationship that will let us share lessons learned as we get our own program off the ground in early 2012.”
Judith and two Montfort RNs who will be trained to perform FSIGs spent a busy day split between learning about the process side of the pilot project (e.g., liaising with family doctors, recruiting patients, documentation) and gowning up to observe technique and technology over the course of about a half dozen FSIG procedures. Hotel Dieu Project Lead Carol Roach steered them through the day.
“An onsite visit like this brings a new program to life,” she notes, “and I think the Ottawa team appreciated seeing how Hotel Dieu has brought together the energy and skills of clinical, professional practice and administrative staff to provide a very high quality, safe and much-needed program.”
Hotel Dieu’s program continues to grow. In the past 18 months the program has completed 487 flexible sigmoidoscopies, sending 69 individuals on to a full colonoscopy because of abnormal findings. In November alone, the program received 45 referrals. About eight FSIGs are completed weekly at Hotel Dieu—a number that will likely jump to 10 in January; the hospital is funded to perform up to 14 per week.
“We know we have a bit of a learning curve ahead of us,” says Judith, “so it’s great to have ties with an FSIG team with a good track record. I know they’ll pass along many lessons learned and encouragement as we ramp up over the coming year.”
Continuity of care for congestive heart failure patients
Whether they’re receiving care as outpatients or inpatients in our hospitals, patients with congestive heart failure in this region now have the benefit of seeing a familiar face among their caregivers.
The face belongs to Wendy Earle, an Advanced Practice Nurse/Nurse Practitioner in the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Clinic at Hotel Dieu Hospital. Now six years into that role, she has just taken on the job of also helping to manage patients admitted for heart failure at Kingston General Hospital.
“The idea is to provide continuity of care for patients moving between the outpatient and inpatient settings,” says Wendy, who splits her work week between the two hospitals to ensure patients are receiving consistent medical management and education about how to manage their heart failure.
That education is vital. Heart failure doesn’t mean a person’s heart has ground to a halt but rather that it has become weak or stiff due to heart attack, diabetes, kidney disease or chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. As a result, the heart struggles to pump blood and creates troubling symptoms such as shortness of breath.
Wendy works to improve the quality of life of people with chronic heart failure by making sure they can learn to self manage through an understanding of their medications, diet and symptoms. In the outpatient setting at Hotel Dieu, she can closely monitor patients by telephone, making sure they’re watching for red flags such as swollen ankles or sudden weight gain.
“If people are alert to early signs of trouble, then they can seek help early rather than wait until there’s no choice but a trip to the ER,” she says.
About one-third of the heart failure inpatients Wendy sees in her new consulting role at KGH are already familiar to her as regulars in the CHF Clinic at Hotel Dieu. These people may have been admitted for heart failure or for another reason.
“That’s good because I can share their history with the health care team, including the medical residents, who are eager to learn about managing heart failure,” she says.
On the other hand, two-thirds of the inpatients she attends are new to her. It’s a gap she would like to close.
“We make sure the inpatients are discharged with the information and support they need to help keep them out of the hospital,” she says. That includes referring them when appropriate to the outpatient clinics at Hotel Dieu or Picton, where research has shown that clinic participants have fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations as a result of enrolling in the CHF clinic.
Acting as a bridge across the hospitals means Wendy can help patients travel more smoothly along the path of managing a chronic condition.
“We’re trying to ease the way by providing care that follows the recommended guidelines for heart failure management and that is consistent between the inpatient and outpatient settings,” she says.
Tips for staying well in winter
Fake a good cry. Watery eyes are a common complaint in the winter. The outer surface of your eye, the cornea, has the largest density of sensory nerve endings anywhere in the body. Cold temperatures and wind irritate these nerve endings and cause tearing. Put a drop of artificial tears (available over the counter in any pharmacy) into each eye a few minutes before heading outdoors. The tears will provide a thick layer of protection over the corneal surface and decrease irritation caused by the cold and wind. Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy, Head, Dept. of Ophthalmology, Hotel Dieu Hospital
Does sun-kissed mean healthy? Read this if you—or your teens—are thinking about hitting a tanning bed before the beach this winter. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that the risk of melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) increases by 75 per cent when tanning beds are used before age 35. In 2009, The IARC and World Health Organization elevated tanning beds to the highest cancer risk category, which are substances labelled as “carcinogenic to humans.” There’s no turning back the damage to young skin caused by artificial tanning. When the tan fades, the damage will still be there. Is that sunny glow worth it? Mary Jean Short, Public Health Nurse, KFL&A Public Health
Watch what you touch. The common cold is spread mostly through objects. Studies done have demonstrated that colds are almost impossible to transmit among humans even in close contact unless a susceptible person handles an object contaminated by another cold sufferer. In other words, playing poker at a table with someone who has a cold is OK as long as you don't use the same deck of cards! The best advice to someone with a common cold: sneeze into your shoulder, not your hands or a tissue. Dr. Gerald A. Evans, Infectious Diseases, Kingston General Hospital
Be cool about exercising in cold weather. The key to a productive and safe workout as temperatures fall is preparation. Before you head outside, check the forecast. The recommended cut-off for outdoor exercise is –30°C with the wind chill, due to the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. In addition:
- Have a light meal about an hour before you work out to fuel up. In cold weather, muscles need more fuel at a faster rate and may fatigue more rapidly.
- Prepare with a warm up—running on the spot, lunges, squats, arm swings—until you feel warm from head to toe.
- Dress smart. Use layers that can be removed or added in response to your body’s heating and cooling. A toque, gloves and warm socks (preferably SmartWool fibre) will prevent heat loss; a winter face mask will moisten air travelling to the lungs; and shoes with gripping soles can prevent falls on ice.
- Stay hydrated. Even though thirst may be less noticeable in cold weather, sweating and the resulting dehydration can be a concern. A fuel belt close to the body or a thermal water bottle can keep liquids from freezing.
- Stay warm until the end of your workout by gradually decreasing the intensity of exercise and doing the final cool-down indoors. John Hope, Physiotherapist, Hotel Dieu Hospital
Charity event supports eating disorders clinic
In spite of the rapid growth of eating disorders in the past two decades, eating disorders research
continues to be underfunded, help can be scarce and costly for those suffering, and societal pressures to be
thin are at an alarming high. The EveryBODY’s Beautiful Charity event will highlight the issue of eating disorders
and help to support the eating disorders clinic at Hotel Dieu Hospital. Please join us for a fashion show, live music,
silent auction, door prizes and finger foods.
Friday, Feb. 10 at Zappas Lounge,
178 Ontario St.
Doors open at 7 pm and the show starts at 8 pm.
Tickets are $20.
Retro dance, shooting hoops benefit cancer research
Mark your calendars for the Annual Retro Dance Party on Jan. 28 and The Memorial basketball classic on Feb. 19, two popular events that target cancer research at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, dance the night away to your favourite retro tunes and help raise funds for cancer research. The 8th Annual Retro Dance Party hits the dance floor from 8 pm to 1 am at Zorba’s Banquet Hall (1474 Bath Rd.) with music provided by 80’s Enuff. Tickets are $10 at the door. All proceeds will be directed to cancer research at the Cancer Center of Southeastern Ontario. For more information email Brian McCormick or Nicole Riley at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Memorial”—the 23rd Annual Memorial Basketball Tournament Against Cancer—is slated for 6 pm, Thursday, Jan. 19 at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School (130 Russell St.) This event, which has raised close to $300,000 over the years, honours two friends who died too young from cancer and remembers all family and friends who have fought or are living with cancer. All proceeds will benefit the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario. For full details, click HERE.
Gardening Festival helps supports our hospitals
New this year, the 11th Annual Kingston Gardening Festival will be held in partnership with the Eastern Ontario Home and Cottage Expo at the Kingston Expo Centre (formerly Northern Telecom) on Riocan North Way. The festival gets takes place Feb. 24-26, with tickets $8 in advance or $10 at the door. This year's theme is Celebrating Growth. The event will be support the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, Canadian Tire Jumpstart and Cataraqui Conservation Foundation. For more details, visit http://www.kingstongardeningfestival.com/
HDH Coat Drive going strong
Hotel Dieu continues to accept gently used winter coats for its 2011/2012 Coat Drive. Donations can be dropped off at the Sydenham Street entrance. Men's coats are still urgently needed as well as men’s gloves and toques. The HDH Coat Drive will be distributing coats until Jan. 27, 2012.