New technology makes for seamless transition between working & learning
Milestone fifth year for eye professionals training program
Child Development Centre fills service gap for children in Lanark County
A small but mighty hospital service: the Brockview Cafe
Some new technology at Hotel Dieu Hospital is good news for patients and clinicians alike, says a pediatrician who knows what it means for physicians to hustle between packed patient clinics and Grand Rounds on a busy day.
Rounds are meetings where physicians and learners come together to discuss clinical problems and issues. Most departments in teaching hospitals such as Hotel Dieu and Kingston General Hospital (KGH) run regular Rounds, a traditional teaching tool in medicine that keeps clinicians current about treatments and research in their own and other fields of medicine.
Sometimes, though, it can be a sprint for medical staff to get from Rounds at one hospital site to their scheduled clinics at a different location.
Enter the new projection and teleconference/videoconference equipment in the 170-seat auditorium at Hotel Dieu. Funded by Queen’s University and supported by Hotel Dieu, it is state-of-the-art technology that provides high-quality visuals and sound that make the online learning experience as real and authentic as any classroom session.
“Attendance at Rounds has steadily increased over the last five years,” says Dr. Richard van Wylick, the Hotel Dieu-based deputy head of the Department of Pediatrics.
“And while we’ve had some equipment and space for video-conferenced Rounds, we needed to upgrade to make it easier for people at both Hotel Dieu and KGH to attend and not worry about being late for a clinic because they had to travel between hospitals. This is especially true now because about 80 clinics transferred from KGH to Hotel Dieu in early 2013.
“With the new set-up, it doesn’t matter where you’re located. You can fully participate and get to your patients on time. It’s a seamless move between learning and working.”
He expects the new technology and larger auditorium space will translate into greater attendance at Rounds and more opportunities for staff such as nurses to participate in close-at-hand learning sessions. And it allows Hotel Dieu to bring other southeastern Ontario hospitals with similar equipment—e.g., in Belleville and Brockville—to join Hotel Dieu Rounds. That all translates into better patient care.
“Care providers need to stay on top of developments in diagnostics, treatment and research so we welcome any new tool or technology that supports that education. In this case, the technology also helps us get to our clinics and patients a bit faster so we can start putting that learning into practice.”
Professional training hit a milestone at Hotel Dieu Hospital on August 18 when the Kingston Ophthalmic Training Centre (KOTC) kicked off its fifth year of producing skilled professionals considered integral to any eye care team.
The KOTC trains ophthalmic technicians and ophthalmic medical technologists, personnel who work under the direction of an eye specialist to perform or assist in eye exams, ophthalmic measurements and diagnostic procedures.
The program continues to be unique in Canada as the only one that offers both levels of training under one roof. And while the number of graduates is small—just two students per cohort to allow for intensive one-on-one clinical learning—the commitment is deep.
Since 2010, nine students have entered at the technician level and eight have opted for further training at the ophthalmic medical technologist level. Six of those eight have graduated to full-time positions at Hotel Dieu or elsewhere and two more will wrap up the technologist certification next year. As well, the KOTC has also welcomed one foreign student from Trinidad. This month, two new entry-level students entered the program.
“We don’t advertise extensively but we’re never short of applicants,” says KOTC director Craig Simms. “People seek us out because they want this career and the demand is high for these personnel.”
He explains that the program keeps evolving to ensure a premium learning experience.
For example, it has boosted input from its faculty of eye specialists and residents, increasingly utilizing them to go beyond the required curriculum to share their particular areas of expertise in eye disease, microbiology and diagnostic imaging.
As well, active research has taken a foothold in the program, with KOTC students working under the supervision of ophthalmologists, presenting projects at the annual resident research day and then preparing papers for publication.
And KOTC students now have more opportunities outside the hospital to solidify their skills, including week-long exchanges with the Ottawa Eye Institute and stints on the CNIB Eye Van, a mobile clinic that travels to remote northern Ontario communities to treat eye conditions and to perform vision screening and minor eye surgery.
“The students love the van,” says Craig. “They have a chance to step beyond the safety net of the hospital and really demonstrate what they’ve learned.”
“We’re proving that we can produce highly qualified personnel,” says Dr. Martin ten Hove, head of the department of ophthalmology at Hotel Dieu and Queen’s University.
“Our KOTC candidates are part of an expert team in an academic hospital, which significantly elevates the quality of their learning as they enter a field of medicine that is only growing as our population ages and the volume of eye patients soars.”
Every one of the KOTC students has been employed—and stayed employed—since graduation, says Craig, who emphasizes they have skills that can serve them in various settings—hospital, private practice or industry.
“They can definitely look forward to a long and rewarding career in their chosen field.”
Visit the KOTC website for more information.
Boosting skills in everyday activities such as play, schoolwork and self-care is the goal of a one-year project that will bring the expertise of the Child Development Centre (CDC) at Hotel Dieu Hospital to very young children with special needs in Lanark County.
Over the course of the next year the CDC will work in partnership with Lanark Infant and Child Development (part of Lanark Community Programs) and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre to provide a weekly Occupational Therapy (OT) consultation service for families of children ages 0 to 6. Until now, many of those families have faced long wait lists or been unable to access OT services because a child did not meet the criteria of having multiple complex needs.
“We know that it’s critical to intervene early and provide extra supports to young children with known or suspected cases of disability in order to improve their ability to function well physically, cognitively and socially as they grow older,” says CDC Director Margaret van Beers.
She explains that OTs involved in the initiative might be consulted about sensory processing needs and behaviours—for example, grinding teeth and mouthing objects—or issues of school readiness, which can involve developing a child’s fine motor strategies such as working with scissors. Margaret cites one instance where an OT provided strategies for a family whose child hated having her hair washed.
“The OTs will also advocate for families, helping them to access other community services in a more seamless fashion,” she adds.
“The consultation service is geared to helping families and local service providers collaborate to strengthen community partnerships and explore different models for delivering OT expertise.”
The one-year initiative will be funded by a $30,000 grant from the Lanark County Best Start Network, which works to ensure children in Lanark County are provided with the best learning and development opportunities to assist them in reaching their full potential as adults. The OT consultations will occur in Carleton Place and Smiths Falls.
It serves more than 900 customers every day, sells 2,000 sandwiches each week and brews up one ton of coffee every year. It hauls in about $1 million in gross sales annually and dedicates every penny of profit to better health care at Hotel Dieu Hospital.
The 96-seat Brockview Café is a small but mighty operation at Hotel Dieu, catering to patients, families and staff, along with a stream of regulars from the community who appreciate the good food and service.
“Our big customers are patients and families,” says Eugene Littlejohn, Food Services Operations Manager,” but we also have our regulars from the community such as the family that comes here every day for supper and the seniors who come most days for a hot soup and sandwich.”
The Cafe has scored both Eat Smart Awards (Gold and Bronze) for six consecutive years from KFL&A Public Health, a testament to its success in offering healthier food choices—including those packed into hospital vending machines—and to keeping a close eye on nutritional values, such as sodium content, in its food items.
That’s reassuring to the 900-plus daily Café visitors and to those patients who require onsite food services—each month the Café prepares 1100 meals for native patients and families using the hospital-based Weenebayko Patient Services, and about 170 meals for patients having an overnight stay.
Another reason for success—like any good eatery, it likes to change things up. Increasingly, that means preparing more menu items onsite.
“We’ve added equipment—a convection oven, conveyor pizza oven and panini press—that let us expand our menu,” says Eugene. The result? Freshly baked muffins, hot pizza (14 pizzas every day) and panini sandwiches that pair up Brie and cranberries or Cheddar and green apple.
Also bringing people in the door are dishes with an ethnic touch—veggie Pad Thai and chicken curry and Asian salads. And in January, the Café switched to Starbucks coffee, a brand name welcomed by many.
And the Café reaches beyond Hotel Dieu. Last year, it pulled in about $130,000 in catering deals with Hotel Dieu clients, Queen’s University, Kingston General Hospital and Providence Care. In the last three years, catering orders have jumped 65 per cent thanks to excellent food and service—the Café delivers, sets up and picks up its order and, unlike many caterers, it provides a full coffee service.
“I love the challenge of bringing in new revenue and new customers, and it’s nice to work for an organization that you know will spend the money well,” says Eugene.
He’s referring to the separately incorporated Volunteer Services to Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston, Inc., which steers all Café profits to help support hospital programs and equipment. Last year, the Café raised $120,000 for the non-profit organization, helping it to wind up a multi-year $1 million pledge to redevelopment at Hotel Dieu. Over those years, the Café raised close to $695,000 toward that pledge.
Eugene says it seems there’s a trend towards bringing food services back into the hospital, with as much food as possible being freshly prepared on site. As of late July 2014, sales in the Brockview Café were up $80,000 from the year before, suggesting a kind of “if you feed them, they will come” phenomenon at Hotel Dieu.
“Now,” he says, “if I just had a bigger kitchen…”
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