hdhEnews issue: April 23, 2013

Inside this issue:

Nursing students eager for field placement at Hotel Dieu
Elevator tower near completion; new construction underway
Patient Experience Advisors: Bringing perspective to the picture
Celebrating the helping hands, big hearts of HDH volunteers
Our Brockview Café brings home a gold for excellence
Parting gift honours patient’s brother, thanks clinic staff

Nursing students eager for field placement at Hotel Dieu

nursing studentsHotel Dieu Hospital experienced an upswing in the number of nursing students this year thanks to a new model of field placement that brought college and university nursing faculty on site to provide direct instruction and supervision to their learners.

During the 2012-2013 academic year, the hospital provided field placements for 77 nursing students from St. Lawrence College, a jump from the previous year when less than half that number served placements here. Hotel Dieu also welcomed students from the Bachelor of Nursing Science program at Queen’s University.

“As a teaching hospital, we’re always looking for ways to improve the clinical learning experience,” says Mike McDonald, Chief of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Executive.

“While our staff nurses have always been very supportive of students, we decided to implement a new model that put nursing faculty right in the clinics with the learners to ensure they had a consistent ‘go-to’ person for their questions and concerns.”

Mike says the nursing students have been “thrilled” with the new model, a reaction confirmed by Margo Marrison, a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) at Hotel Dieu who also works two days per week as clinical instructor for second-year Practical Nursing students at St. Lawrence.

This year, Margo’s students were spread across adult, pediatric and ophthalmology and perianesthesia areas, where they could always quickly touch base with her on everything from handling sterile procedure trays to charting to educating patients about health issues.

“It was an ideal set-up for the students,” says Margo, a veteran RPN with longtime experience in Hotel Dieu’s adult clinics. “They could tap into me as a college instructor and also as someone who is very familiar with these clinics and staff. That helped when we asked to move beyond the clinics—for example, to observe a colonoscopy or surgical procedure. My clinical colleagues were very welcoming to this next generation of nurses.”

Second-year student Kaytie Campman praised the new placement model for ensuring that “someone was always there” when she needed feedback.

“I want to practice in an outpatient setting when I graduate so I really benefited from my Hotel Dieu placement,” she says. “We had many busy clinics to cover and a range of duties including assessing patients and lots of health teaching. It was so helpful having a clinical instructor with us and knowing there was always someone we could turn to with questions.”

Given the steady increase in ambulatory health care, Mike stresses the importance of building a robust field placement program at Hotel Dieu, the centre of most specialized ambulatory care in this region.

“These student nurses are learning about treating chronic illness in a community and outpatient setting, which involves short episodes of care coupled with health education and health promotion. It’s a different skill set than the one used in an inpatient environment,” he explains.

Margo says it’s a skill set her students are obviously keen to grasp.

“They see future opportunities in ambulatory care and many are asking to return for their final consolidating placements at Hotel Dieu because they’ve had such a positive experience here.”

Elevator tower near completion; new construction underway

HDH elevator constructionWith the clinical pieces of our $20 million redevelopment project up and running we’re now closing in on completing the final component of the project, the eight-storey elevator tower, and staying on track with other construction projects in the hospital.

Crews are busy with the final architectural and electrical work in the elevator lobbies in the new elevator tower, located on the Johnson Street side of the hospital. Expected to be operational by the end of April, the new elevator/stairwell areas will provide plenty of natural light and beautiful views of the city and lake, and they will help to offload some of the busy traffic on our main elevators.

Construction is nearing the halfway mark on our ophthalmology lane expansion on Jeanne Mance 6, a project that includes building five new ophthalmology examination lanes, a diagnostics space and waiting area. This expansion will help to support the rapidly escalating numbers of eye patients coming to Hotel Dieu—more than 70,000 visits per year. Construction is expected to wrap up by the middle of May.

And we’ve opened up more space in the main lobby by removing some bulky planters adjacent to the central elevators. When refinished and re-tiled, the resulting space will give patients, families and visitors—including those in wheelchairs—extra room to wait for and maneuver in/out of elevators. Overall, the additional space will help to improve circulation within our busy lobby.

Patient Experience Advisors: Bringing perspective to the picture

HDH Patient Experience AdvisorDeciding to become a Patient Experience Advisor at Hotel Dieu Hospital was an easy choice for Linda Henson, a firm believer in the notion of “it takes a village” to grow anything well, including a topnotch facility for outpatient care.

A care coordinator with the Community Care Access Centre, Linda had successful joint replacement surgery at Hotel Dieu in 2010 and then signed on as one of the hospital’s first Patient Experience Advisors last year. The voluntary role gives patients and families a voice in improving the quality and safety of care at Hotel Dieu, with the opportunity for input on everything from staff orientation to directional signage to hospital policies.

“If you want something to grow and get better, then everyone has to be involved at all levels,” says Linda. “You need to put heads together to figure out what’s working or not.”

She describes Patient Experience Advisors as the people who can help an organization to open up its cupboards and spot the dust balls.

“We might catch some diamond glints in that dust—things worth saving—but our aim is to leave the cupboard much cleaner,” she says laughing.

Linda sits on Hotel Dieu’s Patient and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) steering committee and is helping to implement the PFCC principles of dignity/respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration as a best practice guideline in the hospital.

Down the line she’s interested in more committee work and also has her eye on helping hospital volunteers with a few shifts on the Information Desk.

“I’m very interested in sitting at the front desk, watching the flow of patients and hearing their stories,” she says. “That’s how you learn what’s going on and what could be improved. You also find out where staff are doing a good job, a message that should also be passed along.”

While Hotel Dieu already has a reputation for putting patients and families at the centre of care, she says, the launch of a PFCC program formalizes that philosophy. And she believes that Patient Experience Advisors are key to the sustainability of the PFCC culture.

“The challenge is always to keep something going,” she observes.

“I think we have a role in helping the organization stay focused on what makes a difference. It could be as simple as mentioning that a warm greeting goes a long way towards improving someone’s clinic visit. Our job is to be the outsiders looking in. We bring perspective, which we all need because no one ever has the whole picture.”

For Linda, having the chance to provide that perspective as a Patient Experience Advisor is the best of all worlds.

“You meet other Advisors of many different backgrounds, you’re learning how hospitals and health care works and you can choose among various very interesting projects,” she says.

“Best of all, you get to speak up and know that others are listening to you, and that you’re helping your community. It’s a great experience.”

Celebrating the helping hands, big hearts of HDH volunteers

HDH volunteersOn the cusp of National Volunteer Week 2013 (April 21-27), Rita Coyne clocked her 400th hour as a volunteer in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre, where she has been a familiar face for seven years and counting.

Actually, Rita has been volunteering at Hotel Dieu for about 10 years—almost the entire time she has been retired from teaching—but her longest and most satisfying stint has been in Cardiac Rehab. You’ll find her there Wednesday mornings, tackling odd jobs that range from collating education materials to calling patients with appointment reminders to grabbing a cloth to wipe down the cardio equipment.

“I love every minute,” she says. “Cardiac Rehab has a really positive vibe because the patients feel so lucky to be here and on the road to recovery.

“You can tell what it means to them because so many continue to drop in even after they finish their rehab program. They say they feel part of this place so they just want to keep coming back.”

Ditto for Rita, who says that volunteering in Cardiac Rehab has been such a joy that she has put down her volunteer roots there for the moment.

“It’s a gem of a program. I get as much out of being here as the patients,” she says. “There’s immediate gratification from doing my little jobs, plus I’m meeting new people and hearing new stories all the time. And whatever I do, the staff is always supportive and grateful. ”

That gratitude extends to hundreds of Hotel Dieu volunteers during National Volunteer Week—235 volunteers, to be exact, who donated 18,675 hours in more than 30 areas across the hospital last year.

“They’re amazing numbers that reflect an amazing spirit of generosity,” says Jennifer Sawyer, Coordinator of Volunteer Resources. “We’re all extremely grateful for our volunteers. And we’re delighted to work with community volunteers such as Rita to find the best way to help them help Hotel Dieu.

Volunteer acheivement awardsIn the case of the Cardiac Rehab Centre, she says, volunteers may be greeting patients or motivating them to complete their exercise routine or assembling workshop materials. Elsewhere, they could be staffing the snack cart, helping in the gift shop or providing helpful directions around the hospital.

“At the end of the day, our volunteers are actively contributing to a happy and friendly clinic environment. That’s what matters to them and it dovetails exactly with what matters most for patients and families.”

During each National Volunteer week since 2009, Volunteer Services has been honouring three individuals at Hotel Dieu with Volunteer Achievement Awards. Nominees and recipients are selected by their peers for their contributions to promoting and enhancing the volunteer program. This year’s recipients are:

  • Marla Girvan, a Physiotherapist with Cardiac Rehab Centre
  • Kim Kelly, Volunteer Convenor of the Brock Boutique
  • Jeffrey Au-Yeung, Student Volunteer in Cardiac Rehab and on the Snack Cart.


Our Brockview Café brings home a gold for excellence

HDH cafe awardHotel Dieu Hospital’s Brockview Café has been awarded the 2013-2014 Gold Eat Smart! Workplace Program Award of Excellence by KFL&A Public Health.

Presented April 18, the award recognizes the Brockview Café at Hotel Dieu for its outstanding commitment to safe and healthy food choices, a big plus not just for patients and families but also for staff who benefit from healthy eating options during the workday, says Food Services Manager Eugene Littlejohn.

“The average employed Canadian adult spends about 60 per cent of their waking hours at work, and most employees eat at least one meal during their work hours,” says Eugene, “so the workplace is an ideal setting to promote healthy eating.”

After scoring Bronze Eat Smart! Awards for the past several years, Hotel Dieu is one of only two workplaces in the region to earn Gold status this year. It made the jump thanks to new pricing, placement and promotion strategies in the Brockview Café that made healthier food choices more visible and attractive to Café customers. In addition, Food Services made sure that healthy food options were labelled in hospital vending machine and it implemented a policy that outlines guiding principles for choosing healthy foods for meetings and events.

“Participating in the workplace program at the Gold level shows the organisation’s commitment to employee health,” says Eugene, “and since the Café is open to visitors to the hospital, it also demonstrates a commitment to having healthier choices available to the wider community.”

Parting gift honours patient’s brother, thanks clinic staff

After many years in Kingston, which included visits as a patient to the Infection and Immunology clinic, Gary Cousins was packing up to leave town recently when he set aside a special gift for the clinic in memory of his late brother Robert.

In mid-April, Gary—an artist and medical illustrator who has also had careers in education and public relations—presented a brilliantly coloured abstract expressionist painting entitled Afterburner to clinic staff. The acrylic on canvas artwork captures the burst of energy that occurs when a spacecraft’s retro rocket injects fuel into its fiery exhaust gases.

“My brother died of AIDS in 1993,” says Gary, “and I wanted to thank this clinic’s staff and physicians for the superb care and support he and so many others have received here. Clinicians such as Peter and Sally Ford, who started this clinic originally at Kingston General Hospital, and now director Dr. Wendy Wobeser have also been instrumental in my care over the years. They do a wonderful job.”

The painting will hang in the clinic’s patient waiting area.