hdhEnews issue: August 16, 2013

Inside this issue:

Ask the Expert: Youth, sports and sudden cardiac death
“It’s amazing how far $500 can go!”
Top of podium for workplace wellness
Wow...Twenty years of heart-healthy food and friendship
Patient Experience Advisor works to make things connect

Ask the Expert: Youth, sports and sudden cardiac death

Dr. Simpson“I sometimes read about young athletes dying from previously undiagnosed heart conditions. I’ll have two daughters heavily involved in sports this coming school year. Should I have them tested? What kinds of tests would be involved?”

Dr. Chris Simpson, Medical Director, Cardiac Programs, Hotel Dieu Hospital and Kingston General Hospital responds: While rare, sudden death in young athletes is always a tragic event. It seems highly ironic that a young person who seems to be the epitome of good health should fall victim to such an unexpected tragedy.

There are a number of conditions and circumstances that may lead to sudden death in young people. Some of these conditions are inherited cardiac structural problems such as abnormally formed coronary arteries, abnormal thickening of the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and an abnormal collection of fat and scar tissue in the heart (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy or ARVC), to name a few.

Other inherited conditions involve abnormalities of the electrical functioning of the heart such as Long QT Syndrome, Brugada Syndrome, and Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT). Some sudden deaths are related to environmental or circumstantial events such as a baseball to the chest that hits at the vulnerable part of the cardiac cycle, causing cardiac arrest (commotio cordis) or from arrhythmias caused by drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and other stimulants.

Some jurisdictions in the world, like Italy, have recommended that every high school athlete should have a screening electrocardiogram (ECG) done. The US and Canada have not adopted this approach since the ECG alone is not an adequate enough tool to either confirm or rule out the presence of an inherited heart condition that might increase the risk for sudden death.

The best general rule of thumb in your young athlete is to recognize the warning signs that an inherited heart disease might be present:

  1. Has the athlete had syncope (fainting or perhaps even a seizure) during exercise or as the result of emotional stress, a startle or a loud noise?
  2. Is there anyone in the family—particularly a young, otherwise healthy person—who has suffered sudden death (not a heart attack (myocardial infarction) but sudden, unexpected death)?
  3. Has anyone in the family died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or drowned, despite being a good swimmer?

If the answer is “yes” to any one of these questions, you should ask your family doctor to refer your young athlete to a cardiologist.

For more information on sudden death and on inherited heart rhythm diseases, visit the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society website or the Canadian Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome Foundation website.

"It's amazing how far $500 can go!"

That was Lynn Reid’s take on the brand new Patient & Family-Centred Care (PFCC) Grant recently awarded to the Adult Mental Health program to refresh a group therapy room in the Johnson wing.

Launched earlier this year, the small PFCC grants—totaling $2000 per year—are available to help enhance the patient care experience at Hotel Dieu. The funds can support any number of one-time projects or initiatives such as revitalizing spaces, adding artwork, supporting patient educational materials and more.

An intake coordinator in the Mental Health Program, Lynn made a successful pitch for money to spruce up the group therapy room, a somewhat spartan setting that has been transformed into an inviting space that neatly balances comfort and professionalism. New floor lamps soften the lighting, while artwork and cushions in rich earth tones add interest and dimension to the room.

“I think it will have a relaxing effect on patients and families,” says Sharon Noseworthy, a Patient Experience Advisor at the hospital and also chair of the PFCC Grant Committee. “It’s wonderful the difference even a few hundred dollars can make!”

The Committee also granted $500 to staff in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Program who requested funds to help mount, frame and display artwork by young patients. The program expects to unveil their results later this year.

Top of podium when it comes to workplace wellness

awardKFL&A Public Health has once again awarded Hotel Dieu its Workplace Wellness Gold Award, which recognizes the hospital’s ongoing commitment and support for workplace wellness initiatives.

Hotel Dieu was applauded for including awareness-raising, motivation/skill building, environmental support, and policy development in five health promotion areas—physical activity, cancer screening/prevention, alcohol substance misuse prevention, infectious disease prevention and work stress.

In Public Health’s scoring system, the hospital jumped 65 points over its score from last year.

“The variety of strategies and activities that you incorporated into your programs was very impressive,” says Caulette McBride of Public Health’s Workplace Wellness Program. “Achieving success in five of the topic areas is commendable. And congratulations on achieving the EatSmart Gold Award, developing a healthy eating policy and offering foods that are specific to dietary needs in the Brockview Café.”

The hospital will pick up the award in October at a special KFL&A Public Health event.

Wow...Twenty years of heart-healthy food and friendship

Every year, current participants and graduates of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre (CRC) program have gathered annually to break (healthy) bread. This year their long-running popular potluck hits the 20 year mark. That’s a lot of salad and a lot of sharing.

“It always feels like a family in the CRC,” says physiotherapist Diana Hopkins-Rosseel, a professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University who started the CRC in 1987 to help individuals with heart disease participate in a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program.

“In the early days of the program, we wanted a way to reconnect with patients after they had left the program, so we landed on the idea of an annual backyard BBQ that brought staff, patients and families back together and gave us a chance to remind people to keep up the healthy habits.”

Over the years, the event has jumped around a few backyards and morphed from a meal catered entirely by CRC staff to one where all the guests now bring a heart-healthy dish. In the beginning, that request itself was an eye-opener, laughs Hopkins-Rosseel, who recalls clients showing up in the host's backyard with big chocolate cakes.

“We would gently remind them that cake wasn’t exactly a heart-healthy choice,” she says. “They got the message. Now we have fabulous and very healthy dishes!”

After 20 years, the event still draws on average about 100 current participating clients and graduates of the CRC, and, so far, it has never rained. Fingers crossed for 20 more years of good food and good friendships.

This year’s potluck is slated for 5:30-7:30 pm, Friday, Sept. 13. All current participants and graduates of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre are welcome. Please bring a heart healthy dish to share, lawn chair and your partner/friend. For more details, please call 613-544-3400 extension 3123 or visit the Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre website.

Patient Experience Advisor works to make things connect

Patient Experience AdvisorWhen Lynda McArthur decided to take a run at being one of the first Patient Experience Advisors (PEAs) at Hotel Dieu Hospital she was already in volunteer mode, keeping her administrative skills sharp in retirement by helping out with paperwork, document reviews and interviews in the Volunteer Resources department. A cancer survivor, she was also clocking time greeting patients at the Cancer Centre welcome desk at Kingston General Hospital.

Then she found a reason to push her efforts a bit further. When a family member’s inpatient stays at other hospitals started giving her a closer look at the day-to-day operations of patient care, she decided to be a voice for those who are ill and the families who care for them.

“PEAs aren’t people who just pop in off the street with the odd problem,” she says. “They’re people who have gone through something and want to talk about issues that concern them and others who might be going through the same things.”

Now she chairs Hotel Dieu’s Patient & Family Council, comprised of 10 PEAs. For her, their work is about helping to close some gaps in health care.

“Everyone who cares for patients should be thinking, ‘I’m part of this person’s care. This patient is depending on me,’” she says. “It’s about being aware of the whole care process not just your little piece of it. It’s about making all the right links.”

Apart from chairing the Council, she has gravitated in her PEA role—not surprisingly—to people-oriented tasks such as speaking at the hospital’s annual general meeting and reviewing staff proposals for projects that will strengthen patient and family-centred care at Hotel Dieu. And she has been instrumental in producing a pocket-sized calling card that PEAs can pass along to others interested in joining the PEA fold.

Not even a year old, the Patient & Family Council has already accomplished a lot, she says, with more opportunities being added to a list that includes reviewing hospital policies, helping to create patient surveys and education materials, and speaking at public events. Personally, she’s keen to help with way finding in the hospital and to sit on interview panels for new job applicants, as well as being open to other speaking or service opportunities.

“With this Council, Hotel Dieu is showing how much it cares for patients and families,” she says. “It’s exciting to be on the ground floor of this work and to be part of its unfolding day by day. Who knows where it will take us?”