hdhEnews issue: February 18, 2016

Inside this issue:

New initiatives boost child and adolescent mental health in our region
Hotel Dieu lands “Awesome” speaker for 2016 Leadership Breakfast
Profiling French language services in Kingston’s hospitals
SE LHIN invites feedback on proposed health system change
Rexall Foundation funds telemedicine program at Hotel Dieu Hospital
Posting a special note of welcome


New initiatives boost child and adolescent mental health in our region

Mental health treatment for children and adolescents in our region is getting a boost thanks to two new initiatives at Hotel Dieu Hospital, both designed to ease the anxiety and confusion that can accompany new or chronic mental health issues.

For starters, the introduction of a centralized triage system means children and adolescents struggling with mood or anxiety disorders are getting the care they need more quickly, says psychiatrist Dr. Sarosh Khalid-Khan, Chair of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hotel Dieu and Queen’s University.

Previously, she explains, a child would be referred by a family doctor to both Pathways for Children & Youth, a community mental health agency, and to the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Hotel Dieu, which sees about 500 children each year in its mood and anxiety clinic.  That dual referral, she says, inflated the wait lists at both Pathways and the hospital.

“Parents weren’t sure which way to turn,” she says, “and the wait times for a hospital visit could be long, which is hard for the whole family when a child is not doing well.”

Now, the hospital and Pathways have partnered to launch a centralized triage process, with Pathways being the first stop for all child and adolescent mood and anxiety referrals from several local Family Health Teams.  Patients who present with mild to moderate symptoms are treated at Pathways, often with psychiatric input, while those with moderate to severe symptoms are referred to Hotel Dieu. 

“This triage system translates into a common gateway for referrals,” says Dr. Khalid-Khan.  “And it’s fast.  Patients are contacted about an appointment within 48 hours.  Family doctors are also notified so the loop is closed for them right away, not months later.

“Streamlining the referral process also means that there are fewer patients being referred to multiple child and adolescent mental health sites, and that the available resources in the community are being used more effectively.”

The centralized triage project has received $175,000 from the South East LHIN for two years and includes a research team that is tracking wait times and working to expand the scope of the project to fold in other Family Health Teams across the community. Supported by a $25,000 grant from the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation, the Division psychiatrists are now working to expand the centralized triage to include neurodevelopmental disorders.  

A second initiative is the new Managing Powerful Emotions group, created in collaboration with Providence Care.  The 20-week program is designed for youth who have mood problems and who rely on maladaptive coping behaviours such as superficial cutting, purging or substance abuse to manage their distress. 

“These youth can be chronic users of inpatient, emergency and urgent care services, which is why they require intensive treatment lasting a longer time,” says Patricia Marchand, the social worker who leads the group. 

Amidst that whirlwind of emotions, says Marchand, the Managing Powerful Emotions group functions as a safe and stable space where kids can focus on how to recognize their emotions and what triggers them.

“The focus is not on their bad behavior,” she says, “but on personal coping mechanisms that will help them to better tolerate and regulate their emotions.”

The group comes with certain rules:  participants are expected to commit to ensuring that all persons regardless of ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or expression of gender/sexuality are respected within a safe space.  And they are expected to attend regularly and to complete weekly assignments such as choosing and practicing a personalized positive coping behaviour for the upcoming week and then reporting back on how they used or could have used the skill.

“So far, so good,” says Marchand.  Of the 15 participants in the first Managing Powerful Emotions session, 12 stayed the course and their number of hospitalizations, and visits to the Emergency Department and urgent clinic have dropped dramatically. More notably, their symptoms of distress have decreased.

“It’s wonderful to see how they use empathy, reflection and the new coping skills while relating to each other,” says Marchand.  “That’s where the magic happens.”


Hotel Dieu lands “Awesome” speaker for 2016 Leadership Breakfast

Bestselling author of The Book of Awesome, Neil Pasricha, is the featured speaker at the 2016 Hotel Dieu Hospital Leadership Breakfast on May 19.

Based on the award-winning blog 1000awesomethings.com, The Book of Awesome is celebration of life's little moments and the underappreciated, simple things that make us happy, from popping bubble wrap to hitting a bunch of green lights in a row. With wise, witty observations from writer Neil Pasricha, the book is filled with musings that make readers feel like kids looking at the world for the first time.

To order Leadership Breakfast tickets or obtain more information, please e-mail events@uhkf.ca or call 613-549-5452 ext. 5915.

The Book of Awesome Save the Date


Profiling French language services in Kingston’s hospitals 

Accessing healthcare services in French in our hospitals will be front and centre at Kingston’s Hospitals & Healthcare in French, a community engagement event taking place 5-6:30 pm, Wednesday, March 9 at the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre at CFB Kingston.

“Kingston’s hospitals are ‘identified agencies’ under the French Language Services Act, which means we’re working hard to improve access to French-language services in our organizations,” says Elizabeth Bardon, Chief of Public Relations and Community Engagement at Hotel Dieu.

“This work will take time.  At Hotel Dieu, we’re been moving forward quickly with components of an implementation plan such as installing bilingual signage, developing bilingual recruitment materials and assessing the French-language skills our staff.”

She says the March 9 community event—which will be conducted entirely in French—will be a chance for the Francophone community to learn how Hotel Dieu, Kingston General Hospital and Providence Care are working to improve access for French-speaking patients and families.

In addition, those attending the event will have the opportunity to meet a bilingual clinician from Hotel Dieu.  Dr. Julie Blais, a psychologist in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Program, will give a brief overview of the program, discuss the warning signs of mental illness in children and focus on how parents can seek help.

The early evening session runs from 5-6:30 pm at the Batoche Community Centre, 32 Lundy’s Lane, CFB Kingston.  Refreshments will be served.  To RSVP, please call 613-544-3400, ext. 4204.


Person holding thank you card

SE LHIN invites feedback on proposed health system changes

The South East Local Health Integration Network is inviting feedback on Patients First: A Proposal to Strengthen Patient Centred Healthcare, a discussion paper that was released in December by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

Patients First outlines potential changes for the health system. The proposed structural changes would see LHINs assume responsibility for home care and the planning and monitoring of primary care, and have improved linkages with population health planning.

As part of the South East LHIN’s commitment to engaging communities, several opportunities are being provided for members of the public to learn more about the proposal, as well as provide feedback.  Several in-person information sessions have already taken place throughout February across the SE LHIN, and an online survey is open for your input until Friday, Feb. 26.

You can view on online webinar about the Patients First proposal and complete the online survey here.


Foundation members accept cheque from Rexall Foundation Group PhotoRexall Foundation funds telemedicine program at Hotel Dieu Hospital

The Rexall Foundation has donated $27,300 to establish a Telemedicine Consult and Assessment Program as part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Consult Clinic at Hotel Dieu Hospital.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Consult Clinic provides urgently-needed mental health services to over 500 adolescents each year, half of whom are travelling from areas outside of Kingston to access this care. The introduction of a Telemedicine Consult and Assessment Program will give young patients in rural areas or with barriers to accessibility the opportunity to receive treatment and consultation via videoconference through a secure Ontario Telemedicine Network connection.

“Telemedicine gives patients real-time access to the staff in the clinic,” says Mike McDonald, Chief of Patient Care at Hotel Dieu. “If you’re living in Bancroft and you need to talk to someone, we can arrange for you to be talking to our team here in Kingston without travelling. It brings the clinics from Kingston to those rural patients and families.”

University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) is delighted with the donation, says Board of Directors member Pat McCue.

“This gift will have a positive impact on many young people who may not have the ability to get to Kingston for the care they so urgently need. It’s an impact that will be made in the lives of children and youth from across Southeastern Ontario for years to come.”

Since 2002, the Rexall Foundation has been helping build strong communities by supporting charitable organizations in cities where Rexall stores are located. This is their first gift to Kingston’s hospitals.

“We’re thrilled to know that the Rexall Foundation’s donation will play a role in helping families in the Kingston and surrounding areas access the important mental health services they need,” said Christopher Garnett, Regional Director for Rexall.

Photo: The Rexall Foundation, UHKF and staff from Child & Adolescent Mental Health celebrated a generous gift that will bring telemedicine consulting and assessment services to young mental health patients across our region.


Susan with her post-itPosting a special note of welcome

As we head towards International Mother Language Day on Feb. 21, one Hotel Dieu clinic is already celebrating—every single day—the many languages and cultures of our patients and families through something as simple as a Post-It note.

Stunned by the Paris and Beirut bombings last year, Registration Clerk Susan Feltham was moved to write a short message—Paix et Amour—(right) on a Post-It that she stuck to the back of her computer monitor in Hotel Dieu’s busy Brock 1 outpatient clinic. 

“After the attacks,” she says, “I really just wanted to do something that would help bring people together in my own small way. And it has worked marvellously.”

Before long, patients started noticing the note and asking if they could add their own.  That single note has now spawned dozens more that blanket Susan’s monitor and the plexiglass windows on either side of her registration desk.  The languages and messaging are equally plentiful—Dutch, Cantonese, Danish, Tamil, Urdu, Polish, Spanish—even Latin.  One message reads “Wishing everyone smooth waters in future.” Another urges “Have a good life, everyone.”  Many bear Christmas messages of peace and goodwill.  One just says, “Love each other.”

“We routinely ask patients about their mother tongue as part of a demographics check so that our patient records are accurate,” says Susan. “When chatting about that, patients immediately zero in on the Post-Its and enquire about them.  After explaining, I always ask if they want to add their own.  No one has turned me down yet.  They’re very happy to contribute their own special message.”

The Post-Its are also a great conversation starter, she says.

“I think those little yellow notes break the ice and say ‘welcome’ before I even open my mouth,” she says with a laugh. “I see family members nudging each other when they see their mother tongue there.  They’re excited to see their language represented or to post a message so that those coming after feel welcome, too.”