Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Forget the future… your donations are needed today. Please give!

There has been a lot of talk in Muskoka about the future of health care in our area. Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s (MAHC) planning work around the future of hospital care continues. More recently, another group called the Muskoka and Area Health System Transformation (MAHST) has been looking more broadly at how health care is provided across the entire region, not just in hospital.

All of this planning is important to having a defined road map for the future. At MAHC, we expect the work of MAHST will help to shape the future plans for acute care and the hospitals. But we also know that this planning work has left our residents, both permanent and seasonal, with a certain amount of uncertainty about the future. The MAHST work that is being done now is part of a long-range planning exercise that contemplates the region’s future health care needs. Please rest assured that for many years to come, the two existing hospital sites in Muskoka will be here as it typically takes 15 to 20 years to successfully work through all of the required planning stages and approvals to build or redevelop a hospital.

I believe this is truly an exciting time for health care in Muskoka and area and collectively through MAHST we are on a solid pathway toward a future 'made in Muskoka' vision that transforms  health care service delivery in our region. MAHST's objective is to look at all the health care services to see what efficiencies can be realized, to identify gaps and improve system connectedness to better the patient’s and family’s journey.

While these discussions are necessary and important, emotional reactions are only natural: apprehension, uneasiness and even fear surface. This uneasiness could lead to an erosion of philanthropic support for our hospitals. Without donor support for our millions in capital needs and technology, the present-day care we provide is at risk.  Although the province pays for hospital operations, the community – through fundraising events, donations and other forms of support –  is expected to pay for most of the hospitals' new equipment. The government does not provide dollars for making sure we keep pace with technology. Our buildings are getting older and so are the basic tools that our teams use to look after you and keep you safe. We have more than $8 million in capital needs, and that doesn't include $30 million in infrastructure needs, like roof replacements, outdated elevator controls, and so on.

It is critical that we all do what we can to invest in hospital care today, so we can maintain the high level of patient care we expect and deserve. Our hospital foundations continue to need your generous support and we need this support now more than ever. Millions of dollars are required annually.

In community hospitals like ours, the impact of your donation is significant. Donations make a difference every day in providing patients with high quality, safe care, and in recruiting the best providers to our team. Every penny counts. Please give what you can and help MAHC save lives and provide the best care we can. The future is important and needs to be planned for, but supporting our current needs is equally important to ensure current sustainability of care.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Patient and Family Handbook Supports the Patient Experience

Oftentimes a hospital stay is unplanned and you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. While you are staying at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC), it is important to us that you know as much about our hospital sites as possible so you are comfortable in your surroundings.

Handbook cover
Handbook cover
To improve the patient experience at MAHC, we are launching a new Patient and Family Handbook to share information upon your admission about our hospital facilities, what to expect during your hospital stay, ways in which your care team works to keep you safe, and how you can be involved as a partner in your care.

I encourage you to use your handbook, and most importantly your very own diary section on the centerfold where you or your family members can document your care journey. You can use it to write down instructions from your care team, note medications and/or other needs you may have, reminders of upcoming appointments or follow-up items after you have been discharged, or to jot down any questions you may have so you don’t forget to ask them.

I encourage you to take your handbook with you when you leave the hospital so that you have an ongoing resource about MAHC at your fingertips anytime. The handbook is also available on our website, so please do have a look!

We are proud to be able to provide this informative package to inpatients, which was created at no charge for MAHC thanks to appropriate community advertising that has supported the production and printing of the handbook. A big thank you goes out to all the local advertisers for their support! We couldn’t have done this for our patients without you!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Engaging a Patient and Family Voice at MAHC

The patient and family perspective has never been more important or influential in health care than it is today. It is only when we see health care through the eyes of patients and their families that we can truly improve their experience.

Building on MAHC’s vision to centre care around patients and families, we have formed a Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare. The committee includes 10 volunteer Patient/Family Advisors who come from different walks of life and different pockets of Muskoka. But the one thing they all have in common is their desire to share their own perspectives and that would benefit other patients’ and families’ experiences. A Patient/Family Advisor is someone who has had a recent experience either as a patient, or the family member of a patient being cared for at MAHC.

MAHC’s new Patient and Family Advisory Committee provides a venue to bring the patient and family perspective into consideration when we develop policies, programs and services. It provides us with another way to listen to our patients and improve their experience, and an opportunity for patients and families to provide targeted feedback to us when we are developing new programs or initiatives, making changes to our buildings and creating new processes.

I am very proud to introduce MAHC’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee, which met for the first time on January 18, 2017. The committee includes Debbie Provan, Donna Denny, Aaron Goodchild, Tammy Purvis-Ford, Robert Martin, Trudy Franklin, Linda Shier, Pat Looker, Bill Paterson and Brian Ferguson, and members of MAHC’s administration. The committee is co-chaired by Chief Quality & Nursing Executive Karen Fleming, and Donna Denny.

MAHC's Patient and Family Advisory Committee
Front row (from left) are Debbie Provan, MAHC Chief Quality & Nursing Executive Karen Fleming, Donna Denny and Aaron Goodchild.  Back row (from left) are MAHC Executive Assistant Christine Loshaw, Tammy Purvis-Ford, Robert Martin, Trudy Franklin, HDMH Manager of Support Services Bev Leslie-Suddaby, Linda Shier, Pat Looker, Bill Paterson and MAHC Chief Executive Officer Natalie Bubela. Absent from photo is Brian Ferguson.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Understanding Influenza: Is it a Cold or the Flu?

Fighting a bug is never fun, but how can you get better if you don’t know what you’re dealing with? Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to tell the difference.
Influenza, or the seasonal flu, is a common and highly contagious and infectious respiratory disease that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Influenza viruses can change rapidly and that’s why there is a new flu shot made every year to protect against what is anticipated to be the three most common circulating virus strains. The flu shot is safe and is your best protection against influenza.
The common cold, on the other hand, is a mild infection of the nose and throat caused by a variety of viruses. Although a cold might linger, the symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, cough and sore throat, remain mild.

While some of the symptoms of influenza are the same as the common cold, the flu almost always presents with a sudden onset of cough and fever. It is also common to feel fatigue, muscle aches, a headache and a decreased appetite. Sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of the flu. The flu lasts longer and is more severe than a cold. And don’t forget influenza is contagious to others for 24 hours before you feel any symptoms and for an additional five days from the onset of symptoms.
High (37.7c – 38.8c)
Can last three to four days
General Aches/Pains
Often Severe
Fatigue, Weakness
Can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion
Stuffy Nose
Sore Throat
Mild to moderate
Can become severe
Sinus congestion, asthma, earache
Bronchitis, pneumonia, possible hospitalization
Clean your hands often
Avoid sick people
Influenza vaccine once a year
Clean your hands often
Over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms
Over-the-counter products to relieve symptoms
Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) within 24-48 hours after symptoms start
Some people shrug off the flu, thinking it’s a cold. If you have flu-like symptoms and are at greater risk of developing complications if you do get sick, contact a health care provider as soon as possible. See your family doctor about antiviral medication, get lots of rest, eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. Children under six years of age and pregnant women are just two examples of people at risk of complications. People with chronic conditions such as heart disease, liver or kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes, asthma and chronic lung disease and those who are immunosuppressed can also be compromised and are at high risk for complications from the flu.
If you come down with the flu, please avoid visiting MAHC’s Emergency Departments unless your symptoms worsen. This is because many of our patients in the hospital are at greater risk of complications from the flu. They tend to be more susceptible to infection and that’s why we ask that you do not visit if you are ill with any respiratory illness.
Have you been vaccinated? It’s not too late. The flu shot is your best chance at protecting not only yourself, but your friends and family from infection. Keep in mind that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to offer you full protection. It’s also important to remember the age old rules for protecting yourself and others from influenza and the common cold:
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water;
  • Stay home if you feel unwell;
  • Stay at least six feet away from people who are ill;
  • Avoid touching your face;
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched items and surfaces;
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.

Friday, 30 September 2016

MAHC’s 2016 Community Health Bulletin is Hot off the Presses!

I am pleased to invite you to explore Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s 2016 Community Health Bulletin. Like an annual report, the Community Health Bulletin newsletter is dedicated to keeping our communities across the Muskoka and East Parry Sound regions updated on what we’ve been up to at MAHC over the past year, and highlights some of the exceptional work of our teams. MAHC’s success and the outstanding care that we aim to provide are because of the hard work and dedication of our staff and physicians, and Board, Foundation and Auxiliary volunteers. Everything from getting to know our Board of Directors to some of the special projects that support improved quality and patient safety, the 2016 Community Health Bulletin demonstrates that we have a lot to celebrate and be proud of!

It is because of our people that we are achieving our mission to proudly serve our communities and deliver best patient outcomes with high standards and compassion. Through our Strategic Plan, our focus is on five key strategic areas: Quality Care & Safety, Partnerships & Collaboration, Education & Innovation, People, and Sustainable Future. This annual community newsletter showcases some of the achievements we have made on these strategic directions, as well as important initiatives underway over the course of the past year. MAHC is proud to play an active role in the local health care system, working to deliver the very best to our patients every day though safe, high-quality, sustainable care.

Watch for your copy in the mail the first week of October and find out more about what’s happening at your hospitals. I also look forward to hearing from you about how we can improve our communications. Through Your Opinion Matters survey, you can help us better understand how we are doing in communicating with you. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback with us by completing the survey.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Supporting Patients Through Medical Assistance in Dying

This month's blog has been prepared by Dr. Jan Goossens, Chief of Staff at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare.

Dr. Jan Goossens,
Chief of Staff
Medical assistance in dying is one of a number of choices that can be considered in end-of-life care at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare.

End-of-life care planning is very personal, and is designed to be respectful of your personal values and beliefs and to ensure that you and your family are treated with dignity.

Since medical assistance in dying became legal in June 2016, a great deal of work has occurred at MAHC to ensure that our patients have access to all aspects of end-of-life care, including medical assistance in dying, and that our staff and physicians have a framework that  guides them in this new practice. There are two ways in which this medical assistance in dying can ultimately occur:

  • A doctor will provide the patient with a prescription for a fatal dose of medication to end his/her own life, or
  • A doctor administers medications to the patient that ends the patient’s life. This is also known as voluntary euthanasia.

Requests for medical assistance in dying must come from a capable and competent adult who meets all of the eligibility criteria, without pressure from others. Substitute Decision Makers, Powers of Attorney and/or family members cannot make this decision and advance directives cannot be used to request medical assistance in dying. To qualify for medical assistance in dying, you are required to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Eligible for health services funded by a government of Canada
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Capable of making decisions about your health care
  • Suffer from a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability
  • Are in an advanced state of irreversible decline that is causing enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable
  • Natural death is reasonably foreseeable
  • Give informed consent in writing

It is important to consider details like where you wish to die, the way in which you wish to die, who you would like present at your death, whether you wish to have your pet(s) present, whether you wish to have music playing or someone reading to you, and how you would like your loved ones supported following your death.

At any point, if you change your mind you can withdraw your consent to proceed with medical assistance in dying.

MAHC is committed to ensuring patients will receive high-quality palliative and supportive care throughout the process of requesting medical assistance in dying or any approach to end-of-life care. Visit our website for more information.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Your Values as a Patient are Important to Us

A hospital stay is almost never planned. But when it happens, we want you to know you’re in good hands at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare. Your health care team is committed to putting patients and families first by ensuring quality care in a respectful and compassionate environment. It is important to us that your experience at MAHC is centered around you. We don’t want to simply meet your expectations, we want to exceed them.
Establishing expectations is the first step in working toward meeting and exceeding them. We are pleased to unveil our new Patient Declaration of Values. I truly believe it reflects what is most meaningful to our patients and families and the expectations that they and our communities at large have of their health care experience at MAHC.  It also will help identify the role you can play as a partner in your care. The Patient Declaration of Values demonstrates the rights you have as a patient that we will work to foster and protect by motivating us to achieve our vision of providing Outstanding Care that is Patient and Family Centered.
Through consultative focus groups, I personally received valuable input from patients and their family members about the values they expect our staff to demonstrate, and similarly the values or behaviours that our staff and physicians should expect of our patients. This feedback was essential to shaping our Patient Declaration of Values that is now widely displayed across our two sites.
Values under Quality of Care, Respect, Privacy & Confidentiality, Compassion and Partnership are defined in detail in our Patient Declaration of Values as well as the responsibilities of patients and their family members. I encourage you to review the document on our website and look forward to partnering with you as we all do our part to make your visit at MAHC the best it can possibly be.