We chose the theme I am Niagara Health to highlight how our people are committed to deliver on our promise to provide extraordinary caring to our patients and their loved ones.
This past year has presented many opportunities, and we are grateful to our staff, physicians and volunteers for their unwavering dedication to our deep-rooted purpose of caring.
Our report provides an update on the progress we are making implementing our strategic plan initiatives to improve quality and other important work that supports these initiatives.
You’ll also learn about our increasing focus on research and academics, which is transforming healthcare in Niagara, enhancing the patient experience and attracting and retaining the best and brightest to work at Niagara Health.
We’ve had much to celebrate over the past year and take great pride in the care provided by our teams, delivered with caring and compassion.
Providing personalized music playlists on iPods is proving to be beneficial to residents in the Extended Care Unit (ECU) at our Welland Site. Residents with cognitive impairments like dementia can sometimes experience agitation and depression. The ECU staff and Brock University students introduced the Music and Memory Program to enhance the quality of life for residents. The program has helped to improve the mood and behaviour of residents and has been effective in reducing incidence of falls by creating more relaxing environments. “It’s amazing when you see someone who really responds to the music and you see their face brighten and their eyes twinkle or a smile comes across their face,” says Lezlie Leduc, the ECU Program and Services Manager. Music and Memory is part of the Interprofessional Education for Quality Improvement Program (I-EQUIP), which pairs students from Brock and McMaster’s School of Medicine - Niagara Campus, with staff from Niagara Health to work together on health system improvement projects.
Photo: ECU Program and Services Manager Lezlie Leduc with resident Herb Thomas, who is part of the Music and Memory Program.
Patients in Intensive Care Units are our sickest patients and are often unable to express when they feel anxious or are in pain. In addition, our teams may have difficulty accurately determining when patients are experiencing confusion, clinically described as delirium. A leading researcher at Niagara Health, Dr. Jennifer Tsang, and Brock University Associate Professor Dr. Madelyn Law are working with our ICU team to identify better ways to predict and manage a patient’s care when they are experiencing one or more of these symptoms. The pain, agitation and delirium (PAD) research is important to enhance care for our patients by reducing the length of time they require this more intensive level of care while also preventing complications. "When we know that delirium is at the root of confusion and agitation, then we can target specific treatments more readily," Dr. Tsang says. Results from the first phase of the PAD study were presented at the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine conference in Vienna in 2017, and three manuscripts have been submitted for publications. Drs. Tsang and Law are now embarking on the second phase of the study, which broadens the research to involve patients’ family members and additional healthcare disciplines.
Photo: Dr. Jennifer Tsang is studying ways to better manage pain, agitation and delirium in Intensive Care Unit patients.
It’s an alarming statistic: Nearly half of patients admitted to Canadian hospitals are malnourished. To combat malnutrition, Niagara Health joined a University of Waterloo study to look at ways to treat and prevent malnutrition for at-risk patients. Malnourished patients, the majority of whom are seniors, experience longer hospital stays and are at higher risk for readmission within 30 days. Now, when admitted, the patients are asked if they are eating less than usual or have lost weight without trying. If they answer yes to the two screening questions, our dietitians will assess and work with them on a nutrition treatment plan. The second phase of the study launches this fall. There will be an increased focus on connecting patients with family health teams and other care providers in the community for continued nutrition care after they are discharged. Marilee Stickles-White, Niagara Health Manager, Clinical Nutrition Services, says the program is also expanding to more units. "If we identify malnourished patients early on in their hospitalization, we can intervene earlier with great success," she says. "We are making a difference."
Photo: Clinical Dietitian Andrea Digweed meets with patient June Annett at our Greater Niagara General Site to discuss dietary needs.