Unprecedented, historic and challenging. These words are often used to describe 2020.
Also appropriate are resiliency, dedication and commitment. Together they describe our team’s remarkable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a year that tested our team like never before, it has been impressive to see how our staff, physicians and volunteers across Niagara have gone above and beyond, working with our partners and the community, to provide safe, high-quality care and support one another during the pandemic.
Their resiliency, dedication and commitment has shone bright in challenging circumstances.
The response to COVID-19 is a source of pride for Niagara Health, as are our other accomplishments over the last year.
Here are some of our proud moments from 2020:
Enhanced care for palliative patients: A new program was introduced to enhance care and access to services for palliative patients and their families. The Palliative Care Consultation Service provides a holistic approach to care improving the quality of life and emotional well-being for patients and families.
Promoting organ donation: Trillium Gift of Life Network presented our team with the Provincial Conversion Rate Award for our commitment to helping improve organ and tissue donation. The conversion rate calculates the number of potential organ donors who became actual organ donors. Over the past year, Niagara Health exceeded the target of a 63 per cent conversion rate set by TGLN, reaching 80 per cent.
Choosing Wisely: We received national recognition for achieving Level 1 Certification as a Choosing Wisely Canada hospital by demonstrating our commitment to reducing unnecessary medical tests, treatments and procedures across our sites.
Top Employer: We were selected a Top Employer in Hamilton-Niagara for the third straight year. The annual competition, organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, recognizes employers in the Hamilton-Niagara region that lead their industries in providing extraordinary workplaces.
Diversity a priority: As a strategic priority for Niagara Health, a renewed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan was developed by our team and approved by our Board of Directors. Early work included assembling a DEI committee and roadmap for 2021-2022. Plans are underway for cross-organization training, a full review of Niagara Health processes, policies and procedures, and a staff survey.
Niagara Health leadership: In February, we welcomed our new President Lynn Guerriero, an accomplished executive leader in the Ontario health system. Her appointment followed a national search that led to her unanimous selection due to her unique set of skills, passion and vision for high-quality healthcare in Niagara. In June, Bunny Alexander, who has a deep well of experience and expertise in healthcare, was appointed the new Chair of our Board of Directors. She replaced John Bragagnolo, whose strong leadership, vision and guidance has been key to our success over the past few years.
Academics: We celebrated 10 years of working with the Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. During that time, hundreds of our physicians have provided specialty training to more than 1,300 resident physicians. We work with over 100 academic partners, including Brock University, Niagara College and McMaster University, to provide a range of learning opportunities.
Leading the way in innovation: We made significant advances with technology. With COVID, our innovation in this area is accelerating and changing the way we provide care. Access to virtual care will be a significant focus moving forward, as will secure access to personal health information on mobile devices. Our mobile application, Niagara Health Navigator, is a go-to resource for many patients and visitors for Emergency Department wait-time information, COVID response updates and other important information.
Focus on research: We continued to see growth in medical research. Research and clinical trials are happening in a wide range of programs, and our teams are participating in research related to COVID-19.
National communications awards: We received four national communications awards from the Canadian Public Relations Society, including the top award in the country for Campaign of the Year. Our team was honoured for the nine-month communications campaign developed to support Niagara Health’s quality and safety journey related to Accreditation 2019, and for the communications strategy to support the Niagara Health Engagement Network.
Progress on our planning: Work on the planning and design of our future South Niagara Site has continued, thanks to the time, input and dedication of our staff, physicians, volunteers and community. Feedback from the provincial Ministry of Health and Infrastructure Ontario is positive and we are incorporating lessons learned from the pandemic into aspects of our planning.
Niagara Ontario Health Team: Niagara Health became one of 45 partners who comprise the Niagara Ontario Health Team - Équipe Santé Ontario Niagara (NOHT-ESON). Our collaborations with NOHT-ESON partners is integral to creating a stronger and more integrated healthcare system.
Community support: Our community’s generosity always shines bright with its support of Niagara Health Foundation campaigns and events throughout the year. The community has rallied around us during the pandemic to support our healthcare team, with financial contributions for urgently needed equipment and donations of personal protective equipment.
Acts of Kindness: A caring culture is a vital part of who we are. This year, our Workplace Acts of Kindness challenge surpassed a milestone of 40,000 acts of kindness, many of which were carried out during the pandemic, when they were needed the most.