Niagara Health Extraordinary Professionals Recognized at 11th Annual Awards

Collaboration and communication are keys to providing extraordinary patient experiences at Niagara Health, and a few professionals who exemplify this were honoured Thursday at the 11th Annual Interprofessional Practice Awards banquet in Thorold.

This year’s recipients were chosen for demonstrating leadership and excellence in line with Niagara Health’s strategic purpose, vision and values, providing extraordinary caring, teamwork, forward thinking, and innovation.

This year’s award recipients included professionals from all disciplines, from different Niagara Health sites. Through their work, these extraordinary team members have demonstrated just how crucial collaborative healthcare is to providing excellent patient experiences and quality care.

“I’m honoured to work with these extraordinary professionals who consistently demonstrate how collaboration can improve patient care across the organization,” said Derek McNally, Executive Vice-President, Clinical Services & Chief Nursing Executive. “Thank you to all of the winners and nominees who go above and beyond every day to ensure we are providing the best possible care to every patient, every time.”

So what is Interprofessional Practice? It is the combining of professionals from across disciplines into one healthcare team to optimize patient care. This model enables our teams to share information, knowledge and best practices to improve patient outcomes.

“Every single one of our nominees is an extraordinary professional who deserves to be recognized which made picking the winners extremely difficult for the committee,” said Zeau Ismail, Niagara Health Director of Interprofessional Practice, Ethics & Research. “We are grateful for their dedication and hard work and are proud of the difference they are making to improve care and experiences for our patients.”

Mr. Ismail said they are also grateful to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union for their generous contributions and sponsorship to make Thursday’s banquet a success

Interprofessional Practice Award recipients 2017

Extraordinary Care

  1. Excellence in Clinical Expertise (Individual Practice Award)

Joanna Owens, Pharmacist, St. Catharines Site

Joanna excels in her role as a patient advocate, educator and team player. Day in and day out she speaks to patients with such kindness and consideration to ensure they are taking their medications correctly. She goes above and beyond the call of duty and does not hesitate to change her shift, stay late or miss her meal or break for the patient’s sake. Joanna ensures she has reviewed the discharge orders and intervenes quickly when needed or follows up with the patients making their discharge from hospital a success with regards to their medications. Joanna is able to communicate effectively and is often heard speaking to other pharmacies or physicians advocating to ensure everything is correct with the patient’s medication. Joanna continues to advance her own knowledge and is currently back in school working toward obtaining her pharm D designation. 

Susan O’Farrell, Respiratory Therapist, St. Catharines Site

Susan's expertise and dedication as a front-line Respiratory Therapist has become essential to not only the babies taking their first breaths, infants struggling to breathe and staff demanding her knowledge to make things better for all. She has gone above and beyond to arrange arrest carts, airway carts, equipment for oxygen delivery, safe systems to monitor and ensure all tools are readily available in an emergency. She also provided education and a process to follow for staff to be successful. Susan takes the opportunity of offering her abilities and her knowledge to educate on asthma related illnesses, ensuring all pediatrics needing any respiratory intervention gets followed and assessed for optimal therapy, educating nurses, students and Medical Learners in any way she can.

Extraordinary Care

  1. Excellence in Professional Competence & Development (Education Award)

Julie Tran, Clinical Pharmacist, St. Catharines Site

Julie is a valuable member of the Children’s Health team.  She is highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable.  She is a team player who has provided enormous support and guidance to all staff including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioner, respiratory therapists along with our patients and their families.    Julie is a member of several working groups within the Children’s Health Program bringing her skills and expertise to table.  She was instrumental in developing drug monographs for our new syringe pumps in the Special Care Nursery working closely with our Chief of Pediatrics (along with examining policies and practices from tertiary care centers).  She collaborates with the team on all pediatric and newborn order sets to ensure they are evidence-based and current.   She is deeply committed to her professional growth and even after her graduation as a pharmacist in 2012; she went back to school and attained her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) in 2016 to advance her pharmaceutical knowledge.

Extraordinary Teams

  1. Excellence in Interprofessional Practice Collaboration (Team Award)

Anterior Hip Early Ambulation and Discharge (AHEAD) Project Team –

Lauren Habel, Physiotherapist, Welland Site

Michelle Lowry, Occupational Therapist, Welland Site

Ann VanVliet, Discharge Planner (Registered Nurse), Welland Site

Together the team has pioneered minimally invasive hip surgery at the Welland site.  Occupational Therapist meets the patient prior to surgery; Surgery is performed on an innovative table using minimally invasive technique under fine-tuned anesthesia which allows the patient to mobilize five hours after surgery with the assistance of specially trained Physiotherapist.  Most patients are home in 24 hours, some have even gone home the day of surgery with the support of the Discharge Planner.

The team demonstrated knowledge of the special needs of the patient undergoing minimally invasive hip surgery and respectfully work together to evaluate and revaluate the care through ongoing nursing, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist feedback along with patient follow up phone calls. The team continue to meet to promote the learning they have gained. The team is sharing their learning by applying for the international 3M awards for Innovation and Teamwork spring of 2017.  Also the team has collaborated to build a poster of the AHEAD program for the OHA Health Achieve Poster being presented November 2017.

Extraordinary Teams

  1. Excellence in Patient and Family as Partners 

Maria Ramos, Speech Language Pathologist, Greater Niagara General Site

Maria is the perfect example of a colleague who shows constant consideration, genuine interest and compassion to every little one (pre-school aged children) and their family who walk through her door. She exudes warmth, sensitivity and hope to any and all, regardless of their challenges, concerns, and dire situations they may have found themselves in. There are times when she is dealing with fragile family situations, which require heightened tactfulness and a kind approach to engage them in the therapy process. She also embraces participation with Niagara Health as a whole, taking an active role in its leadership program last year, participating in the Hospice Niagara project, as well as promoting early literacy workshops to community partners and family physicians across the region. She frequently brings in stuffed toys, games and books from her home and hands them out to her little clients who have fewer resources in their homes.

Donna Mantesso, Discharge Planner, Welland Site

It is Donna's tenacity, determination, caring and efficiency that allows patients to be discharged in the best and safest manner possible. Donna tirelessly worked to put a plan in place for a patient to return to his group home. She independently took the PIECES course (through the Local Health Integration Network - Behaviour Services Ontario) to learn current strategies that might help in dealings with this patient population. She then coached the staff regarding these strategies as well as the staff from the group home, and encouraged them to bring in pictures that would remind patients of their home and encouraged them also to bring in favorite foods as well as suggested Leave of Absences to try to adapt the patient back to the group home environment. The director of the group home wrote a lovely letter praising Donna for her patience, her compassion, and her continued advocacy for the patient, genuinely thanking her for all the work she had done and telling us how well the patient had readjusted being back into the group home.

Extraordinary Future

  1. Excellence in Leadership by providing Student Preceptorship 

Angela Dueck, Physiotherapist, St. Catharines Site

Angie serves as a role model to both her colleagues and her students. She offers multiple opportunities every year for physio students to practice within an ICU setting. She will often take physio students from other floors for an afternoon to provide them with exposure to this unique practice setting and some of the skills utilized there such as suctioning, ambulating patients on a ventilator. She also volunteers within the physiotherapy program at McMaster sharing her expertise within the cardiorespiratory field with students. She has previously provided an education session on her own time for her colleagues on oxygen titration and suctioning to allow them to maintain our college standards for completing these delegated acts.

Joe Perri, Charge Medical Laboratory Technologist, St. Catharines Site

Joe is a prolific supporter of students, each year without fail.  He is always willing to support the learning of students from both the MLA and MLT programs (and beyond).  Joe has certainly shown his passion for promoting laboratory services and pairing that with supporting the students learning in addition to supporting multiple students in placement each year.  Joe has provided opportunity for students and community members to learn about the lab through the Job Shadow Program.  Joe is always willing to support students in all aspects of the student program.  He participates in in the Role Presentation/Tours for students on the Interprofessional Practice Education (IPE) units 3A and 4A, and in fact participates every term.  Joe has also provided tours of the lab to other student groups (ie. nursing) to help them to learn about the lab and what they do.

Extraordinary Future

  1. Excellence in providing safe, quality patient care by a Rising Star 

Jacob Cashin, Clinical Pharmacist, Welland Site

Jacob spearheaded a pharmacy newsletter with a nursing focus for staff on the 4th floor surgical units of the Welland Hospital. He spends the majority of the day on the unit (4th floor) in order to offer a consistent pharmacy presence and increase communication and interprofessional collaboration with nurses and other allied health professionals.  He consistently attends / actively participates in daily bullet rounds. Jacob has provided education in the form of weekly in-services/lectures (on pharmacology; antibiotics) to Brock nursing (RN) students at their weekly “post-conferences”, on a volunteer basis (to help them prepare for their pharmacology exam and help ensure they have an engaging, meaningful experience for their placement). Jacob has accomplished all of this since starting at Niagara Health full-time in August 2016. He is the epitome of the category "Rising Star".

Extraordinary Innovation

  1. Excellence in Ethics and/or Research 

GNG Unit C & D Site Implementation Team, More-2-Eat Research Project

Comprised of Kellie Buttner, Karen Cramer, Andrea Digweed, Lori Edwards, Leah Fenwick, Karen James, Natalie Kopinak, Jennifer Law, Valerie Lucey, Ruth Mazzone, Andrea McCollum, Jeanne Minor, Susan Pasma, Marilee Stickles-White, Craig Sutton, Lina Vescio, and Sally Whitsitt.

The Site Implementation Team members brought their knowledge, skills and tools to the table to work on solutions to improve nutrition care and the patient experience. Through the teams' efforts many improvements were made.  Nutrition screening for malnutrition on admission was implemented and at risk patients are now referred to a dietitian without delay for assessment and treatment.  Simply putting this tool in place has raised awareness - nurses are more keen to identify patients at risk for malnutrition and make it a priority.  There has been a renewed focus on meal times.  A unique volunteer meal time assistance program was developed and implemented and is thriving today.  Patient reported meal time barriers to eating well in hospital reduced significantly.  Tools for successful discharge were developed/revised and important connections were made with community nutrition partners for follow up beyond the hospital walls.  Improvements made on Units C and D at GNG is now starting to be rolled out to other NH units and sites. The team also contributed to an on line Malnutrition Toolkit (strategies, tools, education materials, video clips) designed to assist other Canadian hospitals with implementing solutions to tackle malnutrition across the continuum.  This is housed on the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force website. There also have been numerous Research Articles published to date through the More-2-Eat Study.

Extraordinary Innovation

  1. Excellence in Evidence Informed Decision Making (Innovation Award) 

Jillian Tweedy, Senior Occupational Therapist, St. Catharines Site

Jillian deserves this award for her contributions toward the care of the bariatric patient. Her efforts all began with a call from the Emergency Department over a year ago to help transfer a bariatric patient from a bed to a stretcher for a diagnostic procedure. Many things did not go smoothly that day but as a result of that experience, the process for obtaining the appropriate bariatric equipment has been standardized at the St. Catharines site through the work of a bariatric committee and Jillian’s leadership. Because of her advocacy several new pieces of bariatric equipment exist within the system to help support this patient population. She also worked with ICT to add the equipment on order entry to have front-line staff easily access the equipment needed as well as having the equipment tagged so it is easy to locate the equipment. She has advocated for an ongoing committee for this specialized group of patients to monitor the status of the current processes and to problem solve through various areas for improvement within the system. It is so important that this group of patients have the appropriate equipment to minimize the risk of injury to both staff and patients.