Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Message to our Communities About COVID-19

This has been a difficult, unprecedented and extraordinary time for everyone. I would like to express my confidence in all members of the Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) team and share my utmost gratitude to all of our staff and physicians for their dedication to hospital care for our communities. We assure our communities that both hospital sites have measures in place to protect the health of our patients, staff and physicians. While things may be done differently during this time, please know that our team remains dedicated to treating everyone with care and respect. Some of the steps we have taken to ensure everyone’s safety include:
  • Initiating an emergency response to a pandemic plan, which includes daily command team meetings to ensure we are up to date on public health recommendations and Ministry of Health directives.
  • Screening everyone who enters the hospitals for travel history and symptoms of illness. 
  • Limiting all visitors with the exception of visits for compassionate reasons, including palliative circumstances.
  • Postponing non-urgent, elective surgeries. Affected patients are being contacted directly and will be rebooked as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Reducing, suspending or relocating some hospital services in order to create capacity for an influx in the potential acute care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Contacting patients directly to cancel most non-urgent, scheduled outpatient procedures and clinic appointments. Appointments will be rebooked as soon as it is safe to do so. Urgent procedures and appointments will continue.
  • Enhancing infection prevention and control protocols and managing supply needs and monitoring supply levels to ensure preparedness while protecting everyone in our buildings.
  • Working collaboratively with our partners to open community assessment centres in Bracebridge and Huntsville.
  • Sharing information both internally and externally as the situation changes.
If you have a loved one being cared for in our hospitals, please rest assured they will continue to receive high-quality, safe and compassionate care by our providers who are working hard to make their experience is the best it can be during these challenging times.  
We would like to also send out words of thanks:
  • To our team members for their unwavering commitment to patient care and to keeping our facilities clean, maintained and safe.
  • To our patients and families for their patience and understanding while daily routines are interrupted and we strive to continue to deliver essential treatment and care.
  • To our Foundation teams, and their donors for continuing to believe in our hospitals and offering support and words of encouragement. Now is a great time for giving donations to the Huntsville Hospital Foundation and South Muskoka Hospital Foundation.
  • To individuals, businesses and groups that are showing their appreciation and support by reaching out to offer various ways to help. We are feeling the love and we are grateful for every heartwarming offer. We are working through a process to ensure that gifted supplies are appropriate for hospital use and the best way to receive these. Please do not bring items to the hospitals unannounced. For a variety of reasons, we cannot accept gifts of prepared food and encourage you to think of others in our community who need that support.
  • To our health care partners and municipal leaders for working together with us.
We implore everyone to continue social distancing, which is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Choose knowledge over fear. Please remember to be kind and support each other, especially our most vulnerable. 
MAHC continues to monitor new information on a daily basis  and is committed to informing the community of updates on our website at During these challenging times, we appreciate your continued support and understanding. 
Together, as a team and as a community, we can get through this. Stay safe and be well.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

More is Not Always Better – Empowering Providers and Patients to Choose Wisely

Did you know that Canadians have more than one million potentially unnecessary medical tests and treatments each year? In medicine, as it is in life, more is not always better. This is the premise of the “Choosing Wisely” campaign.
Choosing Wisely Canada is a grassroots physician-led campaign that has been championed by passionate health care providers from coast-to-coast with a goal to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, and make smart choices. Tests and treatments often come with risks and harm. The goal of choosing wisely is to reduce care that is unnecessary and by doing this we ensure we are not subjecting patients to risks or harm needlessly. As well, this allows us to allocate hospital resources where they are needed and best utilized, and this too, improves patient care.
When Choosing Wisely Canada invited hospitals across Canada to join the global movement by making changes, small or large, to reduce overuse, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) was keen to get involved.
In the fall, we created our Choosing Wisely Committee with physician and staff champions across both sites who began to look at options for how we at the hospitals can do our part to choose wisely and reduce unnecessary tests and treatments.
Through the leadership of the committee, MAHC has implemented five initiatives in support of reducing unnecessary tests and/or procedures, and in January achieved the Choosing Wisely Canada hospital Level 1 designation, joining the ranks of more than a dozen other hospitals across the country.
Staff display Choosing Wisely Canada Level 1 designation certificates.

Both sites received certificates acknowledging MAHC as a Level 1 Choosing Wisely Canada hospital.

These initiatives have brought about positive changes in processes such as a targeted re-evaluation of clinical order sets to ensure they are reflecting current best practices. One of the five initiatives, for example, is to require that all physician orders for daily blood work to have an end date. This helps to avoid unnecessarily repeating blood tests that may not change clinical care, but yet can cause things like hospital-acquired anemia.
There are interesting statistics that tell us that Canadians are mindful of unnecessary health care: 62% agree that there is a significant amount of unnecessary care in the health care system while 92% of Canadians believe patients need more support to know which services are really necessary for their health.
We want patients to also play a role in self-advocating and talking to their care providers about unnecessary care. It’s about education and conversations about when a particular test, treatment or procedure, may be needed and when it may not be.
I implore everyone to consider four questions that we all can be asking our care providers to ensure we are choosing wisely for our care:
1.    Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
2.    What are the downsides?
3.    Are there simpler, safer options?
4.    What happens if I do nothing?
We will be using posters in waiting areas and other means like our website and social media channels to spread the choosing wisely word.