Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre

A healthcare vision for Hamilton’s future

By: Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is on year three of a multi-year process to reimagine our hospitals for the next generation and beyond. We’ve looked at projected population changes and disease trends. We have forecasted the changing role technology will play in health care. Most importantly, we have listened to the voices of thousands of people across our community and our region.

Planning for the next 20 years is complex, to say the least. HHS is one of the largest hospital systems in the country. We currently operate on five sites and serve a catchment area of more than 2.3 million people. But with the best thinking of our staff and physicians, our community partners and the people we serve, we put together a vision for the future Hamilton Health Sciences. I am happy to say that we have now received an endorsement of that vision from the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN).

Here is our vision in a nutshell:

Create a healthier city and region by getting ahead of the demand for hospital care. We will work with community-based health partners to help people stay out of hospital. An early example of this work: we currently have an HHS outreach team that makes home visits to people who have been frequent users of the Emergency Department (ED). This award-winning program is proving very successful at addressing the root causes of people’s health challenges, with ED visits reduced by 46 per cent for program participants. In the future, we will expand this type of approach.

We have listened to the voices of thousands of people across our community and our region.

Work beyond our walls. Some kinds of health care absolutely need to occur in hospital, but other types do not. We are exploring how, when and where it makes sense to provide HHS care in community settings rather than making people come to the hospital. A current example is our LiveWell partnership with the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford. Together we are providing rehabilitation, injury prevention and disease management programs at local YMCA facilities. It is safe, highly effective and a better environment for our patients than the hospital. We will look to create more opportunities like this one.

Modernize our facilities for the next generation. Our oldest hospital facilities are not capable of meeting our region’s needs over the next 20 years and beyond. We need to modernize and grow our hospital space by 50 per cent to meet evolving standards of care, and population growth. We will cluster our acute care services around the Hamilton General Hospital on Barton Street, and the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre on Concession Street, expanding and modernizing these campuses.

We will relocate the programs offered at St. Peter’s Hospital to the Concession Street campus so we can serve more people. At the General Hospital campus we will build a new children’s and women’s hospital on Wellington Street, replacing the current facility at McMaster University Medical Centre. We will also modernize the General Hospital. In West Niagara, we will rebuild West Lincoln Memorial Hospital with a focus on short-stay and day services, providing a gateway to the specialty services located at other HHS hospitals.

Ultimately, our aim is to create a healthier community, where people can more easily access services in a variety of settings.

This new physical footprint will take approximately 20 years to achieve. We’re proposing that it unfold in two stages, with the first projects – the Juravinski and West Lincoln redevelopment – beginning in approximately five years if funding and approvals are received. We see the redevelopment at the General Hospital campus as Phase 2, with an estimated start time of approximately 10 years, again pending the necessary approvals and funding. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is now reviewing our facilities plan and will determine the sequencing.

This plan addresses the input we heard from our communities that the status quo in health care delivery is not an option. Our population is aging and with age comes a higher likelihood of chronic disease and disability. More than half of all our adult admissions at HHS last year were for people older than 65. Even cancer is now recognized as a disease associated with aging – the Canadian Cancer Society predicts a 40 per cent increase in new cases diagnosed over the next dozen years, largely because of the aging demographic. For these reasons, there is a real sense of urgency to modernize and expand the Juravinski Hospital, host of the Regional Cancer Program, and including the relocated St. Peter’s programs that primarily serve older adults.

Ultimately, our aim is to create a healthier community, where people can more easily access services in a variety of settings and can better manage their own health. We thank everyone who has helped us in our planning to date and we will keep the community updated as we progress.

For more information please visit our dedicated website: www.ourhealthyfuture.ca.

Mike McGillion, Nurse Scientist, Explorer

The technological revolution of healthcare

By: Dr. Michael McGillion
Nurse scientist, Population Health Research Institute
Associate professor, School of Nursing, McMaster University

Like most health care professionals, I became a nurse to make a difference. Then, I became a scientist to understand how best to make that difference.

We’re in an exciting time of emerging technologies in health care. We’re finding ways to improve the delivery of care so that patients can recover better and get back to their daily lives faster. This is unchartered territory, making it an exciting journey as a researcher.

Today, patients undergoing surgery are going home sooner, with a larger portion of recovery time at home. This, however, means that they’re not monitored as well as when in hospital, and patients can have complications, particularly in the first 30 days at home. At the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), we’re exploring how to bridge this gap between a patient and their hospital team using remote monitoring technology. The SMArTVIEW project is a unique collaboration that’s looking specifically at improving outcomes for patients who undergo cardiac and vascular surgery, where the risk of complication is relatively high. We’re leveraging the academic and clinical expertise of groups across McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences to develop a solution that we hope will make a difference for cardiac patients in Hamilton, Canada, and beyond.

Solutions like SMArTVIEW have the potential to revolutionize how we provide care, in and out of hospital.

We’ve never had access to this kind of technology before. Solutions like SMArTVIEW have the potential to revolutionize how we provide care, in and out of hospital. But the technology can’t stand on its own. The support and expertise of our clinical teams is crucial to success. In SMArTVIEW, for example, registered nurses actively review the monitored health data, and check-in with patients daily via video chat to ensure their recovery is going smoothly. The input and support from our nursing and clinical teams has been imperative. Without them, the technology would serve no purpose.

SMArTVIEW is just one example of how our focus on digital health allows us to go beyond the walls of the hospital and create new care pathways. It’s exciting to think about the global reach we can have with these technologies, and what they can help us achieve in supporting our patients through their recovery.

There remains a lot to discover in the growing field of digital health. Where are the best areas to implement hospital-to-home technologies? How can we use these technologies most effectively to manage early signs of complications after surgery? How do we overcome connectivity issues in such a vast country with remote areas? If we make great strides, how will these systems be distributed and managed? I find these questions compelling, and answering them requires far greater collaboration than ever before – not just among investigators, clinicians and research staff, but IT, biomedical technology, informatics and security as well.

The input and support from our nursing and clinical teams has been imperative.

Being part of this cross-cutting community of explorers has allowed me to become part of a growing network that’s inspired to leverage the opportunities that modern technology presents to improve health for people around the globe. It’s an exciting time to be a health researcher, as we help to lay the groundwork for the digital future of health care.

Michael McGillion, Nurse Scientist, Explorer

Click here for more stories on the explorations at Hamilton Health Sciences.

Regional Stroke Centre improves access to stroke care in Central South Ontario

By: Teresa Smith, Vice President, Adult Regional Care, Hamilton Health Sciences

Winnie Doyle, Executive Vice President, Clinical Services, Mental Health and Addictions and Chief Nursing Executive, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Specialization of stroke care at Hamilton General Hospital

Last year, over 1,000 people in our community experienced a stroke.

It can be terrifying. You may lose strength in one side of your body. You may have trouble speaking. Your face will often start to droop, among other signs of stroke. When a stroke happens, timely access to safe, quality best-practice care is critical to survival and recovery.  Everyone in our region deserves this access.

A greater chance of being alive and living at home in the year following a stroke

Across the city, we are fortunate that Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton are centres of excellence, which, until recently, have shared responsibility to provide care for patients experiencing stroke. As of this month, all stroke care is now provided at the Hamilton General Hospital – the Regional Stroke Centre.

The reason for this is simple: evidence shows that patients who are treated on a designated stroke unit achieve better outcomes. This means a greater chance of being alive and living at home in the year following a stroke.

The Hamilton General has a designated stroke unit staffed by a team of doctors and health care providers from a range of related specialties. These doctors, nurses and other care professionals primarily treat stroke patients and have expertise gained through specialization. The more patients they see, the more they understand about this disease.

The site is also home to our region’s rehabilitation centre, which helps patients recover during and beyond their stay in hospital.

The Hamilton General’s record speaks for itself. For example, in the most urgent stroke cases, it has the fastest time in Ontario for patients to receive clot-busting medication. Considering that up to 1.9 million brain cells die each minute a stroke is untreated, this is essential.

The Hamilton General is also the regional stroke endovascular therapy centre serving 2.2 million residents – one of only six Ontario hospitals to offer this treatment. This innovative and life-saving approach removes the blood clot from the brain, reducing the impact of the stroke.

This is not the first time our hospitals have come together to centralize the delivery of care to improve patient outcomes. Rather it’s the next phase in a long history of collaboration. Think of adult mental health and kidney care at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, or pediatric and cardiac treatment at Hamilton Health Sciences.

In modern health care, specialization is the best approach. We know that our integration of stroke care will help continue on this legacy of working together to improve our community’s health.

Katie Porter, Explorer, HHS Research Administration

Exploring a healthier community together

By: Katie Porter, Director of Research Administration, Hamilton Health Sciences

At Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), research isn’t something that happens on the outskirts of health care. Health care and research come together to provide the best care for our patients. Our researchers are our health care professionals – doctors, nurses, therapists, even students. The patients and families we serve aren’t just at the heart of the care we provide, they’re at the heart of our research explorations.

Our desire to discover runs deep. Many of us live in the communities we serve. We understand the unique health challenges we face and recognize that we all have a vested interested in discovering alternative treatments and therapies. The vision that together, we can create a healthier future for our families, friends and neighbours inspires us. We are finding ways to change health outcomes in our community from child and youth mental health to mobility in older adults. Here are two examples.

The vision that together, we can create a healthier future for our families, friends and neighbours inspires us.

For the first time our researchers are working with clinical staff and physicians, patients, families and care givers to explore ways to improve the delivery of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) services. We’re trying to gain a better understanding of what contributes to healthier outcomes for patients with ASD by utilizing the data already collected. Determining how best to navigate ASD services leads to improved care and ultimately provides these kids with more opportunities to become active members of our community in the future.

We’re also exploring ways to ensure our older patients stay healthier longer as our population ages. We’re bringing our best minds into their homes to make their lives better from day one. Our researchers are providing one-on-one support on medication management, nutritional coaching, and physical activity as well as moral support. Patients speak highly of the relationships they form with the research team, and the positive impact they’ve had on their daily lives. For one patient, the study helped him return to his love of skating.

Research is not about numbers, it’s about people.

Research is not about numbers, it’s about people. We’re looking for answers to the questions our patients and our communities are asking. Working with our patients to explore a healthier future for all of us is what makes it to rewarding.

Community support following fire is the greatest gift

By Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences

It was a quiet Sunday morning at Hamilton Health Sciences’ St. Peter’s Hospital in early November when the calm was suddenly broken by the shrill sound of fire alarms. Staff wondered for a minute if it was a drill or false alarm. Then they smelled smoke coming from the decommissioned south wing of the hospital and sprang into action.

As fire trucks came wailing up Maplewood Avenue, our St. Peter’s team was quickly assessing the options for response: Would they need to move out all patients? Was the fire contained or spreading? If evacuation was necessary, it would have to be done with the utmost care and gentle handling — many of our patients at St. Peter’s are frail, many are medically complex, and many are older adults. St. Peter’s is also the home of the country’s largest in-patient palliative care unit.

As first responders battled the blaze, patients were transferred to the east side of the building, as far removed as possible from the fire location. Staff, physicians and managers came rushing in to help from their day off as news about the fire quickly spread; family members helped, too. People in beds were moved to the auditorium, while those in wheelchairs were clustered in the lobby and adjoining hallways. Coffee and snacks were spontaneously and generously donated from the neighbourhood Tim Hortons and Little Caesars to keep everyone well fuelled.

The fire was contained to an area of the hospital used only for storage but neighbouring patient care units were closed due to smoke damage. While 138 patients were able to return to their rooms by evening, we had to move close to 100 others, accompanied by staff.

An evacuation of this scope would be challenging at the best of times

Like any hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences trains and prepares diligently for emergencies of all types. Our training was tested that day. And the real-life experience brought home to us how a crisis at one hospital affects and involves our health care partners across the region.

An evacuation of this scope would be challenging at the best of times, and this isn’t the best of times, with most Ontario hospitals running at more than 100 per cent occupancy. Yet somehow, incredibly, without a second of hesitation, our partners made room when our patients needed safe harbour.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton welcomed 13 patients. Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington generously took 20. Fifty-four patients were transferred to other Hamilton Health Sciences sites. Six were taken in by regional hospices — Dr. Bob Kemp and Emmanuel hospices in Hamilton, McNally House in Grimsby, Carpenter Hospice in Burlington and Stedman Hospice in Brantford. Another three patients moved to long-term care homes for which they were already on the waiting list. These transfers took place smoothly and competently with the help of Hamilton EMS, DARTS and Toronto EMS, while HSR buses were at the ready in the event of a larger evacuation. The Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network was involved and supportive throughout.

In the weeks that followed there was no shortage of challenges for our St. Peter’s team, who had to work around the inconveniences of having no on-site food services, laundry, pharmacy or shipping/receiving. Across Hamilton Health Sciences, our people went the extra mile and then some to keep delivering the best care to the remaining patients at St. Peter’s and those being cared for at alternate locations. Our patients and their families were understanding and supportive despite all the upheaval.

By late November, as services were reinstated, we were able to begin bringing patients back from their temporary locations. Fittingly, everyone who needed to return to St. Peter’s for their care and treatment had done so by the time we lit the holiday lights in the courtyard of the hospital, one month after the fire.

The joy of the Festival of Lights at St. Peter’s was magnified this year by our feelings of gratitude. The fire didn’t spread to patient care areas. Everyone was safe. And this experience, which no one would wish for, nevertheless showed us how deeply we can rely on not only our own Hamilton Health Sciences team, but our friends in the extended health system.

Literally hundreds of people across our city and region helped us manage this crisis, both on the day of the fire and in the weeks that followed. In a season of giving, this support was the greatest gift we could ask for. On behalf of St. Peter’s patients and their families, as well as our staff, physicians and volunteers across Hamilton Health Sciences, thank you for reminding us of the generosity and compassion that abounds in our region, and for helping us to be “home for the holidays.”

Input vital to shaping MAiD

By Dr. Andrea Frolic, director, Clinical & Organizational Ethics

The decriminalization of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) represents a pivotal change in end of life care in Canada. It has begun to change how we talk with patients about their options, about their suffering, about their living and dying. Patients who meet the legal criteria can now decide when, where and how they will die. MAiD has challenged us all to reflect on big questions, such as: What are my beliefs about “a good death”? How comfortable am I with assisted dying? How do I understand “intolerable and irremediable suffering”? What will I do if a patient or family asks me about MAiD?

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) prepared for MAiD back in 2015 by conducting surveys and focus groups with almost 400 staff members and physicians. We discovered a healthy diversity of opinions about this option amongst health professionals, and a clear message about how we ought to incorporate MaiD into how we care for patients at end of life. Specifically, you told us HHS needed to create a values-based approach that simultaneously honours the moral diversity within our workforce, and respects patients’ right to request MAiD. You told us we needed to establish a specialized consultation service to provide this care in collaboration with patients’ clinical teams.

Based on your feedback, we developed an interprofessional team called the Assisted Dying Resource and Assessment Service (ADRAS), including a wide range of medical specialties and health professions. ADRAS supports eligible patients to have an assisted death at home or in hospital, and builds capacity by coaching, mentoring and educating HHS staff and physicians about MAiD. Through its unique model of care, ADRAS endeavours to provide high quality whole person care that supports the physical, emotional, psychological and social well-being of everyone involved with MAiD, including patients, families, staff, physicians and learners.

one per cent of all Canadian deaths are MAiD deaths

Since federal legislation governing MAiD was passed in June 2016, over 60 HHS patients have made formal requests for this service. HHS staff and physicians have demonstrated enormous care and compassion for patients seeking MAiD during the early days of this new practice. Staff and physicians have taken time to listen to patient stories, explain options and explore choices. And we have supported one another by collaborating in care planning, innovating new practices, and reflecting together on the impact of MAiD on us as persons, professionals and care teams.

We have sought feedback from patients and families who have received MAiD care at HHS. Patients express gratitude to staff and physicians for listening to their suffering, discussing their values and beliefs, and honoring their choice to pursue MAiD. Families are also thankful for emotional support provided before, during and after the patient’s death.

Today one per cent of all Canadian deaths are MAiD deaths, and this trend is expected to grow in the years to come. In order to prepare for increasing volumes of MAiD requests, we want to understand how MAiD has affected front-line care, and what still needs to be done to deliver values-based, whole person, high quality care. HHS is conducting a new survey of staff and physicians to help us to understand:

• what has changed for staff and physicians, specifically around concerns and worries about MAiD
• what is going well in terms of MAiD practice at HHS
• what challenges and gaps remain
• what additional supports do staff and physicians require to respond to requests for MAiD

The results of this survey will be combined with feedback from patients and families, and focus groups with staff and physicians. This combined feedback will inform planning, and development of resources to support everyone affected by MAiD in navigating these challenging end of life scenarios.

Dr. Nikhil Pai, pediatric gastroenterologist, researcher, explorer

BLOG: Creating an alternative treatment option

By: Dr. Nikhil Pai
Pediatric gastroenterologist, McMaster Children’s Hospital
Assistant professor, department of pediatrics, McMaster University 

Coughs and colds, stomach aches, and fevers are part of every child’s life. But being diagnosed with a chronic disease is a reality for some children and their families, and presents a scary, and very uncertain new way of life. As a doctor and researcher, I’ve focused my career on exploring how to make life easier for some of these kids who struggle with lifelong diseases.

I take care of a lot of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the intestinal tract. When parents are told their child has this diagnosis, they react with shock, disappointment, and feeling totally overwhelmed. We’ve come a long way over the past few decades at being able to get IBD under control, but keeping it that way involves life-long medications. For many parents, that realization is almost more overwhelming than the diagnosis itself. Daily medications that have tough side effects are not what parents look forward to for their kids. Families ask about other options. Up until recently, “other options” have always involved different kinds of medications – a repetitive path that can be discouraging.

The trial was ambitious, and it worked.

When I was doing my pediatric gastroenterology training, I began research on the role of bacteria in the intestinal tract and how this can affect our overall health. Studies showed that kids with IBD had different types of bacteria than kids who were healthy, and my research gradually focused upon whether diseases could be treated by changing that bacteria itself. When I came to Hamilton Health Sciences in 2014, several colleagues in McMaster’s Department of Adult Gastroenterology had launched a groundbreaking study on the role of transplanting healthy, intestinal bacteria into adults with inflammatory bowel disease. The trial was ambitious, and it worked. Many of these patients got significantly better after this intervention. This type of treatment had never been explored through a carefully designed, formal research study in kids. With parents continuing to ask about other options, we decided to launch a trial that could give these families another option.

In 2015, with the assistance of extremely supportive senior mentors from Hamilton Health Sciences and our research coordinator, Jelena Popov, Hamilton Health Sciences’ Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology became the very first center in the world to offer families participation in a randomized controlled trial of fecal transplant for pediatrics. After extensive planning and approvals – as is required for all clinical research to ensure safety and ethical care – we successfully enrolled our very first participant in the winter of 2015. This patient was a young child with IBD who had already failed numerous high dose medications, was considering potential surgery if her condition worsened, and whose family was given one more option: even stronger medications. Our trial offered her something else, instead.

 Research trials like PediFETCh don’t offer families a guarantee, but they do offer options.

Since then, we’ve enrolled numerous other patients, have gained two partner sites in London Health Sciences Center and Montreal Children’s Hospital, and are expanding our trial to include another set of chronic inflammatory bowel disease patients later this year.

Our trial is ongoing – we aren’t even close to analyzing results yet – and a few other centers across the U.S. and Europe have started running their own studies for kids. Research trials like PediFETCh don’t offer families a guarantee. But, experimental therapies like fecal microbial transplant do offer families options. When a child gets a diagnosis like IBD, overnight a parent can go from being responsible for every part of their kid’s life to feeling like a bystander. Hospital admissions, invasive tests, confusing terminology, and medications delivered in unmarked IV bags and plastic cups take a toll. Having choices puts families back in charge.

We hope our research will show that fecal transplant is a choice that works. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we’re determined to try and find better ways to help kids and their families living with IBD get the very most out of life.

Dr. Richard Whitlock, cardiac surgeon, researcher, explorer

BLOG: The stubborn pursuit of “Why”

By: Dr. Richard Whitlock
Cardiac surgeon, Hamilton Health Sciences
Principal investigator, Population Health Research Institute
Associate professor of surgery, McMaster University

I entered medicine with the aspiration of impacting people’s lives; I think most physicians do. The opportunities to comfort, to cure, to make lives better; these were motivation to endure the long process of becoming a physician and, eventually, a heart surgeon.

Like any other physician, I’ve experienced the losses of dear patients. Sometimes, I’ve felt that I failed them. But overall, my first decade of independent practice has been extremely satisfying. There is little better than receiving a grateful hug from a family member after you operated on their loved one.

It wasn’t until I began my residency training that I realized the added satisfaction that clinical research could bring to the work I was already doing as a physician. It posed challenges that were very different from those of clinical practice, but with the same purpose of clinical care: to improve people’s lives.

Once that research bug has bitten, the realization soon comes that, instead of helping one patient at a time, a clinical researcher has the opportunity to impact tens of thousands of lives.

Clinical work is something that chases a physician; the moment you walk through the hospital doors, it’s almost impossible to escape the hustle of the health system. Research, on the other hand, requires you to chase it. It starts with asking an unanswered question, but will easily end if it’s not approached with a stubborn unwillingness to let it go. Finding good, reliable answers to big research questions is an elusive pursuit. Many things are required to enable research to happen – it’s a bit like assembling a puzzle, and it requires the support and expertise of many people and resources. But once that research bug has bitten, the realization soon comes that, instead of helping one patient at a time, a clinical researcher has the opportunity to impact tens of thousands of lives. When I experienced that epiphany, I began exploring even more. I became more aware of the gaps in knowledge in cardiovascular care. Identifying gaps is the first step in improving care for patients, and I began to notice the impact of these gaps on the patients I was treating. My questions continued to grow, as did the size of studies I was undertaking to answer them.

Naturally, my network of fellow research colleagues also grew: collaboration is key to research. I have had the pleasure of working with many talented researchers from over 30 countries, many of whom I now call friends. This large network that has formed as the result of questions that my colleagues and I have posed is unique in surgical research. It’s something that my research team should be truly proud of. In this network, we’re now answering questions that will have dramatic impact on tens of thousands of patients globally, in my lifetime. Together, we’re addressing the gaps in knowledge that affect the patients we care for every day. We’re actively working on finding ways to prevent strokes, to minimize common complications after heart surgery, and to ensure that available medications are used in optimal ways.

The child in me still exists, constantly asking “why”

This is why I love research. The child in me still exists, constantly asking “why”.

With the motivation and momentum of our vast research community at Hamilton Health Sciences and beyond, I have the satisfaction of helping to find answers to these questions every day. Answers that change one life at a time with the use of a scalpel and a surgeon’s hands and, at the same time, hundreds of thousands of lives that our hands will never actually touch.

Acting VP Research, Ted Scott

BLOG: Redefining research

By: Ted Scott, Acting Vice President Research & Chief Innovation Officer

The dictionary definition of “researcher” is painfully self-explanatory: “someone who conducts research.” Based on my experience at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) over the last few years, this description does no justice.

The word “research” itself has attracted a certain connotation that invokes images of anonymous individuals in lab coats analyzing samples in whitewashed, sterile rooms in the pursuit of some far-off, seemingly impossible discovery. Sure, some discovery happens that way. But, so often, it’s so much more than that.

At HHS, our researchers are so much more than people in lab coats. They are innovative, strategic, highly creative minds who translate complex data into new knowledge. Many of our researchers are also healthcare providers. Every day, they work alongside the patients who are the inspiration for their research pursuits. Their “labs” are patients’ rooms, clinics, and operating theatres. Every day, they’re on the front lines of our healthcare system, asking questions and solving problems. Their roles span the entire spectrum of healthcare professions: they’re surgeons, pediatricians, physiotherapists, nurses, students. They’re also our neighbours, friends, family members and, sometimes, they’re patients, too.

In my short time at HHS, I’ve learned that our researchers are also some of our community’s top innovators and collaborators. They’re forming networks across our city and region that are aimed at improving the way we provide healthcare, applying technology and expertise to make our healthcare system better. And, most importantly, their work has immense, tangible impact. Beyond the lab and the computer database, our nearly 2,000 researchers and research staff are discovering and implementing new knowledge that’s changing the way we care for people, in real-time.

For example, they’re testing in-home technology that our nurses and doctors can use to monitor patients once they go home after heart surgery. They’re working with tech innovators to find better ways of predicting outcomes for cancer therapies, so patients can make better decisions around their treatment options. They’re trialling the latest therapies to help make life easier for kids with chronic diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

This is just a sampling of the research happening at our hospitals, right now. It wouldn’t be possible without our researchers and research staff who are unwavering in their pursuit of making life better for people in our community, across our country, and around the world.

It’s this insatiable drive to know the unknown that I believe better defines a researcher.

I admire their persistence, their patience, and their will to keep exploring, even when the answers aren’t clear. And especially when competing commitments – of being doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, students – are as demanding as they are in our very busy health system.

It’s this insatiable drive to know the unknown that I believe better defines a researcher, no matter how big or small the issue at hand.
At HHS, we’re redefining what “research” means to our community, and to the world.

We’re not just researchers. We are explorers. It’s in our DNA.

Read our stories here.

Health care in the digital age

By Mark Farrow, chief information officer & VP of Health Information Technology Services

Photo of Mark FarrowIt is hard to remember a time when we didn’t have smart phones, apps for almost everything, and a constant connection to the internet to answer our questions and curiosities. Advancements in information technology relentlessly impact how we conduct our personal and professional lives. And this shapes our expectations about how we plan our affairs, interact with family and also, how we do our jobs.

The overlapping impact of information technology in health care is a very big deal. It’s never been easier to track and record information about our personal health – on a computer, a smart phone, or even your wrist-watch. So it’s not surprising that Hamilton Health Sciences’ patients, families and partners expect to easily share that information with and among the medical professionals at our hospital.

We are working hard to meet this expectation – and we are making progress. We have developed a Digital Health Plan (DHP) that identifies the technological solutions required at HHS to continuously improve the way our patients and clinicians share information with one another.

Our goal is to equip HHS health care providers quickly with your health information, so they can effectively interact with you, the patient, and your family, in a way that supports your recovery and well-being.  We are working on new tools, including a Patient Portal, to enhance your ability to communicate with your healthcare team and to stay informed about your health.

HHS is planning the largest, most comprehensive redevelopment in our organization’s history

We are also implementing technological safeguards to support your well-being and safety by providing electronic tools, such as the Bedside Medication Verification system, to ensure you are getting the right medication care during your hospital stay.

Over the next 20 years, HHS is planning the largest, most comprehensive redevelopment in our organization’s history. This initiative is called Our Healthy Future and you can learn more here. This transformation requires HHS to use digital technology in new ways to connect and collaborate more efficiently with our patients and partners, both within and beyond our hospital walls.

The HHS Digital Health Plan outlines the big steps we need to take – now, next year and over the next five years to make it all possible. It’s a flexible plan that we can add-to and adapt as we make progress, because technology never stands still and neither do we.


Hospitals and health care for the next generation

By Rob MacIsaac, President & CEO

With all the celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary underway, it’s interesting to note that one of the hospitals in our Hamilton Health Sciences family is older than the country itself – the Hamilton General Hospital opened as City Hospital in 1853.

The General isn’t the only hospital in our family with deep community roots. St. Peter’s Hospital got its start in the late 1800s, and the Juravinski Hospital, formerly known as the Henderson, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  Our West Lincoln Memorial Hospital opened back in the 1940s, and even the “baby” of the bunch, McMaster University Medical Centre, is nearing 50 years old.

While each of our facilities has served its purpose well, the passage of time brings changes. That’s  especially so in health care, where the way we deliver care has evolved significantly, making many of our old facilities less than ideal for delivering top quality care.

So, when we started to think about the care our community will need in the next 20 years, in the Our Healthy Future planning project, we knew that redeveloping our facilities would have to be a big part of it.

Hamilton Health Sciences is both a community hospital and a regional referral centre serving people across south-central Ontario – and in some cases, the entire province. That’s a lot of people depending on us, and the numbers are only going to grow as our population increases and demographics change.

We’ve crafted a vision of the facilities we think we’ll need, and not surprisingly the footprint looks different than what we have today.  For starters, we want to complete the redevelopment that has taken place at the Juravinski and demolish the old wings that date back to the 1930s. This would include creating  custom-built space at Juravinski for the programs currently located at St. Peter’s. Increasingly, those patients need to be close to the kinds of medical services we provide at Juravinski. We also envision redeveloping the Hamilton General Hospital and expanding the campus with a new children’s and women’s hospital. And we want to rebuild West Lincoln Memorial Hospital from the ground up.

We’ve crafted a vision of the facilities we think we’ll need…the footprint looks different than what we have today.

These changes would mean that we would operate two large hospital campuses in Hamilton and a community hospital in Grimsby.

These are big and ambitious ideas that echo the exciting renaissance going on in Hamilton today. If we can see this vision to reality, we will have hospitals for the next generation – space that meets modern standards for accessibility, privacy and infection control. These changes will provide the necessary setting for the delivery of excellent care, for teaching the next generation of health professionals, and for world-leading discoveries through research.

There is still a lot of planning, discussion and approvals ahead. Our vision was developed with extensive community consultation, and the conversations continue.

For more information on the Our Healthy Future planning project visit, www.ourhealthyfuture.ca

BLOG: Preparing teens for a smooth transition

by Drs. Jan Willem Gorter and Christina Grant

At McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) we all work together to make sure that children and teenagers get better. We like to see them grow, grow up and become adults.

But growing up is harder for some than it is for others. For teens with chronic conditions, it means they will leave the Children’s Hospital when they reach adulthood. That milestone comes with a challenging transition to new adult health care providers.

This is an unavoidable period for patients and their families. From research, and our own learnings at MCH, we know that this time of transition often includes additional costs, and can negatively affect a teen’s health and wellbeing.

Transitioning to adult care should be a time of celebration for teens

When equipped with proper knowledge and the right skills to take charge of their health, young people stand more firmly later in life. They have a better grip on their health and wellbeing, they are better prepared for health risks, and can better withstand hard times. We prepare our children for the transition from elementary to high school and from high school to college or university. It sets them up for success. A transition between health care providers should be no different. The smoother the transition, the greater the potential for success on the other side.

Parents of teens with chronic conditions tell us that they need more support around these transitions. Many providers at MCH have also asked for better tools and appropriate resources to foster smooth transitions for patients and their families.

With this in mind, we at MCH are working towards better supporting teens through their transitions into adult care. We recently developed a program called MyTransition that empowers youth to engage in their own care, and helps them navigate the system. After a successful pilot phase, we’re looking forward to rolling out an app that will suit this unique population, and the people who help care for them.

Transitioning to adult care should be a time of celebration for teens. It means they have reached an important milestone in their lives. It’s our job to make it as seamless as possible.