By Rebecca Repa, Vice President, Clinical Support Services and Community Surgery, and Executive Lead, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital
The past, the present and the future are all important and interconnected here at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH). Within a single day we’re simultaneously thinking about how best to meet current community needs while planning our vision for the future. And somewhere along the way we’re bound to be reminded of the incredible history of this little hospital in the Niagara North West community.
It’s the future that is getting most of the attention these days. Hamilton Health Sciences is part way through a planning exercise for the care we’ll provide and the facilities we’ll need for the next 20 years. As part of that plan, we propose redeveloping our Hamilton General and Juravinski campuses, and rebuilding WLMH with a focus on community medicine and day surgery.
Here at WLMH, our long-time integrated primary care model is one of our greatest assets, and foundational for the population of our community. It means that if you need to be in hospital, your family physician admits you and remains responsible for your care. It lessens the chance of gaps in service and awkward transitions as people move in and out of hospital care. This model is something from our past and our present that we very much intend to keep into the future.
The past, the present and the future are all important and interconnected here at WLMH, but it’s the future that is getting most of the attention these days.
Along with community medicine and day surgery, we propose having 24-hour emergency care, maternal and newborn care for low-risk births, and specialty outpatient clinics. We will continue to be strongly integrated with programs and services at the other hospitals of Hamilton Health Sciences, transferring patients from WLMH who need more specialized care than we can provide here.
The linchpin to our future planning for WLMH is a new facility, which our Niagara North West community has had its heart set on for years. In the recent provincial budget HHS received a commitment that its redevelopment projects are in the queue for capital funding. This doesn’t mean we have approval, but it’s definitely good news, and a very positive vote of confidence in the direction we’re heading. We are on track and on schedule with our planning process.
Even as we plan for the future we still need to pay attention to quality and safety measures for our patients and staff today. A good example is the new electronic health record system, which allows diagnostic and lab results to be more quickly and accurately communicated among the care team across any HHS site. This is a significant project for us and is being implemented over the next few months, beginning in the Emergency Department.
Improving patient safety: Electronic health record implemented at WLMH
Hamilton Health Sciences’ vision to achieve the best care for all requires us to plan for the continuous improvement of everything we do to meet the evolving needs of patients across all of our hospitals.
At West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, one of the most recent investments to improve the standard of care is the implementation of an electronic health record (e-record).
The hospital already uses electronic health information technology to communicate and report diagnostic tests and lab results. The expansion of the e-record will give staff, midwives and physicians access to more of the information they need to inform care decisions.
This is a significant advance in how we care for patients
It tells the patient story in real-time and patient information is immediately available in an easy-to-read and organized electronic chart. It also makes it possible to standardize documentation processes across all disciplines and clinical areas across HHS, and supports the sharing of information between units and health care providers when patients are being transferred or when a consult is required.
“This is a significant advance in how we care for patients,” says Cindy MacDonald, Director of Community Programs at WLMH. “It will improve access to vital information by members of the healthcare team so that informed decisions can be made about care delivery for each patient. The e-record will also make it possible for staff and physicians across HHS to collaborate in planning care regardless of a patient’s location.”
The implementation of the e-record started in April with patients admitted through the Emergency Department. Over the upcoming weeks, the e-record will be phased in across all programs at WLMH.