The Importance of Gratitude: It’s Worth Saying out Loud

The Importance of Gratitude: It’s Worth Saying out Loud


By: Carmine Stumpo, Vice President, Programs

If you turn on the television or follow Twitter, it’s hard not to feel  depressed. The last few weeks have been filled with extreme weather events leaving people without the bare necessities of life, and senseless violence that is beyond reason or explanation.

So, how does one remain positive? It is a choice to be grateful for things we have.

You may or may not agree with the politics of our local, provincial and federal governments, however… 

I am grateful I live in a great city within the best country in the world. This year we celebrated Canada 150. We should never take for granted what it means to be Canadian, eh?

Closer to home, we know people are working harder than ever to get by. At MGH, many are putting in long hours as we continuously try to do more with less, however…

I am grateful for the work I do. I consider it a privilege to be a part of a team with so many amazing people doing such important work within East Toronto – creating health and building community. This is hard but meaningful work that makes a difference in so many lives.

We know people are struggling with health issues with either themselves or their families and friends, however…

I am grateful I am part of an extended community that looks out for each other and is committed to physical, mental and spiritual well-being, both within and outside the organization. I have seen individuals, departments and the organization pitch to help in times of need.

I was recently reminded of the importance of gratitude, by declaring to a group what I was grateful for. And sometimes it is the little things that surprisingly make the world of difference. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I encourage everyone to take the time to tell someone what they are grateful for. It is worth saying out loud.

Happy Thanksgiving,



Change and Resilience: “You have to be whole yourself to care wholly for someone else”

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By: Cheryl Nelson, Clinical Resource Leader, Emergency Department

“You’re so sweet; they’re going to eat you alive.”

The Emergency Department (ED) is a challenging and busy place. It’s in a constant state of change, with high-stress, emotionally-charged cases.

So when I told my colleagues I’d be transferring to the ED, the general reaction was: “You’re so sweet, they’re going to eat you alive.”

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When I started in the ED in 2005, the culture was immediately warm, supportive and inclusive. My colleagues introduced themselves right away, offered to help, and even asked if I needed anything on lunch or coffee runs. Twelve years later, I’m so proud this culture is still alive and thriving – especially given the challenging environment we work in.

‘Unburden it’

Earlier this year, our team experienced a devastating pediatric death in the Emergency Department. Sometimes, as healthcare providers, we don’t acknowledge the trauma that comes with caring for a patient. Working on challenging cases can trigger memories, thoughts and fears from our own experiences of loss.

It’s especially important when we experience these traumatic events, that we take a moment to pause, reflect and keep the lines of communication open, without blame or shame. I strongly encourage my staff to ‘unburden it’ and speak out using any number of channels – be it a team debrief, one-on-one session in my office, rounds, or attending a compassion fatigue workshop. You have to be whole yourself to care wholly for someone else.

We also build resiliency through an active social committee, hosting breakfasts, lunch and learns and wellness days. Sometimes, we even have a Patient Care Assistant who comes in on her days off to offer manicures to staff on their breaks. It makes people feel good and lighter. Most importantly, the staff owns this culture – they’ve built it and enjoy it.

‘Where there is change, there is fear’

Change is inevitable, especially in a fast-paced hospital environment. We always need to be up-to-date on policies, procedures, technology and changes in practice that will offer our patients safe, quality care.

Where there is change, there is fear. Whether it’s feeling insecure in a new process or fearing disruption to an otherwise comfortable routine. Fear of how change might shift our responsibilities, accountabilities and overall performance. Fear that we’re not good enough.

But once you get to the root cause of the fear and start to identify triggers – little by little, it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. The best way to face change is to support those who fear it most. Maybe they need more training, extra support or additional encouragement. Give your colleagues time to acknowledge and accept the change.

By taking away their fear and helping them understand why we need to change, they will be much likelier to embrace it.

A Greener and More Energy Efficient Future for Michael Garron Hospital

A Greener and More Energy Efficient Future for Michael Garron Hospital

By: Sarah Chow, Vice President Corporate Support & Chief Financial Officer
In my personal life, I have long been an advocate of pursuing and living in an environmentally-friendly manner. I try to minimize garbage and reduce my energy usage as much as possible. I always embrace the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – in that order whenever I can.
As Vice President of Corporate Support & Chief Financial Officer at Michael Garron Hospital, I have an opportunity to expand this commitment within my professional role. I firmly believe that, as a hospital, we have an obligation to ‘do no harm’ and that this extends to being good public stewards, both financially and environmentally.
To become ‘greener’ you sometimes have to spend money up front in order to see returns down the road – both a healthier environment and a better bottom line. The replacement of our cooling tower is an excellent example. This investment has contributed not only to Ontario’s conservation energy targets, for which we have been awarded an incentive cheque of nearly $200,000 from Toronto Hydro, but will increase efficiencies and reduce utility expenses for our hospital into the foreseeable future.
I’m proud of our other recent greening successes, including The Energy Efficiency Leadership Award from Greening Health Care, and the gold seal of recognition from the Green Hospital Scorecard initiative.
It’s important to remember that it is not just our facility services team who are responsible for ensuring we continue down this path of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility – it lies in the hands of all of us!
I’m committed to doing my part and hope you will too.
Please try to reduce unnecessary energy usage every day – by turning off lights, computers and unused equipment – but pay particular attention on days when you receive a ‘potential high energy use day’ email, because staying under our target on these days could mean considerable cost savings for the hospital.
Rather than having our scarce resources go to keeping the lights on, let’s all commit to thinking and acting ‘greener’. Everyone who works in our caring profession wants the same thing – more resources to facilitate improved patient care – and this is one tangible way that we can all help to make that a reality!

Respectful Behaviours: “I always wear my smile. I like to help others and it’s important to show it.”

Respectful Behaviours: “I always wear my smile. I like to help others and it’s important to show it.”

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By: Mario Tacardon, Patient Care Assistant, Surgery

I’ve been passionate about helping people for as long as I can remember. That’s always been my goal.

‘Respect your co-workers perspectives – you can learn a lot that way.’

My career in service began years ago in the Philippines. I was a police officer in the narcotics division. I would volunteer, on my own time, to visit grade five and six students and talk to them about drug prevention. I learned early on how important it is to work together and respect your co-workers perspectives. You can learn a lot that way.

Seventeen years ago I moved to Canada and my wife and I settled down with our kids, I wanted to continue to help people. I love connecting with people, hearing their stories, and bringing positive energy. Healthcare seemed like a perfect fit.

After completing a Personal Support Worker course and working with seniors in the community for many years, I accepted the role of Patient Care Assistant (PCA) at Michael Garron Hospital. Now, I feel so lucky to be helping patients in East Toronto. I’ve been here for 10 years.

‘We respect that we each have something to bring to the table’

As a PCA, I work directly with patients to take care of their personal care needs and daily routines, including bathing, dressing, hair washing and more.

The role of the PCA works very closely with nurses and team members to support patients and lend a hand on the unit. I can see clearly that everyone on the team has so much skills and knowledge to share. We work as a team. It’s never ‘my patient’ or ‘your patient’ – we address the needs of our patients together and respect that we each have something to bring to the table.

‘It’s important not to make assumptions’

As a team, we always pitch in and help when we can. We might not always agree, but we still know that we need to listen to each other. Then we can raise concerns in a respectful way.

Everyone has their own style and perspective, so it’s important not to make assumptions. Ask for opinions, ideas – listen – and be proactive about helping out. For example: raising safety concerns or unit repairs at huddles and even offer some solutions. I also try to cover the phones if someone is busy and it’s ringing and I give my team member the heads-up that a patient is asking for them.

It’s the little acts and gestures that can make the biggest difference. Bring positive energy, love what you do and respect the people you work with. There is no hard job as long as you love it.

I always wear my smile. I like to help others and it’s important to show it.

Appreciation: sometimes you just need to give your colleague a pat on the back for a job well done

Appreciation: sometimes you just need to give your colleague a pat on the back for a job well done

By: Dr. Chris Smith, Internal Medicine
I came to Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) in 2012 after a year as chief medical resident at Toronto General Hospital. I came having never worked or trained here, but I had heard so many positive things from colleagues and learners that I decided to come and meet with people in the medicine division. I was immediately struck by the dedication of physicians to the bedside care of their patients and by their commitment to improving the whole system of care in and out of the hospital. More than anything it was this culture within the medicine division that drew me here – a culture that feels appreciative and collegial.
What does that appreciation look like? It’s is when a colleague says “I see you made an interesting diagnosis on the weekend, can you tell me more about it,” or “I understand you had a challenging patient last night, let me tell you about a similar experience I had.”
These conversation openers often lead to rich discussions that serve many benefits. They help me feel as though we’re in this together, that any one of us could have faced a challenging case and come out of it the next day. These conversations also add to my confidence in my abilities as a diagnostician and clinician. Finally, they lead to learning about unique or rare diagnoses that we may have discovered or unique symptoms that we were able to manage. It’s through these conversations that I grow, feel valued and am able to move on from tough days.
As a physician I also see appreciation expressed across departments and programs. Rarely is this appreciation tied to a specific event or act, but more a generic thumbs up, if you will. When I cover a shift on a different unit, someone says “Oh, you’re on our unit this week. Great!” Other times a physicians will refer a patient to me despite never having met referring physicians.
I can’t speak positively enough about the supportive sub-culture in the medicine department that I both experience and contribute to. I often hear that other departments and units have great sub-cultures too. But what I would like to see more of is a cross-contamination of these; for all of us to reach across our boundaries and support colleagues across the hospital.
Sometimes you just need to give your colleague a pat on the back for a job well done, even if that colleague is on a different team. We should all step out of our bubble and congratulate members across MGH teams; for example, congratulate facility services for turning over patient rooms quickly during a surge, or diagnostic imaging for squeezing in that extra patient on a packed day.
If we do this, it will make us all better. It’s the people we interact with daily that make this a great place for staff and patients and keeps us here. Let’s take the best of all our sub-cultures and share them across the whole MGH community.

Clean Hands Save Lives

Clean Hands Save Lives

By Dr. Jeff Powis, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control
One interesting behaviour that I’ve noticed as an infectious disease physician is how nervously we health care workers approach a patient who may have bedbugs, or lice, or scabies. All of us – from physicians and nurses to the people who deliver food trays – tend to respect the infection control protocols of gowns and gloves and hand hygiene on these patients. Of course, that makes sense – we don’t want to bring home these “creepy crawlies” to our partners and children and thousand-dollar mattresses!
But what I find interesting is how many of us in the healthcare field don’t apply that same approach when the “creepy crawly” is not an insect but a bacteria or a virus.
On May 5th we celebrated the World Health Organization (WHO) World Hand Hygiene Day. This annual event is meant to raise the awareness and profile of the importance of hand hygiene. We all know that we need to wash our hands in order to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Despite this knowledge, we don’t wash our hands enough. Our best estimates of hand hygiene compliance (HHC) at our own hospital are approximately 50%.
When you touch a patient in hospital (or their bed or their table), you are potentially contaminating your hands with whatever microbes happen to be living in that patient’s environment. And if you don’t “decontaminate” your hands as you leave that patient’s room, you are just as likely – probably more likely – to pass on that infection to another patient, a colleague, or a family member, as you are if the patient had bedbugs.
On the morning of May 5th we spent time with MGH staff asking each of them to make a pledge to improve their own HHC. We took pictures of you holding a WHO placard with the 2017 slogan “Fight Antibiotic Resistance: Its In Your Hands”. Below is a collage of over 150 MGH staff photos. We will be placing these posters all over the hospital as a reminder to all of us of our pledge to improve HHC.
Together, let’s all embrace improving our HHC and keeping our patients safer. Remember that some of the most harmful “creepy crawlies” are the ones the human eye can’t see, but hand hygiene can eliminate!
Follow me on twitter @jpowi

Why “going it alone” doesn’t work in health care!

Why “going it alone” doesn’t work in health care!

By Irene Andress, Chief Nursing Executive
At Michael Garron Hospital, nurses play a key role in problem solving – applying their knowledge and skill at the frontlines and at the system level. Recently, I’ve been intrigued to revisit nursing theory in guiding our practice especially as it relates to the complex and ever changing needs of those we serve – our patients and families.
I encourage you to look at models like the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care. Developed in 1990’s, refined by Hardin, 2005, and rooted in the critical care setting, the core concept suggests that “synergy” results when the needs or characteristics of the patient/their circumstance matches the nurses’ core competencies.
At its core, successful models of care connect the right care provider with the priority patient need which considers how family and community contribute to the nurse – patient caring relationship. In our hospital, given our patient acuity and need, the Synergy theory is foundational to our care delivery model.
As the largest body of health care providers at MGH, nurses are situated in the care setting in many diverse roles from the bedside to the boardroom, working within great teams and in partnership with other clinical and corporate professionals.
I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments and achievements of many of MGH’s nurses: from Daisy Award winners to Nightingale nominees and recipients. Nursing is present in the details and when we get those details right, our patients and the broader health care system wins.
There’s an African proverb I know that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Let’s face it, in health care, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
And the truth is, no one person or professional – or category of nurse – has all the answers to solving all that ails the system. Our organization and broader health system works when we all work together, problem solving collaboratively with the interest of the patient and their family at the forefront.
As nurses, we must also remember we are one profession, many faces.
Yes. This is Nursing. And this is the MGH way.
I’d like to share a special video that highlights some of the important work that nurses – in partnership with other professionals – engage in that’s helping to improve the safety and quality of care we provide.

Happy Nursing Week!
Join me on Twitter @IreneAndress

Healing One Person at a Time

Healing One Person at a Time

By @SarahEDowney1
President & CEO

“Heal the person; heal the family; heal the community; heal the nation.”
– Elder Little Brown Bear, The Aboriginal Healing Program

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had the honour to spend time with Elder Little Brown Bear, newly appointed to the Order of Ontario. He leads the Aboriginal Healing Program on College and Yonge Street – just one of the programs within our Toronto East Health Network.

The Elder graciously and generously explained some of the ways his teaching and wisdom are impacting many of the community members who come to the program to begin their healing journeys.

That’s how I met Amanda.
She told me that when she got to the program she was broken and lost. Ravaged by the effects of an addiction to substances, she ended up almost losing it all, including her children. But like many people who come to the program, her story is one of hope and redemption.
Through the healing process that provides traditional teachings with the blending of Western information, she reconnected to her culture and Indigenous roots.
She reclaimed her inner spirit. Where she once felt a sense of emptiness; she now feels the fullness of life. Through tears, she walked me through her healing journey and her emotional experience of being reunited with her children.

Of course she didn’t do it alone. She says she was guided by her Creator and the gentle hand of Elder Little Brown Bear. And it’s community leaders like him who are making a difference, healing one person at a time and who embody our vision: Create Health. Build Communities.
To Create Health, Elder Little Brown Bear says we need to start by healing the person; then the family; then the community; and then nation. His philosophy is but a simple one: “People don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
As Canadians it’s our duty to understand, support and encourage healing in the traditional way. As the Elder has often stated, “Being Indigenous is a way of life not a life style.” For what we do, we’re helping to close the gap in social, health and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
And so in the spirit of healing and Elder Little Brown Bear, Chi Miigwetch. (Thank you)

Another Step Closer to our New Building!

Another Step Closer to our New Building!

By Robert Orr
Vice President, Redevelopment
I’m thrilled to share that as of 7:30 p.m. last evening, our redevelopment project Request for Proposals went live on the government’s procurement website, followed by a press release that was issued at 9:00 a.m. this morning. The three bidders that were selected last summer now have our design documents and will begin preparing their proposals to build our new building.
A big thank you to everyone at MGH for your support and hard work in helping the organization achieve this significant milestone!
So what’s next for MGH?
Over the six months, we will be working closely with Infrastructure Ontario and attending over 100 bidder meetings to ensure each of our three bidders has the information they require. Many clinical and support key staff members will be asked to participate. Bidder proposals will be received in early August, followed by five months of evaluation with contracts being signed in January 2018. Construction will begin shortly thereafter.
The Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre will be the largest construction project in the history of our hospital. A cornerstone enabler to our mission; Create Health, Build Community.
If you’d like to learn more about Michael Garron Hospital’s redevelopment project and celebrate this exciting milestone, please join us next week. We’ll be hosting an Open House on F5 next Friday February 10th, 2017 from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. There will be prizes, treats & refreshments and all staff, physicians and volunteers are encouraged to attend.

Michael Garron Hospital Redefined – Our New Brand

Michael Garron Hospital Redefined – Our New Brand

By Sarah Downey President & CEO
Today we celebrated a very special birthday – 88 years as east Toronto’s community hospital – and a new defining moment in our history as we announced our new vision, logo, colours and brand.
It’s been just over a year since we received the incredible $50M gift from the Garron family and changed our name to the Toronto East Health Network, with our hospital campus being called the Michael Garron Hospital.
This gift and the completion of our last strategic plan provided an opportunity to update our brand and to engage with our stakeholders to take pulse of how best to describe ourselves. During the process we spoke to and engaged hundreds of people both inside and outside the hospital walls, including many of you.
What we heard was remarkably consistent.
We heard that “community” is the number one word identified with us and that we need to help improve the lives of those in our community, not just treat their illnesses, by working with our partners to improve their economic and social conditions.
Today, Michael Garron Hospital will continue its role as an anchor in east Toronto – a source of pride and inspiration for those who call our community, home.
We will be guided by a renewed vision as we move forward:
Create Health. Build Community.
It’s simple, yet powerful. It’s our “why” and what motivates us.
Creating health symbolizes our commitment to helping people live to their full potential – mentally, spiritually, physically and socially.
Through creating health we will foster a strong community. Both are inextricably linked, which in fact defines our new corporate mission:
“Our community inspires us to deliver exemplary care, develop innovative partnerships and mentor the next generation of health care providers. Together we will make a difference and change the face of health in East Toronto and beyond.”
Our new logo and colours are the visual representation of these ideas, which show our hospital reflected onto the community and the community reflected on us – representing the idea of working together to create something new.
The logo’s principle colour – “Greenery” is fresh and bold, symbolic of renewal, growth and rebirth.
Our logo will develop more meaning for all of us as we begin to live our new vision, mission and values – Compassion, Integrity, Courage, and Accountability.
Together they will enable us to lay the foundation for good health for the next generation.
Speaking of the next generation, click here to see what they have to say about Michael Garron Hospital and its new logo!

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