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.
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!
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Guest blogger: Dr. Rajiv Singal, Urologist & Surgeon, MGH
Recently, I had the opportunity to share my medical expertise on the other side of the world in Malawi, a dusty, hot, sub-Saharan African country. As a urologist and surgeon practicing at Michael Garron Hospital, I’m proud of the care we provide. The Canadian health care system is not perfect, but in contrast to other parts of the world, our system provides access to all who come through our doors.
My work as a board member for Digitas International, a medical and research organization dedicated to improving health care for people facing a high burden of disease and unequal access to services, certainly showed me ways where and how I could give back and share my medical training and expertise.
I came to Malawi in my own personal attempt to understand what urology and surgery in a resource country might look like – and with the ultimate goal to improve training and leave something sustainable.
In terms of wealth, the people of Malawi are relatively poor, but rich in friendliness and hospitality. Almost everywhere I visited, I was met with warmth. They teasingly smile when I say “Mulibwanji” (hello) or “Zikomo” (thank you.) And despite the obvious lack of resources, there’s an abundance of compassion, dedication and a quiet grace and dignity with which most people live their lives.
I was indeed inspired by my two-week sojourn into the warm heart of Africa.
For me, learning is lifelong. Growing means sometimes stepping out of my comfort zone and taking chances. I was given the gift of this wonderful adventure and opportunity and now I’d like to share it with you through my blog posts. I hope you enjoy my adventure and reflection and apply it to your practice too.
Enjoy the read. Click here.
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By Dr. Rajiv Singal, Urologist & Foundation Board Member
I cannot begin to tell you what great pleasure it gives me to write today on behalf of the physician staff as well as a member of the foundation board and perhaps most importantly as a friend of Berna and Myron Garron. This morning we announced an historic gift to Toronto East General Hospital. At $50 million dollars it is monumental. It is the second largest gift to any hospital in Canadian history.
Our hospital will now be called the Michael Garron Hospital. We will also use the opportunity to create a larger Toronto East Health Network that will tie all of this institution’s partners across the city and provide a vehicle for further growth.
The Garrons in so many ways define the best of what I think makes being a good citizen. They embody what we all hope to be. Having built their success in this amazing and generous country, their long-standing commitment to give back, in order to support and enhance our most important and valued public institutions is extraordinary. In our rapidly changing, resource challenged healthcare environment, Canadians still expect and deserve the best evidence-based care. Without the collective philanthropic spirit of all of us this would not be possible. In 2010 we combined to give 2.1 billion dollars to various institutions.
A quick look through the recent past and one realizes that the Garrons have supported many of Canada’s leading healthcare institutions. Over the last five years alone, in addition to today, they have given away $30 million to Sick Kids, $10 million to Princess Margaret Hospital and $10 million to IWK in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Clearly they care very deeply about the country they live in. That the Garrons now recognize our great hospital with this singularly unprecedented gift is personally very gratifying to me. Over the last three years as I have come to know the Garrons, they have come to know and believe in TEGH and have expressed that support with a series of progressively larger gifts. It is very fitting that we should celebrate a gift of this magnitude by renaming the hospital in honour of Michael Garron.
Myron Garron grew up in Westport Nova Scotia, a small fishing village off the Fundy coast. If you look on a map it is quite remote, one of literally hundreds of unique and tightly-knit communities across this country. His ultimate success was built on that foundation, long a tradition in the Maritimes, of local community and hard work. My wife’s entire family has roots in the Maritimes. My kids have spent every summer on Prince Edward Island. I understand this ethos well. As many other Maritimers have done over the years, Myron came to Toronto many years ago to pursue a career. While here, he met Berna while working at the Bank of Nova Scotia and started a family. Michael, their eldest, was born at TEGH.
At the age of six, Michael was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that ultimately claimed his life in 1975 at the age of 13. Michael’s story is both intensely heartbreaking and ultimately inspirational. Before he died his parents made a promise that he would never be forgotten. That promise has entirely informed their history of giving. Today represents the ultimate fulfillment of that pledge. Michael Garron, like so many others, a child of the Toronto East community, finally came back home today. His legacy will ultimately be borne out in the great things that this institution will do for many years to come. It will be defined by excellence, compassion, courage and integrity. It will lead by example and with a mandate of inclusivity. In essence we will build on the very things that have brought us from 1929 to this remarkable day.
Watching the reaction of Berna and Myron to the unveiling of the new banner was very emotional for myself and the entire hospital community. Myron spoke with great pride today about his family, his son and their commitment to the Michael Garron Hospital.
This hospital has occupied a unique place in our healthcare system, serving both the needs of this community as well leading on a provincial and national scale. This has very much been the order of business for 86 years.
To borrow a little from our CEO Sarah Downey, today’s extraordinary gift essentially provides a key that opens the door to a whole new adventure. As our healthcare system evolves into the 21st century, this gift will ensure that we have access to leading-edge medical technology in order to provide the best care for our patients. The creation of two research chairs will also provide a platform from which we will be able to innovate and lead. For this we are eternally grateful to the Garrons
I will close on a personal note. I have been a proud member of the surgical staff at Toronto East General Hospital over the last 20 years. We have accomplished many things and have several well-respected and talented departments. We are an integral part of the University of Toronto. As I look ahead I will be proud to continue to be a member of the medical staff at the new Michael Garron Hospital. I hope to be able to do so for many years to come.
Make sure you continue to follow the jewel at 825 Coxwell, as it heads into a bright future as the Michael Garron Hospital. Special things happen here. It will always make you proud.
Thank you Berna and Myron for sharing the memory of your son with all of us.
To watch the full news conference of the announcement, please view it here.