2020 News

Integrated Care in Action: Collaborative Partnership Delivers Care in the Community

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By VHA
Kew Beach Day Staff with Carol and Sarah

Kew Beach staff with Courtney Bean (left), Carol Annett (back centre)
and MGH President and CEO Sarah Downey (front centre)

VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) is an active member in twelve Ontario Health Teams in the regions where we provide service, working with partners to provide integrated community-based care.

Two examples that have taken place this year as part of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) Ontario Health Team collaborative work demonstrate the value and impact of these coordinated efforts.

This spring, in the race to find new ways to protect and support more patients and families amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and increase hospital capacity, Michael Garron Hospital, Toronto East Health Network (MGH) and VHA collaborated to create a new space for patients who were in MGH’s Alternative Level of Care (ALC) unit. These patients require 24/7 nursing and personal support care, but their needs are typically not as intense as other hospital patients.

“VHA and MGH worked together to find a suitable location and our team sourced all the equipment, from hospital beds and linens to medication carts and protective equipment. We got the Kew Beach Unit, a temporary hospital wing based at the Atrium at Kew Beach Retirement Home in East Toronto, staffed with VHA nurses, personal support workers, rehab service providers and cleaners, and up and running in just two weeks,” shared Courtney Bean, VHA’s Vice President, Integrated Care & Partnerships.

The move to Kew Beach creates more capacity for life-saving care at MGH and has eased anxiety for the patients and their families.

“When I talk to my mom, I can tell she’s happy,” said Lorraine, whose mother Isobel was a patient at MGH and was moved to the Kew Beach Unit. While Lorraine was not able to visit her mother for a portion of the pandemic as part of the efforts to keep everyone protected, the nurses at the Kew Beach unit provided a lot of comfort throughout the transition.

“They always took the time to provide detailed updates and even arrange phone check-ins so I could speak to my mom. My mom has received great care,” said Lorraine. 

“This project shows the value of true authentic partnership,” added Courtney. “Its success demonstrates what can happen when like-minded organizations come together and are both focused on what’s most important to our clients and patients.”

Another example of integrated care in action that has taken place this fall is in response to winter surge, the increased pressure on health and community care services that occurs each winter during flu season. This year, with the combined impact of the second wave of COVID-19, the flu vaccine is more important than ever to help keep people healthy and out of hospital.

Together with ETHP partner organizations WoodGreen Community Services and Toronto Community Housing, VHA has delivered mobile flu clinics in community housing buildings with registered nurses and volunteers visiting door-to-door to deliver flu vaccines to East Toronto’s most vulnerable.

Sydney Olsen, VHA RN
Sydney Olsen, VHA RN administers a flu vaccine during a mobile flu clinic session.

“During this challenging time, many seniors I’ve encountered are afraid and would prefer to stay home, even if it means avoiding their annual flu shot,” said Sydney Olden, a VHA Registered Nurse (RN) involved in the mobile flu clinics.

Prior to this year, resident Bruce Walhur hadn’t received a flu vaccine in over a decade. “It was hard for me to afford transportation to a clinic,” said Bruce. “My neighbours and I were all very excited that the service would be coming to our building.”

To make this project a success, the collaboration of community partners was essential. 

“Each partner organization brings a unique set of resources and strengths to the project. This project is a massive undertaking with a lot of moving parts,” said Jatinder Dhaliwal, Project Manager of Ontario Health Team Initiatives, Community Care Unit at WoodGreen Community Services.

“We were able to target specific buildings to make the biggest impact possible,” he said, adding that this approach helped identify buildings where there was a population of seniors that would be considered high risk and where vaccinations would be a great method of preventative care. 

“This community-based approach to winter surge enables us to wrap care around clients, patients and families and to localize care for our most vulnerable communities and neighbourhoods,” noted Carol Annett, President and CEO of VHA.