By Emily Dawson
Patient Flow Manager Kelly Tough has long recognized the need for Providence Healthcare and other health care providers to better support patients with bariatric care needs. With many years of clinical and leadership experience, Tough also recognizes that sometimes, the best opportunities for change are uncovered through a simple conversation with a trusted partner.
Through the expansive health care reforms underway across Ontario, the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care have challenged providers to work together to create a more integrated and co-ordinated system.
“Patients with bariatric care needs face significant barriers. At Providence, this translates into a need for more staff training and education, an investment in equipment, and a stronger understanding of community resources,” said Tough.
She reached out to Sarah Bingler, an occupational therapist at Michael Garron Hospital, to ask some questions on their practices and equipment inventory. This phone call led to a meeting at Providence with a group of flow co-ordinators, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and their assistants.
Bingler has a keen interest in changing care for people with bariatric needs. She completed a quality improvement fellowship with the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) last year, looking at the patient experience in this population.
“Our meeting was a great chance to share ideas, practices, and resources. We were problem solving for our own organizations while also focusing on what we can do in the broader system to support the patient journey and advance our collective care,” said Bingler.
“We need to understand what the next steps are for patients with bariatric care needs leaving our hospital, and the Providence team has a lot of experience with programs and resource options in the community. In fact, we’ve already put these insights into practice with a patient we were having difficulty connecting to the right resources.”
For Tough and her colleagues, they learned some valuable information about equipment options and clinical practices, especially around lifts and transfers.
“Providence and Michael Garron have a long history of collaboration. We each bring our own expertise and experience to the table, and we can now tap one another when we need advice or options in this area,” said Tough.