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'Culture' shift taking place at Chilliwack General Hospital

Dr. Ken Hirst (second right) works with fellow hospital staff to help a patient get mobilized at Chilliwack General Hospital. Behind him is one of the new whiteboards that help with patient motivation and communication.  - SUBMITTED PHOTO
Dr. Ken Hirst (second right) works with fellow hospital staff to help a patient get mobilized at Chilliwack General Hospital. Behind him is one of the new whiteboards that help with patient motivation and communication.
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Lying in a hospital bed may seem like 'just what the doctor ordered' — but in most cases it's not an ideal healing place.

Being home is often what's best for a patient, says Dr. Ken Hirst, Medical Co-Director, Head of CGH Department of Family Practice. After receiving acute care in hospital, patients released to heal at home are surrounded by familiar sights and sounds, and can be close to family and friends. And when that comfort of home is coupled with home health care, the path to healing is made even better.

Dr. Hirst will be speaking candidly about preventing hospital admissions with timely care at home in a talk scheduled for the evening of Thursday, Jan. 21.

The public is invited to come out and listen to the presentation, Top 10 Reasons Home Is Best. The evening also offers a chance to learn how to access home health services. The event is sponsored by the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and is just one part of a "culture shift" happening at Chilliwack General Hospital in regards to patient care.

Hirst is an advocate of mobilizing patients as soon as possible, and the hospital's newest mantra is to "ambulate unless not tolerated."

"What we did is asked for a culture shift," Dr. Hirst explains, "to get everyone who can be moving, to be moving."

Family members visiting the hospital are expected to take part in the mobilization, with a focus on getting back home again. Anyone who has been in hospital lately will have noticed the new white boards in each room. The boards help open up communication, and set up the idea that going home is a top priority.

They include spaces for information such as doctors' and nurses' names, daily goals and estimated date of discharge.

It gets the patients more involved with their health care, Dr. Hirst says.

There have also been changes throughout the hospital that patients and visitors may not notice, but are making a difference all the same.

"We've done a whole blend of things that have really helped with camaraderie," Hirst says.

A job well done is no longer unnoticed in the fast-paced work environment. It could result in a letter of appreciation, or even a gift card for a coffee shop.

"It creates that positive work environment," Hirst says, and from the feedback they've received so far, it seems to be working.

One staff member came back recently from an extended time away for a fill-in shift and confirmed the change in culture, saying "there are positive things going on."

Hirst has felt the change as well.

"I was quite a jaded person myself," he admits. "But a lot of those issues have been worked on, or even solved."

This culture shift didn't just happen overnight. It started with a decision to do things better, which led to Dr. Hirst creating a Site Council, consisting of Hospital Administration, Patient Care Coordinators, and Clinical Nurse Educators.

That move and the growth that's taken place since then led him to receive the Fraser Health Above and Beyond 2015 Award for Collaborative Partnerships. (Fellow Chilliwack Division of Family Practice physician Dr. Joshua Greggain won the same award, for Service Delivery Excellence.)

While Hirst  received the official recognition, he says the real accolades should go towards the Site Council.

Because of their work, he says, "health care workers can have a voice, express their ideas, and are being rewarded more for their effort and dedication to their jobs and patients."

Creating a better workplace in healthcare makes a difference in patient care, and the changes made at Chilliwack General are slowly being adopted by other hospitals.

To learn more, take part in the Top 10 Reasons HOME IS BEST talk, Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Rotary Hall Studio Theatre inside the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. The discussion begins at 6:30 p.m.

 

 

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