Expanding the health-care safety net: Innovative resources for hospitals and their staff
The issues facing Canada’s health-care system have been top of mind for many in the last 22 months.
And throughout the pandemic, public health officials have constantly stressed the importance of not overwhelming hospitals and their staff as they care for COVID-19 patients.
But for those who work in the field of infectious diseases, hospitals caring for a surge in patients in the face of a virus is not a new phenomenon.
“Hospitals have gotten used to just being aware that when we get into the colder seasons, we’re going to start to see influenza circulating, we know it’s going to get busier in the hospitals, we know we’re going to have higher volumes of admissions, we know we might have to do things that we don’t like doing, like putting beds in hallways,” University Health Network’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control Dr. Susy Hota told CTV News Toronto.
So if the shortcomings are known, why aren’t they addressed?
“That was just accepted, it was sort of the accepted norm of how healthcare in Canada in the winter was functioning,” Hota added.
And although the scale of COVID-19 and its impact on the Canadian health-care system has been unprecedented, there are lessons to be learned from previous viruses, some of which are being used right here in Ontario.
In 2017, Humber River Hospital in Toronto launched its command centre, the first-of-its kind in Canada.
The state-of-the-art, 4,500 square foot facility allows a team of professionals from across the health-care spectrum to monitor hospital data in real time, including analyzing patient movements, monitoring the status of the emergency room, and anticipating potential gaps in care, before they happen.
And following the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the hospital launched a new section of the facility to monitor the virus and help with pandemic response and planning.
“It’s where we know everything that’s going on in the hospital and we take action,” Jane Casey, director of emergency and command centre at Humber River, told CTV News Toronto.
“Honestly, you wouldn’t fly on a plane without an air traffic control department, why would you ever have a big complex hospital without a command centre.”
Casey encouraged other Ontario hospitals to implement similar digital infrastructure, but doing so is not cheap.
“I think the provinces [and territories] need more funding from the federal government, Paul-Emile Cloutier, president and CEO of HealthCareCan, a national advocacy group for health organizations and hospitals across Canada, told CTV News Toronto.
“We’re way behind in terms of infrastructure, when you look at the physical structures of our hospitals, we’re behind in terms of digital infrastructure. We’re behind in many areas, even in research and innovation, when you compare ourselves to other countries,” Cloutier said.
Currently, the federal government contributes 22 per cent in health-care costs nationwide through the Canada Health Transfer payment, while provinces and territories pick up the tab for the remaining 78 per cent.
In March of last year, Canada’s premiers urged the feds to expand their share of health-care costs to 35 per cent, which would result in an injection of an additional $28 billion into the sector.
“The public will be certainly sensitized, after two years of pandemic, that the system is certainly not serving them as well as it should be,” Cloutier added.
However, while it’s clear more money is needed to address the shortcomings of Canada’s fragile health-care system, strides have been made to support the wellbeing of those working inside those facilities.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government invested $194 million in one-time emergency funding for mental health and addictions services for those in the general public and those working in health care.
The government also invested $23.6 million to support internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) -- a service covered by OHIP which has been used thousands of health-care workers since -- and $12.4 million over two years to provide one-on-one support for workers in the sector by way of a provincial collaboration between five psychiatric hospitals.
“Health-care workers have really shouldered large physical and emotional burdens from doing their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health-care workers have demonstrated experiencing negative mental health impacts from the type of work that their doing,” Judith Laposa told CTV News Toronto.
A psychologist and clinician at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which is one of the five hospitals participating in the program, Laposa was key in developing the mental health supports for health-care workers at the Toronto facility.
“A lot of health-care workers have talked to us about experiencing anxiety, depression, burnout, stress, moral distress,” Laposa said. “The idea is by having these five psychiatric hospitals partnering, we can really help provide service to health-care workers close to their own communities.”
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Queen Street campus is seen in Toronto, Sunday, March 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
The program allows health-care workers the opportunity to speak with a live therapist to discuss their mental health challenges and presents them with options to support their emotional wellbeing through psychiatric medication or psychotherapy.
“We know these types of treatments are highly successful. We know that when we get treatment, we feel better, but we can also function better,” she said.
To learn more about the supports available to those working in health care click here.
With files from Rahim Ladhani
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
A former police officer, the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo's former fire commissioner, and a grandmother who fed the needy for decades were among those killed in a racist attack by a gunman on Saturday in a Buffalo grocery store. Three people were also wounded.
A racist ideology seeping from the internet's fringes into the mainstream is being investigated as a motivating factor in the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. Most of the victims were Black.
A driver who struck and killed a woman and her three young daughters nearly two years ago 'gambled with other people's lives' when he took the wheel, an Ontario judge said Monday in sentencing him to 17 years behind bars.
A jury trial is to begin today for a man and his son who are accused of killing two Métis hunters.
One of Canada's most successful Second World War flying aces, James "Stocky" Edwards of Comox, B.C., has died at the age of 100.
Canadians welcome Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as they embark on a three-day, travel-filled visit starting Tuesday. Between what senior government officials, Canadian Heritage, Rideau Hall and Clarence House have released, here's everything we know about the royal tour and its itinerary.
'Aquaman' actor Amber Heard told jurors on Monday that Johnny Depp slammed her against a wall and wrapped a shirt around her neck during their 2015 honeymoon on the Orient Express.
A man opened fire during a lunch reception at a Southern California church, killing one person and wounding five older people before a pastor hit the gunman on the head with a chair and parishioners hog-tied him with electrical cords.
Scientists have found evidence that an underwater volcanic eruption in the South Pacific earlier this year, the biggest in decades, created pressure waves so strong they circled the planet multiple times and blasted through the Earth's atmosphere.
Quebec coroner calls for independence in public health director role in final report on long-term care home deaths
The government of Quebec needs to ensure the role of the public health director is independent and without any 'political constraint,' a Quebec coroner has recommended in a final report into deaths at long-term care homes during the pandemic's first wave.
Quebec should aim to welcome 100,000 immigrants per year, according to the Conseil du patronat (CPQ).
Montreal commuters woke up to spiking gas prices as some stations' price for regular is currently a record high and over $2.15-per-litre.
No injuries are reported after a pick-up truck reportedly struck the back of a school bus on Monday morning.
The call came in just before midnight and police responded to the area of Wellington Road south and Bradley Avenue.
Three people have been charged in connection with an alleged homicide in Grand Bend
The investigation into the suspicious death of an eight-year-old boy in Cambridge continues with police expected to speak and release further information Monday afternoon.
Tanti, 27, was stabbed during a confrontation outside a downtown Guelph bar on MacDonell Street around 2 a.m. on February 29, 2020.
Eleven days after red paint was found splattered over the base of the Queen Victoria statue at Victoria Park, the City of Kitchener has cleaned the monument.
Complaints about people hunting and shooting roaming cows in the area of Old Woman Road, on Highway 17 north of Sault Ste. Marie, were reported by the OPP in tweets late Saturday and early Sunday.
Three new forest fires were discovered in northeastern Ontario
Ontario Provincial Police in the Sudbury area had a busy weekend dealing with stunt drivers, including one who went 71 km/h above the speed limit.
The Canada Day main stage will be at LeBreton Flats park just west of downtown Ottawa this year, not on Parliament Hill.
The Terry Fox statue across from Parliament Hill will need to be moved to make way for a new building to house MPs and senators, committee rooms and an Indigenous Peoples' space.
The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est continues to investigate the dress code "blitz" at École secondaire catholique Béatrice-Desloges last Thursday, which students said left them feeling degraded and humiliated.
Windsor police are actively investigating a report of a suspicious package in east Windsor.
The Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors’ report shows housing sales decreased for the second straight month, but the average price continues to increase.
The University of Windsor announced Monday its plan to build a new six-storey, 440-room student residence next spring.
A truck rollover on Highway 400 south of Newmarket is causing major delays Monday, according to provincial police.
An OPP cruiser flipped onto its roof shortly after noon Monday.
A fashion market is coming to the Town of Innisfil next month.
A jury of three women and two men has been chosen in the coroner's inquest into the death of Chantel Moore -- a 26-year-old Indigenous woman fatally shot during a wellness check by police in Edmundston, N.B.
An RCMP tactical team tasked with tracking down a mass shooter in April 2020 was dealing with the aftermath of his deadly toll in Portapique, N.S., when it was alerted hours later that he had continued his rampage in a community more than 40 kilometres away.
Two men are facing charges, including attempted murder, after a man was found injured in Halifax’s Fairview neighbourhood Saturday night.
The Calgary Flames have defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime in Game 7 of their first-round NHL playoff series Sunday night to advance to the second round.
A new Calgary Transit pilot that allows bicycles on CTrains at all times, including peak travel hours, is now in effect.
According to the government, Alberta saw 6,908 ATV-related emergency room and urgent care visits between 2015 and 2020.
Winnipeg police say human remains found in North Kildonan early Monday morning are believed to be the result of a homicide.
Water watchers are cautiously optimistic now that the Red River crest has passed through the Rural Municipality of Morris.
After almost four years on the runway, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada has spread its wings into a new space.
A 23-year-old man has been arrested and charged after two women were groped in a busy area of downtown Vancouver in broad daylight.
Canada Post unveiled a new line of stamps Monday that are meant to raise awareness of the plight of five endangered species of whales.
A so-called “resistance movement” is planned at Vancouver City Hall Monday, as those opposed to a controversial plan to dramatically densify the Broadway corridor push back.
The Alberta man accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of a 24-year-old woman and her 16-month-old child is due in court on Monday.
A Parkland County man has been charged in connection to sex crimes involving a teenager, and police believe there may be more victims.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is in Washington in an effort to convince Capitol Hill lawmakers that his province is their best bet for North American energy security.