Hamilton Health Sciences Community Report
FROM OUR LEADERS
The impact of the worldwide, COVID-19 pandemic affected all aspects of our operations, from the front lines to all of our support services. It has taken a deep toll on our patients and their families, our community, and our team.
We are so proud of everyone at HHS – staff, physicians, volunteers and learners – for rising up to meet every challenge head-on.
As one of the largest hospitals in Ontario, HHS was called upon to play a leadership role right from the beginning. Our people were intensely involved in the response planning effort locally, regionally and provincially. We were also an integral part of Ontario’s response to provide care for patients with COVID-19.
No hospital acts alone, especially in a crisis. Our city has a long history of collaboration among health partners and it paid off over the past year. Working together with Hamilton Public Health, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, primary care physicians and other health provider partners, we established testing centres, vaccine clinics, a satellite health centre and more. Hospitals across the entire region similarly pulled together to ensure we were mounting the most effective and coordinated response possible.
In the meantime, the daily healthcare mission of our organization carried on. Babies were born, diagnoses made, and treatments and human support provided to many people. And the important transformation of our hospital also kept pace, including the work to start implementing a leading edge hospital information system, rebuilding our West Lincoln Memorial Hospital site, and the largescale acquisition of new medical technology and equipment.
As an HHS team, we have shown what we’re made of over this past year. And although the challenges continue, we will keep rising up, together.
President & CEO
Chair, Board of Directors
urgent, unpredictable, and complex:
PANDEMIC YEAR ONE
How do we tell the story of a year like no other?
It was a testing ground for processes and partnerships. A stage for rapidly changing information. A roller coaster of emotion.
Each chapter had its own unique needs, challenges and accomplishments. And at every point in the journey, the expertise and leadership of the entire HHS family – paired with courage and compassion – got us through.
Drag the timeline or use the arrows to scroll through COVID-19 milestones. Then, view the next section using the numbers 1-4.
THE SECOND WAVE
A RACE BETWEEN VACCINATIONS & VARIANTS
We salute our people for demonstrating resilience and heroism during an extraordinary time. Click on each photo to read their stories.
CARE THAT DOESN’T QUIT HHS EXPERIENCE GOES VIRTUAL
Virtual care services for patients of HHS – including medical appointments by phone or video conferencing – have skyrocketed by 1,500 per cent since the start of the pandemic. Other forms of virtual care, which were already increasing even before the pandemic, include at-home monitoring. Patients receive monitoring devices to bring home following hospital stays or surgery and are followed remotely by healthcare providers.
Here are some examples of achievements in virtual care made by HHS during the past year:
Indigenous children from the James Bay and Hudson’s Bay regions now have access to eye care at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). In early 2021, Dr. Kourosh Sabri, a pediatric ophthalmologist working in collaboration with the Weeneebayko Health Authority (WAHA) and a team of software developers from McMaster University, launched a new Indigenous Children Eye Examination (ICEE) program. Through virtual consultations with eye care professionals at MCH, the program makes it possible for children to receive eye care they may not be able to access otherwise.
An average of 2,000 long-term care residents are transferred annually to a local emergency department, and approximately half need to be admitted. Now long-term care home residents can receive emergent or urgent care without the risks of a physical transfer, through a program called LTC-CARES HAMILTON. In April 2020, HHS teamed up with St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to provide 24-hour access to emergency care physicians via telephone or video conferencing, enabling patients to stay in their own residence and the on-site care teams to be involved.
People who have had heart failure often experience recurring hospital admissions and reduced quality of life, and up to 50 per cent can die within five years of diagnosis. During the pandemic, the HHS Heart Failure Program worked with the Community Paramedic Remote Monitoring Program to monitor patients’ vital signs in real-time and provide early warning of deteriorating health so that quick intervention could take place.
When the pandemic forced the closure of the Child and Youth Mental Health Program (outpatient) at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre, teams quickly mobilized to ensure high risk, vulnerable youth and their families continued to receive services. Throughout the year, the virtual team maintained the same pre-pandemic service levels and visit volumes through online and phone visits.
In a southern Ontario version of “doctors without borders,” experts in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) are providing virtual consultations for critically ill babies being cared for at Niagara Health. Using video conferencing technology through the Ontario Telemedicine Network, the team from MCH can assess the patient and help develop a plan of care. This reduces the need for Niagara infants to be transferred to Hamilton, which can be stressful on families.
Going home from the hospital quickly and safely is more achievable than ever thanks to home monitoring technology that keeps recently-released patients under the watchful eye of clinical staff. Specially-trained nurses run a central command centre where they receive regular information from patients recovering at home. Patients are given a tablet computer and monitoring equipment that records blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen levels, temperature and weight. As their vital signs are recorded, nurses receive the information instantly and can bring in physicians if needed for immediate intervention. COVID-19 patients, surgery patients and others are benefiting from the monitoring system to safely recover at home.
NEWS IN RESEARCH, INNOVATION, AND EXCELLENCE
In 2020, HHS was once again named among the top research hospitals in Canada. Research and discoveries at HHS are transforming the way healthcare is provided locally, nationally and around the world. These research achievements are made possible through strong partnerships between HHS physicians, researchers and patients and our commitment to collaboration. HHS’ many valued partners include McMaster University, other hospitals, academic institutions and private enterprises in Canada and beyond.
A clinical trial involving patients at Juravinski Cancer Centre is offering hope that advanced lung cancer can treated more like a chronic disease, where people receive treatment for longer periods to suppress the cancer. The trial, led by Dr. Rosalyn Juergens, combines chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and is showing positive outcomes. Several trial participants have lived beyond four years and are still receiving treatment, with no sign of their cancer progressing.
HHS’ interventional cardiology team was the first in the country to perform a lifesaving cardiac valve repair procedure as part of the TRILUMINATE trial, an international study underway at select hospitals in Canada, the United States and Europe. The trial is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a catheter-based, non-surgical treatment for patients with severe tricuspid regurgitation – a condition where the tricuspid heart valve doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart. This forces the heart to work harder and in severe cases can lead to heart failure and death. Without the need for surgery, patients recover faster and typically spend only one night in hospital.
Exercise keeps the brain and body healthy as people age, and can also help reduce social isolation during COVID-19. The GERAS DANcing for Cognition and Exercise (DANCE) is a new evidence-based program that provides social connection with virtual livestream dance classes. Researchers at HHS’ GERAS Centre for Research in Aging are studying the impact of these dance classes on frailty, falls and cognition. The program is in partnership with McMaster University, and the YMCA Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, and is funded by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI).
Digital pathology could transform the way pathology is conducted around the world and lead to better, faster patient care. Instead of diagnosing disease one slide at a time under a microscope, there could be thousands of images to compare it to online – like Google for pathology. Dr. Clinton Campbell is leading a one-year pilot project in digital pathology in partnership with Canadian company Huron Digital Pathology. Harnessing artificial intelligence, it’s the only project of its kind in Canada
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Sheila Singh is a leading researcher in glioblastoma (GBM) – an aggressive, incurable type of brain cancer. Dr. Singh’s passion for this research motivated her to co-found the Canadian research company Empirica, acquired last year by the American company Century. A newly-created subsidiary, Century Therapeutics Canada, is now based at the McMaster Innovation Park, helping HHS continue to attract top-flight researchers to Hamilton to address one of the most difficult and complex cancers.
A homegrown innovation with the potential for worldwide impact, the MyHeadHealth mobile app will help people manage the effects of concussion in their daily lives. The app provides a personalized treatment plan, instructional videos, educational tools and a way to log symptoms. It was developed by HHS physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Gihan Perera in partnership with HHS’ CREATE (CentRE for dAta science and digiTal hEalth). HHS is the test base for this app, but the plan is to scale it out to other healthcare systems. The app could become the international standard of care for chronic concussion rehabilitation.
The long-awaited Ron and Nancy Clark Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies Unit opened at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in fall 2020. The new unit means more people can receive stem cell transplants, either allogeneic (from a donor), or autologous (using the patient’s own stem cells). HHS is one of just three Ontario hospitals providing all forms of adult stem cell transplants. The expansion results from $25-million in funding from the Government of Ontario and a $5-million investment from community donors through the HHS Foundation’s successful, Tomorrow Stems From You campaign.
In 2020, a new partnership was created between De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre (DAHC) and the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre at McMaster Children’s Hospital to improve access to diagnostic assessment for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) for children, youth and families who identify as Indigenous. Together, DAHC and MCH are providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment and diagnostic services to indigenous communities regionally.
Against the backdrop of growing surgical wait lists and constrained bed availability due to the pandemic, a new Arthroplasty Unit (AU) at Juravinski Hospital ensures that hip and knee total joint replacement surgeries proceed as scheduled. The new AU, opened in November, supports patients to return home on the same day or the day after their surgery. Up to 40 per cent of total joint arthroplasty patients are able to return home the same day as their procedure.
HHS earned a distinction in stroke services from Accreditation Canada, recognizing our national leadership in the delivery of high quality stroke care and meeting best practices. Hamilton General Hospital is the designated Regional Stroke Centre for Central South Ontario, and home to the Integrated Stroke Program. This centre of excellence uses innovative approaches to stroke care, providing treatment including stroke prevention, emergency stroke care including the delivery of clot-busting medication and life-saving clot retrieval procedures, specialized post-stroke acute care and rehabilitation.
The President’s Task Force on Equity, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) to provide leadership on our commitment to EDI was established. The task force is co-chaired by Dr. Smita Halder, Chair, HHS Medical Advisory Committee; Dr. Sunjay Sharma, physician site lead, Hamilton General Hospital; and Bruce Squires, President, McMaster Children’s Hospital. It will take action to ensure that everyone who enters HHS feels safe, welcome, and respected.
INVESTMENTS IN OUR PEOPLE AND OUR TOOLS
The best patient care in the future will require new processes, equipment and partnerships to keep up with new technology, changing demographics and increasing patient expectations.
We have stayed the course on investments that will ensure Hamilton Health Sciences remains a high-performing hospital that delivers exceptional and safe care to the patients we serve.
INVESTMENTS IN OUR PEOPLE AND OUR TOOLS
Over $105 million was invested in equipment and tools to aid in patient diagnosis and treatment, and to make critical upgrades to facilities and systems. Below is a breakdown of how the $105 million was used:
- $33 million – Facilities: expanded stem cell unit at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre
- $11.6 million – Facilities: infrastructure upgrades at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital
- $13.9 million – Other facilities
- $5.9 million – Health and safety
- $4.3 million – New imaging and ultrasound system at Hamilton General Hospital
- $21 million – Medical equipment
- $720,000 – New fleet of incubator warmers at McMaster Children’s Hospital
- $6.1 million – Computer technology
The Cost of COVID-19
An additional $14 million in extraordinary funding was provided by the Government of Ontario to support our COVID-19 pandemic response
- $500,000 – Computer technology
- $4 Million – Facilities
- $1.3 million – Health and safety
- $8.8 million – Medical equipment
- $2.5 million – Additional 250 stretchers to support pandemic response