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volume 10, number 4 - August 2012

Way to go! We would like to acknowledge and thank the many individuals who have effectively and positively contributed to managing the C. difficile outbreak on 6 South at Hamilton General Hospital. The outbreak was declared on Monday July 31, 2012 and we are pleased to report that there have been no new cases on 6 South since then. Enhanced C. difficile infection prevention and control measures will remain in place until the outbreak can be declared over. In addition, we continue to collaborate with the Public Health Department to monitor the outbreak. The effect of C. difficile has also been a concern in our community. Over the past few weeks, there has been much in the media about C. difficile with a focus on hospitals. We would like to thank Dr. Dominik Mertz, Medical Director, Infection Control and Prevention, and Dr. Barry Lumb, Chief, Department of Medicine for providing our community with a better understanding of this illness. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to everyone at the Hamilton General Hospital who has been working tirelessly to prevent the further spread of this disease. Day in and day out, our staff and physicians are called upon to deliver the best care in the safest environment possible. This is a tall order considering the demands of our complex and high-paced hospital setting. Yet, every individual at HHS delivers on this promise to our patients every day. We encourage everyone to continue to remain attentive to essential infection prevention and control practices including hand hygiene practices and cleanliness of our hospitals - increased surveillance and good antibiotic stewardship. These steps are key to infection prevention and must be a part of our daily routines. Your ongoing efforts to ensure our hospital remains a safe environment for patients and visitors is truly appreciated and valued. Dr. Richard McLean, Vice President Medical Affairs & Quality Kirsten Krull, Vice President Professional Affairs and Chief Nursing Executive

Joel Dembe competes in the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup earlier this year in Seoul, South Korea. Joel, a former McMaster Children’s Hospital patient in the Children’s Development and Rehabilitation program, is heading to the 2012 Paralympics in London, England this month.

Set for success: Joel’s story The true effects of years of hospital and outpatient care aren’t always clear. Except when it’s someone like Joel Dembe. Joel underwent his first operation at McMaster Children’s Hospital when he was one week old, and many more followed through the years. He began physiotherapy at the hospital’s Children’s Development and Rehabilitation Program (CDRP) as a baby, and continued through to age 19, sometimes with three appointments a week. Today, at age 28, Joel is heading to the Paralympics in London, England to compete in wheelchair tennis, representing Canada. Joel is ranked number one in Canada, and number 32 in the world. “I was taught at a very young age that there were no limitations. The only limitations are the ones you place on yourself,” Joel says in a phone conversation from Toronto, where he now lives, before heading off to a Vancouver competition prior to the Paralympics.

The benign tumour was removed at one week old, but the operation revealed that the tumour’s tentacles had wrapped around Joel’s spine. Another eight-hour operation removed those, but the effects of the tumour had already set in. Joel had very little feeling in his legs. Still, he learned to crawl and, eventually, to walk with the aid of a walker. Together, Joel, his parents, and the therapists in the CDRP program all worked hard to expand Joel’s mobility. Cheryl recalls one day going in to a CDRP appointment with Joel at age five. He was presented with a wheelchair to test out the motion. “That kid started wheeling around like he’d always been in a wheelchair. He took off,” Cheryl says. “Here was a kid that had never known speed. He’d never run. And here he was in this wheelchair zipping up and down the halls. It was amazing.” “For us, his parents, in some ways it was upsetting. But for Joel it was liberating.”

“You have to have the necessary people to enable you with adaptations and services to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Joel and his parents viewed his world as full of possibility, even if it meant finding a different way to do things.

Joel’s mother Cheryl thanked one of those people – a former physiotherapist in the CDRP program in a recent e-mail.

When the Orkney neighbourhood kids were all climbing the trees in their backyard, and Joel looked longingly at the action, someone suggested he be told that there would always be things in life he couldn’t do.

“It was because of people such as yourself who are dedicated to helping a little boy be the best he could be physically that definitely had an impact on who he became, and gave his parents the confidence to always encourage that.” Joel was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton on March 16, 1984, but quickly transferred to McMaster Children’s Hospital with a tumour located where one of his kidneys should have been.

Instead, his father Steven cut up blocks and attached them to the tree. Joel climbed up – and the neighbourhood children used the same blocks to climb. At age 14, Joel, already athletic and big into challenger baseball and sledge hockey, found a – continued on next page

Future CIBC Breast Assessment Centre receives international design award

Designed for comfort: The future CIBC Breast Assessment Centre at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre has been designed from a patient’s perspective with the intent to create a space that encourages women to feel at ease during their visit.

Envisioned as a place that will foster both physical and emotional well-being for women, the future CIBC Breast Assessment Centre at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre boasts such a unique, patient-focused design that it is receiving international accolades. The Centre, designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects, won the International Future Health Design Award at the 8th Design & Health World Congress and Exhibition held last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “The International Future Health Design Award is a huge honor for the architects and the planning team,” says Carol Rand, director of systemic, supportive and regional cancer programs at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. “We knew we wanted to build a centre that is as non–clinical feeling as possible.” Scheduled to open in 2013, the CIBC Breast Assessment Centre will streamline breast cancer screening and diagnosis for women who have a breast abnormality or are at high risk of developing the disease. The Centre, funded through a $5-million fundraising campaign, will be one of the most comprehensive facilities of its type in the region. It will provide support to women of all ages from across south-central Ontario and will be one of the only facilities in Canada to offer genetic testing for those with a family history of breast cancer. Patients referred to the Centre will undergo a complete diagnostic assessment in a single visit, with a final diagnosis and a treatment plan available in just five days. Visitors to the new Breast Assessment Centre, which will occupy the former Juravinski Hospital emergency department, will discover a bright and expansive, yet warm and tranquil space complete with gardens and soothing water features.

Tarek El-Khatib, senior partner with Zeidler Partnership Architects, said the architects first considered the psychology of the patients when creating the design for the Centre, rather than focusing on the structure of the building itself. “We considered what it would be like from the moment the patient walked from the front door of the building, to when they walked into an examination room,” says Tarek. He says the natural elements and reflections of

water should help to soften the experience and lessen feelings of anxiety. “We want women to feel comfortable and know that they are in a centre of excellence where they will receive the best possible care,” says Carol. “Many people have been touched by breast cancer. They want to have this type of facility in their community.” To learn more, visit

Set for success: Joel’s story

– continued from cover

new passion. Denise McArthur, a therapeutic recreationist with the CDRP program, and Frank Peter, a Paralympic athlete and wheelchair tennis coach, joined forces to introduce Hamilton-area kids to wheelchair tennis.

his back to keep it straight, but his dives from the wheelchair to catch or hit a ball has broken those rods on occasion, resulting in many operations over the years. In his last surgery at the Hamilton General Hospital those rods were removed for good.

Cheryl recalls the car ride home, with Joel’s reaction: “I think I found something that clicks.” He never looked back.

“There have been so many appointments, so many doctors, so many specialists and physiotherapists,” Cheryl says. “Sometimes you don’t’ realize the impact you are having on your child and yourself until you’re away from it and looking back.”

“Wheelchair tennis is one of the most athletic sports I could play,” says Joel. “You’re on your own on the court. You take control of the points. It represents the most awesome independence you can have.”

“We leaned on those people.”

But it takes something more to become Canada’s best.

Joel gets much of his strength from his parents and his younger brother Adam, his biggest fan.

“You definitely have to have the drive,” says Joel. “You need to want to work hard, you need to want to work to be where you are.”

For all of them, the focus is now on London. Joel plays his first singles match on Sept. 1 and his first doubles the next day.

Joel’s drive to be the best at whatever athletic endeavor he’s doing hasn’t always resulted in the easiest path. He’s had to have rods inserted into

“Getting to the Paralympics is the pinnacle. You know you’ve reached the top,” says Joel. “It’s the biggest event you could ever dream of.”


House Calls

Innovative program increases breast cancer screening rates among South Asian women

Q: How can spiritual or religious beliefs help some patients cope with serious illness? A: I am reminded everyday when I enter the hospital that to lose one’s physical health and former capacity is a profound loss. For those who are in good health, it is hard to grasp the enormity of loss for some. Yet I bear witness to it everyday. When I make my rounds at the hospital and visit with patients who are seriously ill, I am often brought to a quiet place. A place which suggests that although it may appear otherwise, patients are some of the hardest working people within the hospital. Spirituality grounds people. For some, spirituality is nurtured and expressed within the context of faith and religion. For others, spirituality is reflected through the love of family, gardening, music, art or the wonder of nature. Spirituality has to do with how we make sense of the world. It includes how we connect with ourselves, each other and the world around us. Spirituality supports the inherent value of a person and of life itself. When a patient becomes aware of and then begins to grieve the losses associated with serious illness, their sense of personal value is often diminished. Although this is a normal part of grief, it can cause a period of deep personal suffering. Connecting with one’s spiritual beliefs and practices becomes very important. Grief cannot be shortchanged yet spiritual beliefs ground a patient to their deeper truth and, in time, bring restoration to their sense of personal value. A patient whom I visited recently put it this way: “It’s important to connect to your deeper values so you don’t get caught up on physical changes. I look at my legs now – just bone and skin – while just last fall I played golf and tennis. I have a new physical reality; but it doesn’t change the essence of who I am.” Connecting with others becomes very important for those facing disease or illness. Creating or maintaining interactions and relationships with cherished people in one’s life can be uplifting. This love and support from others may not take away deep personal suffering, but it can ease the pain even if only for short periods. While in hospital, this support person or group could be a family member, a friend, a faith or spiritual community, a nurse, a social worker, a doctor, or a chaplain. At Hamilton Health Sciences, chaplains are available to help guide and support patients of all spiritual and religious traditions through their journey. The chaplain provides emotional support, grief counseling, and coordination of rituals and services. If you or a loved one is in hospital, speak with a member of your healthcare team to arrange a visit with the chaplain on site. House Calls is written by experts at Hamilton Health Sciences. Ann Vander Berg is a chaplain and specialist in the spiritual care program at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.

Connecting directly with immigrant South Asian women in person was essential to the program’s success. In the first six months of the project, Roodaba met with more than 400 South Asian women through educational sessions and displays hosted at community centres, festivals, schools, English as a second language groups, and faith centres. She arranged group screening appointments and complimentary transportation via the OBSP’s shuttle van and, when necessary, accompanied women to the OBSP to provide translation services and cultural support during appointments. Reaching out – Pictured above (centre), Roodaba Alvi, Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) women’s health educator, escorts women to the OBSP to provide cultural support and translation services during their breast screening appointment.

For many immigrant South Asian (SA) women, proactively screening for breast cancer is something that isn’t often considered. There are many cultural beliefs around participating in a test that requires a woman to expose an area of her body that is normally covered, and so the topic is considered taboo. This, in addition to educational barriers and transportation challenges that may prevent SA women from seeking and accessing mammography services. Thanks to an innovative partnership between the Juravinski Cancer Centre, Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), and the City of Hamilton’s Women’s Health Educator program, more SA women are participating in proactive breast cancer screening. The initiative began in April 2011 and set out to increase screening rates among immigrant SA women by targeting three main audiences: SA immigrant women, family physicians who serve the increasing SA population, and staff of the OBSP sites in Hamilton who actually provide the mammograms. The key to the program is Roodaba Alvi, who was seconded to the initiative on a part-time basis. She’s also part of the City of Hamilton’s Women’s Health Educator program, a free service designed to help women who speak little English to access health services and learn how to stay healthy. Roodaba speaks four languages - Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Arabic – and her ability to relate with this population in their native language is essential to the program. As a member of the South Asian community herself, Roodaba is also in tune with the culture and challenges faced by immigrant women. “Many South Asian immigrant women lead isolated lives, “ says Roodaba. “They may be focused on getting a job, housing, schooling for their children or caring for elders. Thinking about their own health or knowing what is available to them isn’t something that they are likely to be concerned about.”

This unique approach to support and outreach is only part of the solution. The program also aims to help healthcare providers understand the unique cultural and educational needs of immigrant South Asian women, so that women have a positive experience and return again in the future for a routine screening appointment. Roodaba and Cindy Mutch Thomson, former regional health promotion coordinator for the OBSP, have been meeting with family physicians, primarily of South Asian descent, to find solutions to help physicians better communicate with and educate their South Asian patients on the importance of proactive screening. It’s widely accepted that the single, best recruitment strategy for cancer screening is for a patient’s family physician to recommend their patient to be screened. Through their efforts, Roodaba and Cindy have helped seven doctor’s practices to send a personalized letter inviting all of their eligible patients to participate in breast screening every two years or as required. Translated materials are also included in the mailing. “The physicians are all very happy we’re doing this work. They have seen significant improvements and increases in breast cancer screening rates among their South Asian women,” says Roodaba. A third significant part of this initiative is to ensure that when the South Asian women attend their screening appointment, they’re cared for by people who understand their cultural sensitivities. Roodaba and Cindy conducted cultural sensitivity training sessions to over 200 healthcare staff at the OBSP and to diagnostic imaging staff in Hamilton, to help them understand the perspective of the SA woman so they can deliver the best care possible. “This initiative is very rewarding because it’s helping to build trust and understanding among the SA women and the healthcare providers, and we’re already seeing an increase in the number of women coming to the OBSP for screening.” says Roodaba. The Juravinski Cancer Centre Foundation provided a $25,000 educational grant to fund this important work that will help improve the health of many immigrant South Asian women.

The Ontario Breast Screening Program The Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) is a program of Cancer Care Ontario. The Juravinski Cancer Centre oversees the OBSP-affiliated clinics in our region. The OBSP provides high-quality mammography services for women 50 years of age and older. Mammograms are free-of-charge for women in Ontario. Breast cancer screening is the regular examination of a woman’s breasts to find breast cancer early. A breast X-ray (mammogram) is the best screening tool. Breast cancer screening saves lives. Between 1989 and 2005, breast cancer mortality rates in Ontario women aged 50–69 decreased by 35 per cent due to improved cancer treatments and increased participation in breast cancer screening. Regular breast cancer screening can find cancer when it is small, which means: • There is a better chance of treating the cancer successfully. • It is less likely to spread. • There may be more treatment options. Women interested in attending the OBSP can call directly to make an appointment. A physician’s referral is not required. Call (905) 389-4411 x 42497 or visit for more information.

Our Family of Hospitals • CHEDOKE • CHILDREN’S • GENERAL • JURAVINSKI • McMASTER • ST. Peter’s

the B imonthly newsletter o f hamilton health sciences

New healing garden at Juravinski Hospital a welcome retreat for patients

Congratulations to the winners of the Winning Wednesdays 50/50 Staff Lottery! Vicky Infantino Juravinski Cancer Centre Pharmacy, Clinical Trials Won $1,458 in the last draw held on Wednesday, August 8.

Patti-Ann Allen Regional Administrator/ Clinical Manager of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, at the Chedoke Hospital site Won $1,467 in the second draw held on July 25. Laura-Lee Walter Adult Congenital Cardiology at McMaster University Medical Centre Won $1,467 in the first draw held on Wednesday, July 11.

Growing a space to heal: The new healing garden at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre (JHCC) opened last month, providing a tranquil outdoor space for patients to relax and enjoy the fresh air. As you step out the door and onto the terrace, purple flowers reach out to greet you. The sun peeks over the top of the building, as a soft breeze rustles through the lush beds of greenery. It’s peaceful - a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of the hospital ward. The new healing garden on the third floor of the Juravinski Hospital is a tranquil space where patients can go to relax, unwind, and - most of all - get better. “It’s breathtaking. To be able to go out and feel the air is just…wow!,” says Karen Bettencourt, a patient on ward B3. “Every day, I would ask the nurses what it’s like outside. Now, I can find out for myself,” says Karen. Denise Cormier, a business clerk on B3, walks by the new garden every day. “It’s really, really well done,” says Denise. “It helps get the patients outside and into the fresh air.” Staff members are also encouraged to use the garden, which offers plenty of seating options, whether you prefer a spot in the sun or the cool shade. Dr. Michele Bertothy, a general practitioner in the oncology department and Chair of the therapeutic arts program, says the space is a nice addition for patients and staff members alike.

“I am so pleased it’s become a reality,” she says. Linda Knight works in the radiation therapy department at the JHCC and echoes the praise for the new addition to the hospital. “This space is absolutely beautiful and serene – a wonderful space for all to heal,” she says. The healing garden was made possible through the support of Ellis Don and the vision and efforts of the capital development department at the Juravinski site. “It’s so special to be able to create a space that provides such opportunity for our patients, public and staff members,” says Cathy Lovett, capital development site lead at the Juravinski. “Since we’ve opened the garden, it’s rarely been empty. It’s definitely a needed and welcome addition to our site.” Cathy says the garden is low maintenance, featuring its own watering system and automatic lighting for the evening hours. The garden is located on Level 3, by Sections A, B and C and is accessible via the north and south hallways. The garden is open daily from 8:00am – 8:00pm.

Thank you to all staff members who have joined the Winning Wednesdays 50/50 Staff Lottery. This year’s lottery is sold out, however those who wish to play can join the 2013 lottery. Tickets will be on sale in the late fall of 2012. You can also add your name to the waiting list for 2012 at www.hamiltonhealth. ca/stafflottery. Any tickets that become available will be offered to individuals on the waiting list in the order they were received. Tickets are $3 each per pay per draw with a maximum of six tickets per employee per draw. Draws are biweekly on the Wednesdays following each pay deposit. The prize value is dependent on the number of people entered. For 2012, a maximum of 980 tickets will be sold each draw. Lottery proceeds will help support patient care initiatives and hospital funding priorities at Hamilton Health Sciences. Lottery Licence #M684663

Register now for the 2012 Hamilton Health Sciences Employee Open!

The Insider is published bi-monthly by Hamilton Health Sciences Public Relations & Communications Department.

Manager Heather Pullen

Editor Calyn Pettit Graphic Design Nadia DiTraglia

WHERE: Century Pines Golf Club 592 Westover Rd., RR#1 Flamborough (Troy) ON, L0R 2B0 WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TIME: Start time: 8:00 a.m. Shotgun start at 9:00 a.m. BBQ lunch: 2:30 p.m.

COST: $75.00. Must pay in advance. Payment will not be accepted on the day of the tournament.

CONTACT: Jackie Webb, Ext. 73901, Brigida Dimitriou, Ext. 76421,

Contributors Agnes Bongers, Glen Cuthbert Peter Foulds, Carly Griffin Tara Lepp, Michelle Sharp Roxanne Torbiak Hamilton Health Sciences McMaster University Medical Centre Room 1K-102, 1200 Main Street West Hamilton, ON L8S 4J9

The next draw will be held on Wednesday, August 22. Winners will be posted on www.hamiltonhealth. ca/stafflottery.

BBQ Lunch and refreshments will be served. Every employee will leave with a special gift. Expect fun games and prizes!


The Insider welcomes comments and suggestions. Contact us at: or (905) 521-2100 ext. 75387. Visit us online at

August 2012 - Insider Newsletter  

Hamilton Health Sciences' bi-monthly newsletter.

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