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Dr. Martin McNamara (left) works with two medical students during a ROMP Week clinical skills lab.

June 13, 2024 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) recently welcomed a group of first and second year medical students for an enriching Rural Ontario Medicine Program (ROMP) Week. The experience provides these future physicians with valuable “hands-on” clinical experiences, and a taste of the great lifestyle within the Georgian Bay community.

ROMP Week is a one-week elective program designed to expose medical students to medical practices beyond academic centres, emphasizing the distinct advantages, opportunities and challenges of rural medicine. This initiative aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of rural medical practice, potentially inspiring students to consider careers in these vital, yet often underserved, areas.

Throughout the week, GBGH organized a series of events and activities that encouraged interaction between the students and GBGH physicians and healthcare providers in the community. These events included:

  • Clinical Shadowing: Students had the opportunity to observe and participate in various clinical settings, including the hospital, to gain hands-on experience and insight into daily medical practices.
  • Community Engagement: Activities were planned to highlight the unique lifestyle offered by our community, helping students appreciate the balance between professional responsibilities and quality of life in a rural setting.
  • Networking Events: Informal gatherings and discussions were held to allow students to connect with GBGH physicians and healthcare providers, facilitating mentorship and professional relationships.

Dr. Vikram Ralhan, chief of staff at GBGH, commented on the success of ROMP Week: “We are thrilled to have hosted such a talented group of future medical professionals. ROMP Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the rewarding career and lifestyle that rural medicine offers. We hope this experience has inspired these students to consider returning to our community as practicing physicians in the future.”

The students left with a broader perspective on rural healthcare and a renewed enthusiasm for their medical careers. Amish Gaur, a first year medical student from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, shared his experience: “ROMP Week at GBGH was an incredible opportunity. The learning environment created by the GBGH physicians was outstanding, allowing us to gain practical insights and hands-on experience in rural medical practice. The support and mentorship we received have truly been inspiring.”

GBGH looks forward to further opportunities to support ROMP Week and similar initiatives that support the case for rural medicine and contribute to developing the next generation of health care providers.

 

 

 

Contact:
Derek Desroches
Communications Specialist
Georgian Bay General Hospital
705-526-1300 ext. 5016
desrochesd@gbgh.on.ca

 



Tim Kastelic – chair, Board of Directors, Georgian Bay General Hospital

 

June 4, 2024 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has reached significant milestones over the past three years which have set up the hospital for a promising future ahead. In addition to adding echocardiograms, a prenatal clinic, full pulmonary function testing, and significantly increasing surgical procedures (up to 170 per cent of pre-COVID levels), the hospital has been approved for its first MRI, with service starting in early 2025.

GBGH has also submitted proposals to bring a comprehensive acute mental health program to an underserviced community. GBGH’s Board of Directors and Management team continue working to advance priorities in line with its strategy of providing excellent, personalized care to the community. Through the plans set in place, GBGH looks forward to even more significant progress in meeting the community’s needs for many years ahead.

“GBGH serves a unique population, including the Indigenous, Francophone, and seasonal communities within our area,” says Tim Kastelic, chair, GBGH Board of Directors. “Additionally, we have a seniors’ population, often with complex health needs, a shortage of family physicians and a high incidence of mental health challenges in comparison to the provincial average. Over the past three years, one of the largest determining factors in planning the hospital’s future is ensuring GBGH can grow its services to address backlogs and long delays while aligning with the anticipated needs of the community.”

Due to population growth and the age of the building (opened in 1976), GBGH has submitted a proposal for a new hospital to be completed in the 2030s. There are significant challenges with a building as old as GBGH, including aging infrastructure requiring constant reinvestment to extend its lifespan and a lack of appropriate physical space to meet the current needs of patients, as well as the significant growth in demand as a result of population aging and individuals moving to the area.

“Patient volumes in the 1970s, when GBGH was designed, were very different than today and they’ll be drastically different over the next two decades,” says Kastelic. “We project the future hospital will need to have more than 240 beds, which is a doubling of our current bed capacity. There are other new services and capital projects being planned that will be transformative for GBGH and the patients served by this excellent hospital, and I look forward to seeing the incredible progress GBGH is poised to make.”

In addition to a future hospital and with a much shorter timeline, GBGH is about to begin construction on an expansion to house the hospital’s first MRI.  It also continues to work actively with partners and the provincial government to advance our proposed acute mental health program that will require a large extension on the existing building.

“A mental health program at GBGH cannot come soon enough for our community and our region,” adds Kastelic. “Over the past four years, GBGH’s Emergency department has seen a 300 per cent increase in mental health-related visits. With a shortage of beds in our region, it is not uncommon for patients to wait more than 100 hours for an appropriate placement to become available.”

Currently, almost half of mental health patients come to GBGH with a concurrent physical diagnosis and require medical stabilization before they can be transferred to a mental health bed. Having acute inpatient mental health beds at GBGH will also assist patients with equitable access to person-centred care as they will be able to receive mental health and medical treatment simultaneously.

The proposed Mental Health expansion and new hospital will also bring approximately 700 new, well-paying jobs to the community, and provide a significant boost to the local economy.

As Kastelic’s three-year term as Board chair comes to a close, he is most encouraged by the team of leaders, staff, professional staff and volunteers, including his colleagues on the Board of Directors, who dedicate their careers, time and expertise to GBGH.

“We would not have been able to accomplish what our hospital has without the support of GBGH’s dedicated team,” says Kastelic. “They are what makes GBGH a special place in which patients can count on an excellent, personalized experience because they are focused on caring for their community of family, friends and neighbours.”

“Another key contributor to our success is the hospital Foundation who are tirelessly committed to fundraising – making our growth plans a reality,” adds Kastelic. “Finally, I’d like to recognize Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop, our local Mayors, indigenous leaders and other elected officials for their ongoing support and advancement of GBGH’s plans for the benefit of the communities they serve.”

The hospital’s Board of Directors is planning a seamless transition as it welcomes a new chair who will be announced after its upcoming June Annual General Meeting. Kastelic will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as past chair for the next three years. GBGH’s annual report will also be available in late June on the hospital’s website – https://gbgh.on.ca/public-reporting/.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



Photo: Parents Laura and Tyler Desroches recently celebrated the birth of their second child, Daisy, who was born at GBGH.

 

May 1, 2024 – Over the past several years, Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has thoughtfully expanded its Birthing program to meet the growing needs of its community, which has included opening both a physician-led Prenatal Clinic, as well as offering enhanced midwifery care through Midland Midwives By the Bay.

While midwives have had privileges at GBGH since 2015, their popularity among obstetrics patients has been steadily increasing, as has the number of midwives practicing at the hospital. Midland Midwives By the Bay has increased from three to 10 providers since 2018, all of whom are dedicated to providing local prenatal, labour/birth and postpartum care at GBGH and in the community. The expertise of the midwives is an asset to the hospital and has helped bring mothers from the community to GBGH to receive their care close to home.

“The demand for our services at the Midland Midwives By the Bay has been steadily increasing, and we are fully committed to growing the local care we offer, whether it be through home births or exclusively at GBGH,” shares Lynne Marie Culliton, lead midwife at GBGH and registered midwife with Midland Midwives By the Bay. “We prioritize collaboration with GBGH nurses and physicians to comprehensively address the needs of expectant people throughout every stage of childbirth. Additionally, we’ve just launched an Indigenous Midwifery Program, offering Indigenous clients the choice to receive care from an Indigenous Midwife. This program also provides access to a variety of culture-based supports throughout their perinatal journey with us.”

Enhancing care beyond midwifery services, in June 2022 GBGH opened a physician-led  Prenatal Clinic to provide high quality, standardized care for pregnant women in North Simcoe. The clinic runs once per week and is available to women – with or without a primary care provider – to ensure all have access to comprehensive prenatal care.

“Local women who were travelling to other areas of the region for prenatal care, can now receive it at their community hospital,” says Dr. Chevy Moreau, chief of Obstetrics and an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN). “Anything we can do to remove some of the unknown or uncertainty when giving birth is a benefit to patients. It’s comforting for mothers to have their prenatal care here so when it’s time to deliver, they’re not stepping into a place they’ve never been before. Having consistent care in a familiar setting from the early stages of pregnancy to delivery contributes to a positive birthing experience.”

Dr. Moreau played a significant role in bringing that clinic to the hospital, in addition to helping with the overall growth of the program since his arrival in Fall 2021. Dr. Moreau also sees patients one day per week through a Gynecology Clinic run in GBGH’s Ambulatory Care department. The Prenatal Clinic and Gynecology Clinic received more than 1,250 patient visits in 2023, making them the second highest volume clinic GBGH offers.

GBGH plans to increase the frequency of both clinics once the hospital recruits a second obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN), which is actively underway.

To familiarize the community and prospective patients with the Birthing Unit and program, GBGH has released two new videos – a Birthing Unit Tour and About the GBGH Birthing Experience. They can be found through the hospital’s website – https://gbgh.on.ca/programs-and-services/obstetrical-unit/ (with French subtitles in the description box below the video).

In 2024, the GBGH Foundation is launching the GBGH Family Tree, where families can recognize a special baby’s birth by making a donation to the growing birthing & obstetrics program at the hospital.  Babies will recognized with their name, birthdate and photo on a dedicated digital screen in the hospital’s main lobby.  More information about the program can be found at https://gbghf.ca/born-at-gbgh/.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



April 25, 2024 – During National Volunteer Week (April 14 – 20, 2024), Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) demonstrated its appreciation for the 100 volunteers who selflessly give their time to help the hospital and its patients. Concluding the week’s events was an Appreciation Lunch during which Volunteer Value Awards were given out to recognize the hospital’s volunteers who make remarkable contributions to the community through their dedication the hospital.

“GBGH has an incredible volunteer force of more than 100 and I couldn’t be more appreciative of every single one of them,” says Rachel Jennings, volunteer and student coordinator, GBGH. “Simply put, GBGH would not be the same without the dedication and compassion of its volunteers. We know from the earlier days of the pandemic what it’s like to not have the volunteers with us at the hospital. More than ever we have a greater understanding and appreciation for the positive impact they bring to GBGH, our patients and our community, and they should be celebrated for it.”

Paulette Antaya, a GBGH volunteer for 17 years, was presented with the Volunteer Value award for Inspire Dedication. During her time at the hospital, Antaya has been an exemplary leader at the main entrance information desk where she offers invaluable support to patients and visitors. She actively promotes volunteering with the hospital, having represented the hospital at volunteer recruitment events within the community.

For nearly a decade, John Sweeney has been an essential member of the GBGH team, earning him the Volunteer Value award for Patients First. Sweeney’s dedication to the hospital has always been evident, but never more important than during the pandemic when he has provided vital assistance restocking PPE and portering patients. His contributions directly prioritize patients as he assumes responsibility for duties that enable our staff to concentrate on the quality of care they provide.

GBGH’s volunteer-based Gift Shop would not be the same without the leadership of Agnes Hemming, which is why she’s been honoured with the Volunteer Value award for Empower Others. With nearly 25 years of service as a GBGH volunteer in the shop, Hemming gladly shares her wealth of knowledge and always demonstrates a positive demeanour with her fellow team members. She is also generous with her time, always being available to offer wise advice and words of encouragement.

Nancy Mosley is a compassionate advocate for positive patient experiences and accessibility related to the hospital’s Captain’s Café coffee bar, making her the recipient of the Volunteer Value award for Lead with Empathy. Mosley connects with customers on a personal level to better understand their needs and continually improve service. She has a natural ability to listen with compassion and respect, and always demonstrates a willingness to go above and beyond for customers.

As part of seeking excellence through continuous improvement and innovation, Julie Quesnelle is the recipient of the Volunteer Value award for Think Forward. Although Quesnelle is a fairly new volunteer within the past 18 months, Quesnelle has demonstrated a forward-thinking approach in the Captain’s Café coffee bar, constantly seeking innovative solutions to enhance the customer experience. Her proactive attitude and commitment to positive change reflect her dedication to GBGH and the people the hospital serves.

In addition to the volunteers who work in the hospital, there are other volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes, including on GBGH’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and the Board of Directors. The hospital acknowledges and thanks these volunteers for all their contributions to helping GBGH achieve its purpose – We Make Excellent Care Personal.

GBGH is continually looking to recruit new volunteers to donate their time in numerous roles throughout the hospital. To learn more and apply online, please visit: https://gbgh.on.ca/join-our-teams/volunteers/.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



April 22, 2024 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH), in consultation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, has officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak over on its 1 North inpatient unit.

The outbreak, originally declared April 8, included 19 patients who contracted COVID-19 while receiving care at the hospital.

During the outbreak only essential visitors were permitted on the unit. Visitation will now return to the regular 24 hours/7 days a week visitation for all visitors to the unit.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca

 



April 8, 2024 – An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared on the 1 North Complex Continuing Care and Rehabilitation unit at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH), in collaboration with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. The outbreak includes 11 patients who contracted COVID-19 while receiving care at the hospital.

Enhanced cleaning and other infection prevention and control measures – including increased testing of patients and staff – are in place. Visitation to the unit is limited to essential caregivers only and the unit is closed to admissions at this time. Universal masking and eye protection is required for anyone entering a unit experiencing an outbreak.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



Dr. Bonnie Shum (right), surgeon and chief of Surgery at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) performs laproscopic surgery in one of the hospital’s two operating rooms. Over the past few years, GBGH has expanded its surgical program by increasing use of its second OR and diversifying the services offered at the hospital to residents within their community.

January 22, 2024 – Recognizing the surgical backlogs created by the pandemic, combined with the need to improve access to surgical care close to home for patients, Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has pursued a deliberate strategy to optimize and grow its surgical program over the past two years. Part of the surgical program’s expansion has included diversifying the procedures the hospital is able to offer, as well as increasing the use of the hospital’s second operating room (OR) by offering it to surgeons from other local hospitals.

Based on this approach, GBGH has increased surgical volumes by between 135 and 170 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Day surgeries have also increased between 30 and 60 per cent (depending on the procedure). Overall, the hospital has grown to provide day surgery to 7 out of 10 local residents with an ongoing desire to continue expanding services, enabling more residents to seek surgery at their local hospital.

“People are surprised to learn of some procedures we can do here at GBGH, and we’ve expanded our services to meet the growing need,” says Dr. Vikram Ralhan, chief of staff, GBGH. “Improved access locally and timely care are top priorities for GBGH as we know over 2,000 patients are leaving our area for procedures we can perform at GBGH. The goal is to have those patients receive their care at our hospital. Not only does it cut down on thousands of hours and kilometres in travel, it reduces wait times, which is a priority for the government. By having their procedure at GBGH, it is also creating capacity at other hospitals with the goal of decreasing wait times for their local patients.”

To reduce wait times, GBGH collaborates with physicians and regional hospital partners to offer its available OR time for surgeons to see more patients. This collaboration has also enabled GBGH to entice specialists to provide care to local patients because the hospital can accommodate their need for OR time.

New to GBGH’s list of surgical services in 2023 was endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which uses a new piece of equipment called the C-Arm to access and repair bile and pancreatic ducts. The C-Arm can also be used in orthopedic and plastic surgeries – both of which now occur regularly in GBGH’s two ORs. Other procedures performed in the surgical and ambulatory care departments include gynecology, urology, ear/nose/throat and cataract surgeries, as well as complex laparoscopic surgeries to treat gastrointestinal conditions.

The hospital recently welcomed a new chief of Surgery in January – Dr. Bonnie Shum – who has practiced general and laparoscopic surgery at GBGH since July 2021. When contemplating whether to join GBGH, the group of dedicated surgeons, the operating room staff, and other support services available (allied health, anesthesia and ambulatory care teams) were all deciding factors.

Since joining GBGH in 2021, Dr. Shum has noticed volumes increasing for both elective and emergency cases, which is attributable to enhanced skill sets among the surgeons, the OR time available to ramp up procedures, and the right equipment to grow specialty services.

“I came to GBGH from a large urban hospital with all the resources you could want in a surgical program,” says Dr. Shum. “When I toured GBGH, I met a compassionate and talented team who could offer so much more than I expected in a rural community hospital. In a rural surgical setting, you must be resourceful and broaden your skill set, but that has been a smooth transition here. With the talented team at GBGH, our surgical program is really well-supported for success.”

As Chief of Surgery, Dr. Shum looks forward to continuing the positive growth initiated by her predecessor in the role – Dr. Paige Churchill. Dr. Churchill remains a surgeon at GBGH and continues in her role as medical quality lead for the hospital. GBGH maintains a core team of five general surgeons with more than 20 specialty surgeons available to perform procedures.

“My goal is to continue identifying specialties which will benefit our community, as well as work on sustaining the incredible progress made to date,” says Dr. Shum. “I’m fortunate to have this opportunity to give back to my community as a physician and a resident. Before moving to the area, I always thought of myself as a city person, but I’m so pleased to have relocated to this community. Not only do we have the incredible Georgian Bay landscape to enjoy, we also have a hospital focused on what’s best for patients, and that means growing services in alignment with community needs.”

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



Photo: Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop joined team members from Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) to celebrate the hospital’s recent Accreditation result of Accredited with Exemplary Standing. This is the highest level achievable during the recent Accreditation process the hospital underwent in November 2023, meeting more than 99 per cent of standards and 100 per cent of required organizational practices.

 

January 16, 2024 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has received the results of its recent survey by Accreditation Canada and has achieved the highest level of recognition – Accredited with Exemplary Standing. During the four-day survey, GBGH was evaluated based on nearly 2,100 standards, of which more than 99 per cent were met, and 30 required organizational practices (ROPs), of which 100 per cent were achieved.

“We continually strive to improve the care we provide our patients at GBGH and participating in Accreditation is one of the many ways we can assess our progress,” says Matthew Lawson, president and CEO, GBGH. “As part of that ongoing commitment to improvement, it is valuable for our team here to have experts evaluate the hospital from the fresh perspective of an outsider to the organization. They may see enhancements to existing services and processes, or could have new ideas to improve GBGH for patients and the team.”

Accreditation is an ongoing process of assessing health and social services organizations against standards of excellence to identify what is going well, in addition to opportunities for improvement. Hospitals across Canada volunteer to be assessed using Accreditation Canada’s standards to enhance quality and safety, reduce risk, increase efficiency and make better use of resources.

During the course of the four-day survey held November 20 – 23, four health care experts from across Canada spent time with GBGH’s frontline teams and leaders to learn about all aspects of the hospital. Their insights will inform plans for the hospital over the next several years.

“As a representative of the community and on behalf of the Board of Directors, I am continually impressed and proud of our hospital,” says Tim Kastelic, chair, GBGH Board of Directors. “GBGH’s performance in this Accreditation process – as measured not only by the scores, but by the surveyors’ feedback – is outstanding. All team members should be congratulated for their efforts and feel so proud of how they’ve directly contributed to this tremendous result, which is representative of GBGH’s patient care every day.”

Particular strengths of GBGH noted during the survey include: the dedication of the staff and professional staff; safety rounds and quality plans which provide a standard approach across the hospital; engagement with patients and family members in planning and decision-making; relationships with community partners; medication safety framework; and the hospital’s falls prevention program.

“GBGH has achieved a remarkable result during its recent Accreditation survey which bolsters my continuing confidence in this hospital and the quality of care they are consistently delivering,” says Jill Dunlop, member of provincial parliament for Simcoe North and minister of Colleges and Universities. “As a member of this community, I feel assured GBGH is invested in providing excellent care with an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement in quality, safety and efficiency.”

Accreditation is a voluntary assessment process conducted by Accreditation Canada – an independent, not-for-profit Canadian organization – which evaluates more than 1,100 Canadian organizations across the entire spectrum of healthcare. During accreditation, all aspects of the organization are assessed based on best practices, to identify what the organization does well and what needs to be improved.

GBGH was last surveyed in 2019 and achieved the result of Accredited with Exemplary Standing for meeting 98 per cent of standards and 100 per cent of ROPs.

The full report can be found on the hospital’s website – https://gbgh.on.ca/gbghmedia/2023-GBGH-Final-Accreditation-Report.pdf
Accreditation Canada delivers a wide range of high-impact assessment programs for health and social services organizations. Accreditation Canada works with more than 900 expert peer surveyors with extensive health care and social services experience and trained in its customized, continuous assessment program. For more information on Accreditation Canada, visit – https://accreditation.ca/

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



January 3, 2024 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has launched the Housing for Healthcare website to connect staff and prospective staff with potential housing opportunities in the community. Understanding the rental housing market can be a challenge locally and a deterrent to recruitment, GBGH’s Human Resources team created this online housing resource. The hospital is continually seeking new and innovative ways to encourage potential recruits to join its team of talented people.

In line with the hospital’s goal of having talented team members providing the highest quality of care, assisting with access to housing opportunities for potential and current employees has become increasingly crucial.

“This community is an incredible one in which to live for many reasons, including the recreational opportunities available,” says Angela Wiggins, vice president, People & Culture and chief human resources officer, GBGH. “We want GBGH team members to have work-life balance so they can enjoy all the area has to offer, but it’s hard to do that without a local home. If rental housing is a barrier to highly-skilled staff selecting our hospital for their career, then we want to do what we can to remove that obstacle. Our aim is not only to fulfil this essential need, but also to attract and retain top talent as part of our team providing excellent care.”

Through Housing for Healthcare GBGH has created an online housing marketplace, providing property owners with forum to post info and photos about their rental housing. GBGH Human Resources will direct potential hires to this resource if housing is identified as a deciding factor in recruitment. The available listings can also be viewed by any candidates considering GBGH online.

The hospital already has community members reaching out about the availability of their rental property for staff or physicians, so it was a logical step to build an official online marketplace.

“I have been working with GBGH for two years now, providing a fully furnished suite for locum physicians looking for short-term accommodation,” says Anne Croteau, property owner. “Our house is located within an easy 5-minute walk to the hospital, making it ideal for those on-call days. We have received so much positive feedback from physicians who are very grateful for a close and comfortable stay while providing so much support and care to our community. We are thankful for the opportunity to do our part in providing a warm and welcoming touchdown space.”

Community engagement and support in this initiative are pivotal to its success. To register a property with GBGH’s Housing for Healthcare site, please visit – https://gbgh.on.ca/housing-for-healthcare/

 

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca