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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



Photo: Georgian Bay General Hospital team members gathered to celebrate the completion of the x-ray room renovations in one of the hospital’s two rooms. From left: Linda Gravel, vice president, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive; Allison Cramp, team lead, Diagnostic Imaging; Victoria Ansell, medical radiation technologist; Dr. Nick Lougheed, chief of Diagnostic Imaging; Erin Kominek, manager of Diagnostic Imaging; Karen Redpath, director of Clinical Services; Matthew Lawson, president and CEO; and Aly Wang, project manager.

December 19, 2023 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) has just completed a major renovation project within its Diagnostic Imaging department to update two x-ray rooms and install the latest technology. The renovation, which began in late September, was necessary to replace previous x-ray equipment which was near end-of-life and could not keep up with the current workload done by the GBGH’s imaging team. Last year, GBGH completed over 37,000 X-rays.

This renovation and the new equipment were possible due to funds provided to the hospital by the GBGH Foundation and the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance, which supports area hospitals and the care they provide close to home for the communities they serve.

“The complete replacement of both x-ray rooms at GBGH means we are able to better meet the increasing demand for x-rays based on population growth and a large proportion of seniors in our area,” says Erin Kominek, manager, Diagnostic Imaging, Cardiorespiratory and Laboratory, GBGH. “The new x-ray machines provide clearer images, and are more reliable to keep up with the high volume of x-rays we perform every day at GBGH on a walk-in basis, as well as in emergency scenarios.”

The renovations to the two x-ray rooms were completed one at a time over the fall, with one room always in operation to continue meeting patient needs.

“Investing in new technology to improve patient experiences and outcomes is a strategic priority for our hospital,” says Matthew Lawson, president and CEO, GBGH. “The new x-ray rooms are an essential part of providing the latest technology to support team members in performing their work and improving our services in alignment with current and anticipated needs of our community.”

Over the next several years, GBGH is further enhancing the Diagnostic Imaging program by adding Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services. The hospital anticipates launching this service in early 2025, pending final approvals and construction of a 2,500 square foot addition to the existing Diagnostic Imaging department.

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations

Georgian Bay General Hospital

705-526-1300 ext. 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



November 27, 2023 – 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 November 15, included nine patients who contracted COVID-19 while receiving care at the hospital.

During the outbreak only essential visitors were permitted on the unit. Now, 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 & Stakeholder Relations
Georgian Bay General Hospital
705-526-1300 ext. 5177
moorejen@gbgh.on.ca



November 21, 2023 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH), in consultation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, has officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak over on its 2 East inpatient unit.

The outbreak, originally declared November 15, included six patients who contracted COVID-19 while receiving care at the hospital.

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



November 20, 2023 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH), in consultation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, has officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak over on its 2 North inpatient unit.

The outbreak, originally declared October 31, included 10 patients who contracted COVID-19 while receiving care at the hospital.

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



November 13, 2023 – 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 five 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



Adding magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) requires an addition to be built on the existing Diagnostic Imaging department. Renderings of the expansion demonstrate how the new portion will seamlessly coordinate with the front of the current building.

 

October 18, 2023 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) is several steps closer to bringing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services to the hospital, expanding access to these important diagnostic procedures for the community. The hospital recently received approval for stages 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 of its MRI plan. Later this month, GBGH will submit  stages 2.1 and 2.2  together to the Ministry of Health in an effort to expedite the approval process and begin construction sooner on an addition to the existing hospital which will house the future MRI.

The 2,500 square foot expansion has been designed to seamlessly fit within the front of the hospital’s existing façade, sharing architectural elements with the Emergency department which was redeveloped in 2018, and original main entrance. GBGH aims to begin construction on the expansion during the first half of 2024.

“GBGH’s building was constructed in 1976, long before it was determined an MRI would ever be available in Midland,” says Matthew Lawson, president and CEO, GBGH. “We don’t have the physical space to accommodate the MRI in our existing Diagnostic Imaging department so after careful consideration of what is the lowest cost option with the fastest construction timelines, the decision was made to build an expansion. We have been proactively working with architects and engineers so we are ready to begin construction as soon as possible. We know the process of adding a new service of this scale and scope takes time, but MRI services are much-needed in our community. We don’t want to delay access for our patients now that we’re well into the approval process.”

In addition to the hospital planning ahead for construction by conducting geo-technical drilling to determine the foundational supports needed for the building, and finalizing detailed architectural and mechanical plans, training for the new equipment has also begun. GBGH is already preparing staffing to be ready for MRI operations. The hospital has hired a medical radiation technologist qualified in MRI and has an existing staff member already undergoing comprehensive education to operate the MRI. Ideally, GBGH hopes to perform its first scan in the first quarter of 2025, which would make it approximately two years from approval to being operational.

GBGH initially applied for an MRI in 2022 as part of the hospital’s ongoing strategy to grow its services in alignment with community needs. In February 2023, representatives from the provincial government visited GBGH to announce the hospital will receive $800,000 in annual operating funding. This enables GBGH to run the MRI for 2,000 hours per year – or eight hours per day, five days a week – which will meet the needs of an estimated 2,000 local patients. Given the increasing demand for these services, GBGH estimates it could eventually double the number of hours it is running.

GBGH’s future MRI will not only serve the hospital’s immediate community, it will assist in adding capacity to the system which reduces wait times across the region. The addition of an MRI in the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging department will reduce wait times as area residents can be seen in Midland, making more appointments available at local hospitals for patients located in neighbouring communities.

Since receiving initial approval for these services at GBGH, the hospital Foundation has been fundraising to purchase the equipment and help fund construction for the MRI. With a goal of raising $4 million, the Foundation has already been successful in nearly reaching the half-way point of $2 million. This has been possible through generous support from community contributions and the recent Power of Giving Gala which raised $654,000 for the MRI.

“The feedback from our community has been absolutely amazing,” says Katie Houston, chair, GBGH Foundation Board of Directors. “So many people have been impacted by MRI technology, and truly understand the value of bringing this service to GBGH. We have had such incredible support from individuals, businesses, community groups and organizations, and we are excited to see the construction get underway.”

 

Contact:

Jennifer Moore

Director, Communications & Community Relations, GBGH

705-526-1300 ext 5177

moorejen@gbgh.on.ca