A team led by (L to R) Maria Tassone, Karen Chaiton and Mohammad Salhia from The Michener Institute of Education at UHN, has won the 2021 Ted Freedman Award for Innovation in Education in recognition of their COVID Care Learning program.

A team led by Maria Tassone, Karen Chaiton and Mohammad Salhia from The Michener Institute of Education at UHN and University Health Network, has won the 2021 Ted Freedman Award for Innovation in Education in recognition of the program: www.COVIDCareLearning.ca. In 2000, Longwoods Publishing created the Ted Freedman Award for Innovation in Education to recognize those people who inspire, advocate and enable education in healthcare.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a number of operational and human resource challenges, pushing health, long-term and community care organizations to the limits of their capacities in the face of an unprecedented global public health crisis. Given the challenges of the varied and diverse impact of the new coronavirus, and the daily and ongoing learning about the nature of COVID-19, it was clear that thousands of health providers across the province needed quick, meaningful and accessible education.

To make this happen, the team worked with more than 60 collaborators from across Toronto's healthcare and health education communities to create an online education package that bridges knowledge from one's current practice to the requirements to care for those impacted by COVID-19 in acute, long-term and community care.

Tracey DasGupta, Director of Interprofessional Practice at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, first heard about the platform when the development team reached out to Sunnybrook to ask them to participate in the consultation process to determine what types of tools and resources needed to be on the platform.

"I think that was amazing because it gave us an opportunity to think together about what the platform should be and what organizations could contribute to creating this," Tracey says. "The collaborative approach supported the development of not only an innovative but really an integrated tool that is now used across the whole healthcare system."

When staff at Sunnybrook began to be redeployed to areas needing support, the platform became an essential ingredient that enabled the hospital to quickly train and prepare healthcare providers for their new roles. In the following months, as more information about caring for COVID-19 patients was discovered, the platform continued to grow and stay up-to-date with the most relevant information.

"This platform has become essential to our hospital learning," says Tracey. "There is nothing else out there like this that brings not only the resources together, but enables you to add to it and contribute as we continue to learn."

The Respiratory Therapy Program at Michener began incorporating the platform into its summer simulation semester in 2020. With the hasty transition to online learning, the nature of the online platform allowed students to review information before arriving onsite to practice their skills in-person.

"There were a number of resources that proved to be helpful when the students were preparing to head into their clinical year," says Lori Peppler-Beechey, Chair of Critical Care at Michener. "Some of the most important resources for them were the personal protective equipment and infection control modules, as well as the respiratory therapy modules, which examined different ventilation strategies for COVID patients."

Today, COVIDcarelearning.ca supports more than 16,000 users and encompasses emergent learning needed for vaccination and long-haul COVID. The development team looks forward to evolving the platform as an enduring pandemic resource in healthcare.

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