manikin onto stretcher
In the first of two exercises held this week in newly-erected tents outside UHN’s two Emergency Departments, staff at Toronto Western Hospital load a manikin simulating a cardiac arrest onto a stretcher. (Photo: UHN)

UHN ED teams use simulation exercises to ready 'for whatever might come our way'

The manikin cooperated even if the weather did not.

Twice this week – first at Toronto Western, then at Toronto General – members of the UHN Emergency Medicine team, Security and other allied health colleagues gathered in newly-erected tents amidst blustery, winter-like conditions to practice responding to simulated situations of patients in crisis.

"It's about working through just-in-case situations to make it a safer environment for everyone," Dr. Alia Dharamsi, a Staff Emergency Physician and Lead, UHN ED In Situ Simulation, said following the TWH session. "We try to find all of the safety threats we can, and then work together to eliminate them."

The tents were erected outside both hospitals last week in response to a deepening Wave Three of the pandemic. The plan is to use them if ED waiting rooms get too crowded to allow physical distancing. But that means teams need to be able to respond to patients in distress in the same way they do inside.

This week, they practised two scenarios. In the first, a standardized patient portrayed a man experiencing a mental health crisis in a Code White, which brought out nurses, doctors, Security personnel and members of the Psychiatric Emergency Services Unit. The second saw response to a simulated cardiac arrest.

In the coming days, the hope is to run through more simulations involving different scenarios at the two sites. Last year, just prior to the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, similar sessions were done to prepare for possible resuscitations of patients in the EDs.

"We try to engage as many different minds as possible," Dr. Dharamsi says. "So, what we do is plan this on paper first, then see it come alive to help us feel we're ready for whatever might come our way."

Breathing new life into the SDU garden

women posing at garden
Recreation therapists, Willamina Sit, (L), and Mary Anne Garcia, start to prepare the patient garden on Toronto Rehab’s Specialized Demenia Unit with flowers and plants donated from the community. (Photo: UHN)

Thanks to the power of social media, the patient garden on Toronto Rehab's Specialized Dementia Unit (SDU) is on its way into full bloom.

When a neighbour of occupational therapist Amy Cockburn posted a call-out on a Facebook gardening group asking for donations for the SDU garden, members were immediately supportive.

From tulips and daffodils, to hydrangeas and carnations, patients will be able to water and tend to the garden as part of their therapy. Some members even offered financial donations, which will gratefully be put to good use.

"I'm envisioning a climbing vine that would grow over our pergola, to provide shade on those hot summer days," says Amy.

Donations to the SDU garden reflect the compassion and commitment of our greater community at a time where their generosity has never been felt so acutely.

"The garden represents a chance for patients to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, after a long winter of having to spend so much of their time inside," Amy says. "We can't wait to start enjoying this space again."

Micro-credentials in the applied health sciences: quality is key to success

Micro credentials
A report by The Michener Institute of Education at UHN points out that in the absence of a framework that sets out quality control measures and standards, employers can’t reasonably assess the value or meaning of the micro-credential awarded. (Photo: freepik)

At the end of 2020, the Ontario Online Learning Consortium via eCampusOntario contracted with The Michener Institute of Education at UHN's School of Applied Health Sciences to consider issues, challenges and design of a useful micro-credential framework in the applied health sciences.

The report, Micro-credentials in the Applied Health Sciences: A Cautionary Tale about Quality, points out that in the absence of a framework that sets out quality control measures and standards, employers can't reasonably assess the value or meaning of the micro-credential awarded.

It goes on to make eight key recommendations aimed at addressing this and other challenges specific to how micro-credentials are developed and offered in the applied health sciences across Canada, how they align with regulatory and licensing bodies for those professions, and how they can better serve unregulated professions such as personal support workers.

"We know that a micro-credential framework for the applied health sciences has value to the health system, but the absence of proper assessment processes undermines the trust the health system and higher education has in those micro-credentials," says Lori Peppler-Beechey, co-author of the report and Chair of Michener's critical care programs.

"Working with eCampusOntario, we hope to standardize how micro-credentials are defined and awarded in a way that adds confidence within our health system, but also builds education pathways for learners who want to build their careers in healthcare."

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