2022’s clinical-care providers and innovators honoured

News / General
By Meaghan Quinn

Medical Staff Awards honour staff whose achievements stand out and are note-worthy

Every year, Kingston Health Sciences Centre's (KHSC) Medical Staff Association (MSA) recognizes the leaders and dedicated clinical-care providers whose achievements stand out and are noteworthy. In addition to the yearly awards granted to an Outstanding Clinician and a Clinician Innovator, this year two new awards have been added - Outstanding Allied Health Care Colleague of the Year and Outstanding Nursing Colleague of the Year.  

Below, we introduce you to the 2022 award winners and nominees. Please join us in thanking them for their continued outstanding contributions to KHSC’s medical community and patients.

Outstanding Clinician

Dr. Alina Marin, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Marin’s work helps to ensure that patients who require specialized mental health support receive it in a timely manner and appropriate setting. Under her leadership, the urgent psychiatric services and short-term psycho-social interventions blend into an urgent psychiatry and psychotherapy stream that offers care to patients referred for mental health services from the Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre, as well as the acute Inpatient Psychiatry Unit.

This urgent stream includes the Intensive Transitional Treatment Program (ITTP), a robust group-based intervention over four to six weeks that operates along with the Emergency Psychiatry, Assessment, Treatment, & Health (EmPATH) that is an urgent psychiatry consult clinic. The ITTP program's focus is to support people in their recovery, help them develop coping skills, and take responsibility for their mental health and well-being. Limited individual support is also provided during the program. ITTP clinical programming is being continuously improved by Dr. Marin, as well as the multidisciplinary team, which includes a social worker, occupational therapist, intake nurses, and administrative support. EmPATH was created in 2020, in response to the increasing needs for psychiatric care during the COVID-19 pandemic and is offering short-term psychiatric care.

In 2021, over 1000 patients were referred to the Urgent Psychiatry Stream. The volume of referrals has continued to grow with an average of more than 100 referrals received every month. Data gathered on the impact of this new Urgent Psychiatry Stream has shown a significant positive impact on patients' clinical stability, contributing to reducing the number of hospitalizations and emergency visits. This stream has also helped to improve patient flow in the Emergency Department as many patients can be referred directly without the need to wait to see a psychiatrist for a consult.

 

Outstanding Clinician Innovator

Dr. Wael Abuzeid, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology

Dr. Abuzeid spearheaded the implementation of a structural mitral valve repair program to bring care to our patients closer to home. Prior to Dr. Abuzeid’s visionary establishment of the program patients had to travel to Ottawa or Toronto to undergo the work up and receive these interventions, which created a lot of stress and undue concern to our patients. 

A structural mitral valve procedure aims to repair a faulty heart valve for patients that are generally too fragile or frail for open heart surgery. If the mitral valve doesn’t close properly, blood flows backwards through the chambers of the heart. In the short-term patients will experience shortness of breath and less energy. Left untreated the condition could become fatal.

Using this new procedure, multidisciplinary surgical teams comprised of Interventional Cardiology, Cardiac surgery, Cardiac Anesthesia and echocardiography are now able to make a small incision (2-3 millimeters) in the patient’s leg. Using state-of-the-art imaging tools, surgeons are able to guide a catheter up into the patient’s heart and deploy a clip which acts as a staple, to pin a portion of the valve closed, significantly reducing the backwards blood flow.

This program required out of the box thinking to secure funding, build capacity and grow a team to support this initiative. Currently, this new program serves over 15 patients a year.

 

Outstanding Allied Health Colleague (new category)

Hailey Simpson, Ophthalmology

 As a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist, Hailey Simpson is known for excelling in her role and consistently providing exceptional patient care through her demonstrated knowledge, leadership skills and determination. In her role she has led and participated in numerous quality initiatives such as staffing model reviews, clinic utilization reviews, and instituting a department specific orientation for new residents.

In addition to the Charge Technologist role, Hailey also assumed responsibility as Co-Director of the Kingston Ophthalmology Training Centre (KOTC), which is one of only three training programs in the country.  Through the exceptional co-leadership provided, the KOTC program has flourished and achieved Accreditation status. The school consistently recruits outstanding applicants for training, year after year, providing the KHSC Ophthalmology program with the first opportunity to employ top trained technicians/technologists within our hospital that we otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

 

Outstanding Nursing Colleague (new category)

Pamela Branscombe, Jennie Phillips, Crystal McQuillan

The dynamic team of Pamela Branscombe (Charge Nurse, Davies 3), Jennie Phillips (Charge Nurse, Kidd 3) and Crystal McQuillan (Charge Nurse, CSU) are the single biggest reason that the Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery programs are able to keep functioning as high turnover, high-acuity programs.

Over the last several years, Pam, Jennie and Crystal have always stepped up to ensure patients are looked after and that work flow on the floors of Cardiac Services Unit (CSU) and cardiology/cardiac surgery ward run smoothly and flawlessly. During the last two years of COVID pandemic, the hospital faced interruptions and staff shortages, but Pam, Jennie and Crystal always ensured patient care would not be compromised and that they continued to look after everyone's needs. They are role models for patient care and patient advocacy to the nurses that they supervise by setting a tone of excellence to be strived for.

The most amazing qualities that they exhibit are their relentless dedication to their jobs and that they always help to maintain a positive morale among the team members, despite managing many endless problems that they always address with a smile on their face. Without their dedication and their positive attitudes, the CSU and cardiology/cardiac surgery wards would not be the same. They are the linchpins of collaboration with support services and are the people who make inpatient care happen in the Cardiac program.

 

Outstanding Clinician nominees

  • Dr. Al Jin has helped build KHSC's Acute Stroke Program and it continues to provide timely and comprehensive care to our community. Dr. Jin's attention to detail and perseverance has helped to ensure that KHSC has the fastest thrombolysis door-to needle time in the province, a distinction that KHSC has held for the past several years. This means that stroke patients who enter the Emergency Department (ED) receive all necessary care supports and examinations to receive thrombolysis – a critical step where doctors carefully assess the cause of blood clots and then recommend the right medication or procedure to correct clotting problems - within a mere 28 minutes.  KHSC is one of only two Ontario stroke units to receive the designation of Distinction in Acute Stroke Services from Accreditation Canada. Dr. Jin has helped educate Emergency Medicine Services staff in the community to pre-notify the Stroke team when an acute stroke is arriving, he is committed to training ED nurses, developing and running a Stroke School for residents, and advocating for other stroke centres in southeastern Ontario. Dr. Jin has helped KHSC to deliver outstanding stroke care for the people in our community.
  • Dr. Lawrence Hookey is being recognized for not only the many professional accomplishments he has achieved as Department Head, Gasteroenterology Residency Training Program Director and Endoscopy lead but also as a highly valued and much appreciated colleague. He is an active and contributing member both to KHSC and Queens University and has participated in administrative, education and research initiatives. His nominees are quick to note that Dr. Hookey is considerate and respectful of others, responds to requests for help or advice, makes time for colleagues, and listens to concerns with due consideration. He is supportive of others and never dismissive. He demonstrates the attributes of the best of the medical profession and is a wonderful example of true collegiality. 

Outstanding Clinician Innovator nominees

  • Dr. Andres Enriquez has helped to successfully develop a program that helps patients receive a critical heart procedure without the use of x-rays, known as zero fluoroscopy catheter ablation. Typically, when a patient has a heart rhythm problem they undergo a procedure known as catheter ablation. This procedure involves guiding a catheter to the heart that destroys small areas of tissue that may be causing the abnormal heart beat.  To help guide this catheter x-rays are continuously taken during the procedure, the risk being that the patient and health care staff are exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation as part of the imaging. As a result of the work of Dr. Enriquez, most patients can now undergo the ablation procedure without the need of x-rays during the procedure. This has been made possible through his use of electroanatomic mapping and intracardiac echocardiography, completely eliminating the need for x-rays.  This has also allowed to eliminate the use of lead aprons for procedures that sometimes take several hours.
  • Dr. Ynoe de Moraes is nominated for his outstanding leadership role in those domains of clinical innovation for his work on Stereotactic Body Radiation Treatment (SBRT) spine program, virtual care innovation task force oncology and Artificial Intelligence application in oncology
  • Dr. Steven Brooks is nominated for his leadership for a project on community defibrillation. This work is going to change the way we understand the possibilities of surviving a cardiac arrest by making automated external defibrillator (AED’s) significantly more accessible outside hospital walls. His work is helping to create an AED that is similar to the size of a notebook that operates with an app that can be easily accessed on a smartphone and priced less than current market options. This device is already in use in Australia, UK and it is awaiting Health Canada and FDA approval.
  • Dr. Kerstin de Wit has been a driving force behind the opening of the new Thrombosis Clinic, located at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site. This specialty clinic provides comprehensive assessment and management for patients with blood clots. Since opening, this clinic has already reduced wait times for patients from up to three years to less than 14 days despite a doubling of referrals received. As part of this clinic Dr. de Wit has created a new process for patients who present to the Emergency Department with thromboses now leave with an appointment to be seen within a few days at the Thrombosis out-patient clinic. Here, each individual benefits from counselling on aspects they may not have picked up on at diagnosis, including guidance on how to take their medicine and expert discussion on optimal duration and drug choice. As part of the overall vision for this clinic, its staffing now includes a pharmacist on a pilot basis with a view to generating the data to support this position for the long-term. Future plans for this clinic include incorporating social workers and dedicated nursing support and developing a new patient support group.

Outstanding Nursing Colleague nominees

  • Melanie Foisy is the Nurse Coordinator of the Cardiac Rhythm Device Clinic (CRDC), a busy clinic that serves around 10-12,000 people in our region. In this role she coordinates the work of seven nurses and is the liaison between the Arrhythmia Service with Radiation, MRI and Cardiovascular Surgery teams. She has redeveloped all forms that help physicians of any specialty to deal with patients with cardiac devices. These forms have been so impactful that she has presented nationally and internationally to show how they facilitate communications with different areas of the hospital, providing excellent care for patients with cardiac devices. In addition, she coordinated with the MRI team and radiology service to implement national guidelines for the MRI scanning of patients with cardiac devices.  Melanie is also the lead for the innovative ""4D Project": Deactivation of ICDs at Distance for the Dignity of Dying". As part of this project, she has completed a pilot of six patients that experienced deactivation of their devices using a remote system. This means that these patients did not have to travel to KHSC for deactivation and instead had their devices turned off while they remained at home. Melanie leads all aspects of this project that may change practice around the province, country, and one day, also overseas. 

Outstanding Allied Health Colleague nominees

  • As the Health System Navigator for the Vision Rehabilitation Clinic, Julia Foster is known to both her colleagues and patients for her exemplary patient care, routinely going above and beyond the call of duty. In this role Julia has helped to grow the emerging clinic into an established multidisciplinary clinic, integrated within the larger regional healthcare community. She has taken the initiative to develop a vision rehabilitation curriculum for the Occupational Therapy students and has delivered multiple lectures, workshops, and supervised clinical placements over the years. Julia is also heavily involved in cross-institutional research involving community members with vision loss and routinely applying for grants, supervising research and community development placements, and sharing research findings in peer-reviewed journals and within the community. As her nominees note, she is driven, highly professional, ethical, entrusted with significant responsibility, consistently exceeds expectations, and is the linchpin of a diverse academic and clinical practice.
  • Helen Driver has been serving as an excellent leader of the KHSC Sleep laboratory as well as the KHSC Epilepsy monitoring unit and EEG lab, along with wearing multiple hats seamlessly, over the years. She is a capable administrator, a brilliant sleep specialist and researcher and a dependable colleague to all members of the Neurology (especially epilepsy) and Respirology divisions. Her enthusiasm and energy, directed constantly towards advancing the Epilepsy and sleep programs at KHSC is exemplary.