Kingston General Hospital has a long and proud history that stretches back almost 180 years, but this past year was certainly a special one.
During the 2016-17 fiscal year, our Board of Directors sat down with our partners at Hotel Dieu Hospital to discuss what more we could do together to provide the best health care possible to the people of Kingston and our region.
We decided to take the bold and transformative step of fully integrating our two hospitals. We shared this exciting news with the community in June and then the complex behind-the- scenes work got going.
We talked about how many of our clinical services and other operations already spanned both sites and how together we could do more to make the most of our resources, and even attract new talent and funding to our region.
We decided to take the bold and transformative step of fully integrating our two hospitals. We shared this exciting news with the community in June and then the complex behind-the- scenes work got going.
Our aim was to create a new Kingston Health Sciences Centre by April 1, 2017. It was a tight deadline and we couldn’t be more proud of the many people at both hospitals who came together to tackle all of the legal, financial, operational and other complex work necessary for the integration to move forward.
To our knowledge this is the first time a Catholic hospital and a secular hospital have voluntarily decided to join together and committed to maintaining their faith-based and secular missions and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Health was watching our progress closely. With his enthusiastic approval, our new organization is now in place and ready to help lead a new era of health-care innovation in Kingston and across our region.
Along with all this integration work, this past year we were also focused on delivering on our aim of delivering Outstanding Care, Always to all of our patients and families.
Over the course of the year, we found smart new ways to eliminate delays for our patients as they moved into, through and from our hospital. We also invested in new technology and equipment for our clinical teams, put in place some ground breaking new treatments for patients, and launched construction of our new clinical research space. Planning also picked up momentum for our important Phase 2 redevelopment project that will bring us many modernized spaces, with shovels possibly in the ground as early as 2020.
Once again, we achieved all of this while balancing our budget and keeping our strategic and Quality Improvement Plan targets on track or moving in the right direction.
We invite you to learn more about these highlights in the sections below. Each features a photography slide show you can flip through to see what we accomplished and also what we are looking to do next as a fully integrated Kingston Health Sciences Centre. We look forward to this exciting new journey we have begun and are confident our patients, families and the community will benefit from our decision to join together for generations to come.
Creating the new Kingston Health Sciences Centre
KGH and Hotel Dieu Hospital may have distinct histories and cultures, but one thing the people of both hospitals have always shared is a commitment to serve patients and families by providing them with the best care possible.
Over the years, it is this shared purpose that has seen our two organizations develop distinct roles in our regional health-care system. KGH is the region’s largest complex-acute and specialty care hospital while Hotel Dieu Hospital is the leading acute-ambulatory care centre. By working together, we were able to create a system that made good use our precious resources and also made the most sense for our patients and many stakeholders.
But given the challenges of our current health-care system, where new funding is often hard to come by and the demands for our services keep growing, the time was right for both organizations to take our partnership to the next level – by integrating and creating a new Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
From the start, we knew this new organization needed to have one Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Team, along with one budget and corporate strategy. It also had to honour the unique missions and cultures of both sites.
With these requirements in mind, the real work began of designing our new organization. To make sure we were taking everything into account, we reached out to people both inside and outside of our hospitals to find out what they wanted to see come to life in a new Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
After months of integration discussions by our two boards, it was over to KGH Board Chair George Thomson and HDH Board Chair Michael Hickey to share the big news at a media conference downtown on June 28, 2016.
News of our pending integration was top of mind for staff, physicians and volunteers at both hospitals and shortly after the public announcement, communications were put in place to update everyone and to answer as many questions as possible. For starters, Interim CEO Jim Flett and HDH CEO David Pichora held a series of Town Halls for staff, while teams across the hospital were set up to have integration input discussions during their regular meetings.
To ensure we were designing a KHSC that everyone could be proud of, we also wanted to hear more from people in the community about our integration plans. We held a telephone survey to gather opinions from 1,000 people in Kingston and across the entire region. People were also invited to fill out an online version. The survey revealed people strongly supported our integration and also understood the top reasons behind it.
As part of integration, people at both hospitals were going to be asked to work together in new ways. To help prepare everyone for these types of changes, a special Change Day was held where leaders from both organizations came together to learn a common change management approach to help create a smooth transition to the new KHSC.
KGH and HDH aren’t the first two hospitals to integrate their operations. To help us navigate the process, we invited an expert panel of advisors to visit Kingston to share their knowledge and experiences with us. One of the key things we learned was the importance of keeping our existing hospital site names so patient and families know where to go for the care they need.
After a careful review of our integration submission, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins wrote to approve our plans and also to congratulate us for the leadership we are showing and the big contribution we are making to health system integration and transformation.
Along with getting all the behind-the- scenes legal work done, another priority was choosing a name for our new organization. Once again, we held a survey for people inside and outside the hospital to contribute their opinions. As a result of this process, we were able to decide on Kingston Health Sciences Centre as our new legal name. The next step will be to revisit our public-facing brand name as we develop the vision, mission and longer-term strategy that it will represent.
After all the legal documents were signed, sealed and delivered it was time for a special event to mark the official creation of Kingston Health Sciences Centre. Staff and patient experience advisors from both hospitals met in City Park to celebrate and unveil a commemorative plaque to go with a tree that would be planted later in the spring.
Transforming the patient and family experience
For the past seven years, KGH has been guided by our aim of Outstanding Care, Always and our mission as a community of people dedicated to transforming the patient and family experience through innovative and collaborative approaches to care, knowledge and leadership.
This past year, with the help of our patients and families, we set out to identify and tackle new challenges and to make key improvements to the quality, safety and service aspects of the care we deliver.
High-quality health care often requires big investments in the latest equipment and technology. This past year, KGH became the first hospital in North America to use a new heart mapping system that allows cardiologists to perform incredibly precise cardiac ablations. In another pioneering move, KGH also became the first hospital in Canada, outside of a clinical trial, to purchase and use technology that locates tiny bladder cancer tumours in patients.
Busy and at times crowded Emergency Departments are often the norm in our province. At KGH, we are now trying something new to help reduce wait times in our ED. We converted part of our waiting room area into a space where patients who arrive with non-urgent care needs, such as fever, earaches, coughs, colds and sprains, can be treated and discharged quickly.
With the support of our generous and dedicated KGH Auxiliary members, we were able to purchase a new system to support patients in need of brain or spine operations. The Auxiliary donated $350,000 towards the new neuro-navigation system that features a powerful computer system with sensors and cameras that can create a 3D mirror image of the patient’s anatomy to support incredibly precise procedures.
Another challenge in Ontario hospitals is the number of patients who are designated as needing an Alternate Level of Care (ALC). Typically, these patients no longer need to be in an acute-care hospital, but are here waiting for a chance to move to a more appropriate care setting, such as a long-term care home, retirement home or a rehabilitation facility. To support their transition out of KGH, we received funding for a Home First Specialist to provide education and support teams in exploring all of the discharge options with patients and their families so that they can hopefully return home while waiting to move to their next destination. So far, this program is having a positive impact with many more ALC patients moving from our hospital to home with support or other facilities.
Treating someone who is experiencing a stroke is time sensitive and complex work. This year, our stroke program brought together a large interprofessional care team to pilot a new procedure that can expertly remove a blood clot that is causing a large stroke. Already, the procedure has helped several patients recover from a severe stroke in record time and we are planning to expand this service in the near future.
Together with the Hotel Dieu Hospital, we are also piloting a new shared clinic to take pressure off of the Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre. The Rapid Assessment Chronic Disease Management Clinic provides follow-up care for patients with chronic diseases with a nurse practitioner within 24 to 72 hours of their visit to the hospital. This will allow them to go home instead of being admitted to a bed in the hospital and will help prevent repeated visits to the ED.
Another way we can improve the patient experience is to ensure their journey through KGH is as seamless as possible. This year we made a number of adjustments to how our inpatient beds are organized to help make sure the right patients are in the right beds at the right times and are being cared for by the right teams. As part of this process, we renovated parts of Kidd 10 to expand the number of beds in our medicine program and we reassigned some of the extra beds in our pediatrics department to make the best use of our resources.
Along with our own quality and safety measurements, we also regularly put our processes to the test by bringing in outside surveyors to study our performance. This year, our clinical laboratories passed with flying colours, meeting more than 500 standards and achieving full accreditation for another four years from the Institute for Quality Management in Health Care.
We are always looking for innovations to support our goal of delivering patient- and family-centred care. Two highlights this year happened in the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at KGH. Staff in the centre put in place a new patient pager system to alert patients when it’s their turn to come to the check-in area. This provides them with greater privacy and also allows for visits to the washroom or to get a snack while waiting. The cancer centre also created a handy new room for drawing blood samples right off the Burr wing lobby. It supports patients who need to have their blood tested as part of their treatment for cancer or kidney disease.
Working with our patients and families, we set up a new room just off our main lobby for mothers who wish to breastfeed in a quiet and comfortable space. It’s part of our aim to become a baby-friendly hospital. And speaking of babies, thanks to a big donation from the Lions Club of Kingston, two permanent labour tubs will soon be installed in our Labour and Delivery rooms for families that choose a water birth.
A stay in the hospital can be particularly challenging for our smallest patients. On a hot summer day, our Environmental Services department and some high-flying window washers teamed up to get spirits soaring on our pediatrics unit on Kidd 10. The photos of the superheroes in action made news across the country and even overseas.
Transforming the workplace experience
Our aim of transforming the patient experience goes hand in hand with another important goal, transforming the experience of everyone who works at KGH.
We know our employees and physicians are counting on us to create and maintain a happy and healthy workplace where everyone feels supported in their work and closely connected to their colleagues. To this end, each year we focus on making changes that will make the most difference to our staff and our overall work environment.
This year for example we made changes to one of our key digital tools, as well as to our program to build a respectful workplace.
Staff need modern and easy-to- use tools at their fingertips to help them deliver high-quality patient care. It’s why this year we created an all new staff intranet for everyone to use. Along with an engaging front page, this new internal website includes refreshed information and resources, as well as some new features people have been asking for, such as an event calendar, employee blogs, a recognition section, and even a classified ads section.
Everyone needs to feel safe and secure while at work and our new Respectful Workplace Program was created to connect people to all of our key policies. It features a set of new online learning modules that pull together 14 policies that support personal safety, information security and respectful behaviour. We also revamped our Be REAL classroom sessions that are aimed at creating and sustaining a culture of respect throughout our hospital.
KGH is committed to hearing from our employees about what we can do together to improve engagement across the hospital and in their areas. In 2015 we held our second Employee and Physician Engagement Survey and this past year we were busy acting on what we learned. Along with some new training for our leadership group aimed at building recognition and a culture of appreciation, much of the work is happening at the team level where 90 per cent of our teams got together to create team engagement action plans to discuss what changes they would like to make to improve engagement in their areas. During the year, we also held touchstone surveys with different areas to check in on engagement levels so we can keep identifying opportunities for improvement.
In the engagement survey, staff also shared that they would like to get to know our senior executive team better. To support this, a schedule was set up and the executives were soon visiting many different areas of the hospital to talk to people about their ideas, concerns and to answer questions. So far, these drop-ins are earning positive reviews and we expect to continue them as regular practice.
Teamwork is a key feature of how we deliver care at KGH. Each year we gather to highlight examples of the interprofessional teamwork happening at our hospital at our KGH Community Showcase week. A highlight of the week is the KGH Team Awards where teams are celebrated for their contributions to delivering Outstanding Care, Always in the categories of Care, Knowledge and Leadership. The winning teams this year included the KGH Stroke EVT Team, the Radiation Oncology Kaizen Group, and Patient Pager System in the Cancer Centre.
They aren’t called the Smile Cookies for nothing. Many of our staff enjoy taking part in fundraising campaigns that raise money for hospital programs and for the community. This past year, the KGH community helped raise funds for the Smile Cookie campaign, the KGH Auxiliary Teddy Bear campaign, the United Way, and many other events supported by the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, such as the We Walk for Comfort and Care.
Creating a high performing health-care system
Along with focusing on improving everything we do inside our hospital, KGH is also committed to doing all we can to ensure patients and families have a positive experience as they move through the health-care system in our region.
Along with our ongoing integration with Hotel Dieu Hospital, over the past year we worked closely with our other big partners across the South East Local Health Integration Network (SELHIN) on a series of initiatives aimed at creating a more seamless and sustainable health care system.
Much of this work is part of the evolving Health Care Tomorrow - Hospitals Services initiative. It’s bringing together all of the hospital organizations from across our region so we can look for ways to share some key services and create new pathways for patients to navigate.
As part of our commitment to improving the patient experience everywhere, we also made progress this year on our goal of stepping up our ability to carry out patient-oriented research.
The Health Care Tomorrow - Hospital Services has brought together all seven hospital organizations, the South East Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences and the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to focus on ways we can share some of our business services and create new partnerships. Together, we are exploring opportunities to share hospital services and expand on existing collaborations in three main areas: business functions, diagnostic and therapeutics, and clinical services.
Creating new regional care pathways for patients to navigate is also an important part of the Health Care Tomorrow - Hospital Services initiative. This year, we made significant progress on mapping out pathways for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and hip fractures, and for those in need of Palliative Care. The aim is to ensure these patients experience clear communication, shorter wait times, and a consistent, best-practice care journey no matter which hospital they visit within our LHIN.
Talking about their health care treatments and options can sometimes be overwhelming for patients and families. To help make this easier and more effective, this year we launched a new health literacy program that features a “teach back” system. It is an approach to patient-provider communication that successfully addresses communication gaps. It gives us the tools to help ensure we are providing information in ways that are easily understood and are meaningful to our patients. We have also partnered with Health Quality Ontario on a strategy designed with patients, caregivers and health care providers to deliver a Patient-Oriented Discharge Summary. This summary helps patients better manage their own health once they are discharged from hospital.
As a proud member of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), providing state-of- the-art facilities to support and enhance health care patient-oriented research has long been one of KGH’s top priorities. This year, we officially started construction on the William J. Henderson Centre for Patient-Oriented Research. The Centre will be a game changer for our research institute as it will provide clinician scientists, for the first time, with the facilities and capabilities to conduct clinical trials at the earliest stages allowing for the development of new treatments. The Centre is expected to be ready for a grand opening in September 2017.
Our hospital is also looking ahead to the creation of new facilities and equipment for our operating rooms, clinical laboratories, neonatal intensive care unit, labour and delivery, emergency department and our data centre. It’s all part of our $500 million Phase 2 Redevelopment project that will see us tear down several dated buildings to make room for the construction of a modern eight-storey tower. With funding from the province in place for the next stages of planning, teams have been working together with staff and patients and families to create detailed plans about what the new spaces will need and how they will function. Teams from KGH have also been visiting other hospitals to learn about how they have recently redeveloped their spaces. To support the project, the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation will be launching a new campaign to help raise funds for our local share of the project.
Looking to the future
Across Ontario, these are challenging times for many hospitals. More people than ever are arriving at already busy emergency departments and many of them are in need of treatment for chronic diseases that require intensive care over long periods of time. Hospitals are also under pressure to provide new treatments and better patient care than ever before, with fewer available dollars.
It’s why we know our integration to create the Kingston Health Sciences Centre will set us up to meet many of these challenges in the years ahead.
Now that the new legal entity is in place, over the next year we will be turning our focus to fully integrating all of our programs, departments and services. As part of this exciting work we will be looking for ways to innovate and invest in new initiatives for the benefit of our patients and families.
We will also be developing a new vision, mission and longer-term strategy for KHSC. Along with this we will examine our overall brand along the way to make sure it reflects everything we stand for as an organization.
But we can’t do all of this work alone and over the next year we will be turning to the community for guidance and input on what we need to do next to help us transform care together. Stay tuned for more information on how you can be involved.
Stay Connected with KHSC
We invite you to stay connected with us so you can keep track of the exciting things happening at your Kingston Health Sciences Centre via our patient and family-focused website and our social media channels using the links at the bottom of this page.
Please send us any questions or comments you have. Simply click here.
To learn more about our performance over the past year, you can also click on the following links to check out our latest KGH Strategy Performance Report, Management Discussion and Analysis document, Quality Improvement Plan Report and our audited financial statements.