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Health care pivoting, innovating

As the COVID-19 pandemic tested us all, it also taught health care organizations to innovate services and interact with partners, patients and clients more effectively and creatively.
RIH patient-care tower
In total, the Thompson Regional Hospital District is funding $172 million of the $417-million patient-care tower at Royal Inland Hospital.

As the COVID-19 pandemic tested us all, it also taught health care organizations to innovate services and interact with partners, patients and clients more effectively and creatively.

When pressures on hospital capacity increased and elective surgeries needed to be paused, Royal Inland Hospital adjusted its process to deliver some surgeries without requiring an overnight stay.

These innovations were tremendous for patients like Shelby Roblin.

“My surgery was in the morning. I saw the physio therapist at one and I left the hospital at 2 p.m.,” Roblin said.

When her orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Chris Dusik, told her she would be able to sleep in her own bed the same night as her partial knee-replacement surgery and avoid a stay in hospital, she was ecstatic.

“Dr. Dusik did a fantastic job. I slept well and was up walking about in the morning. I would recommend going home that day to anyone who fits the criteria. It is just so much better for recovery,” Roblin said.

Removing the need for an overnight stay helps manage hospital capacity and allows more patients to get surgery sooner and return to the comfort of their own home hours after their procedures are completed.

Interior Health also found new ways to safely engage and communicate with patients, employees, physicians, volunteers and the public. Every department within the organization was called upon to find or follow innovate ways to connect safely and effectively with people of all ages.

Virtual communication was stepped up across the health system as patients and care providers adjusted to telephone or video appointments. Social media is not new, but use but Interior Health ramped up substantially as a tool for pandemic and other forms of engagement and communication.

At Royal Inland Hospital, site leadership held virtual town halls with staff and physicians, providing updates on site planning and recruitment, addressing challenges and gathering feedback from teams around how to improve services and care.

Community members also served an important role in keep staff spirits up in extremely trying times through their own use of social media. Patients and families shared and continue to share their gratitude for care received as they celebrate health-care teams through messages and stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and electronic staff newsletters.

Social media also allowed our health experts to share public health messages on topics like COVID-19, as well as ongoing health and wellness, tips for emergency situations such as floods and wildfires, dealing with wood ticks and many other topics.

Additionally, Interior Health joined organizations globally in turning extensively to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and teleconferences for meetings of every description, including crucial discussions with experts across the health authority for dealing with COVID-19.

While the impact of COVID-19 is easing, teams in Kamloops and across Interior Health are excited to continue to explore innovative ways to connect with patients, communities and each other with an ongoing commitment to quality patient care.