Story Category: Caregiver Story

Co-Designing a New Kind of Research with Our Donors

Dr. Robert Reid is an internationally-recognized researcher and the first Chief Scientist of Trillium Health Partners’ Institute for Better Health (IBH), which improves the long-term health of our community through practical research.

As an expert in health systems research and population health, Dr. Reid was drawn to THP because of our mission to create a new kind of health care for a healthier community.

“When we see that something is not working, we have to try another approach until we have a real impact on people’s health,” he remarks. He should know. Dr. Reid has vast experience with public health projects as both a medical doctor and researcher.

He was instrumental in developing the delivery of team-based care at Seattle’s Group Health, which resulted in better quality of care, the reduction of health system costs, and improved patient experiences. Now Dr. Reid is applying his vision for high-quality care to our community—with the integral support of our community. Our community’s donors are supporting this practical research—in a sense, co-designing community health with Dr. Reid and the IBH.

A New Kind of Research for a New Kind of Health Care

To best serve our community, he believes, we must create a “patient-centred approach” to research that is based on our patients’ needs and preferences. It’s research that is based on understanding if, how, and why particular groups are able to access health services, and how the delivery of care can be improved to meet their needs.

One project is the Customized Care project, which examines groups based on their common needs (like why certain groups avoid breast-cancer screening), and provides the opportunity to target health services for these groups rather than applying a broad, generic approach. The findings from this project will help redesign our services, communication strategies, and preventative solutions.

Our diverse population is providing a great opportunity to understand the unique needs of the people we serve and how best to provide care for them. And it’s our community that’s supporting us with funding to make our community-relevant research happen.

>> Please support programs like innovative research at Trillium Health Partners and help provide the highest quality patient-centred care for long-term community health.

Mothers, Daughters, and Nurses

Barb Comrie-Hall and her daughter Sydney Hall are unique for being the only mother-daughter nursing duo in our Emergency Department (ED). Nursing is a calling that runs through the mothers and daughters of their family—and inspired by a cherished colleague, Carol.

Barb Comrie-Hall and her daughter Sydney Hall
Barb Comrie-Hall (right) and her daughter Sydney Hall

Consider this. Barb’s grandmothers were respectively a nurse’s aid and a midwife. Barb’s mom was also an Emergency nurse. Barb’s aunt was a nurse. Barb’s sister is a nurse. And, of course, both Barb and Sydney are nurses—together—at our Credit Valley Hospital site. Talk about continuity of care.

Inspiring Stories—Inspiring Care
Inspiring care comes from inspiring stories and inspiring examples—mother to daughter, colleague to colleague. “Growing up I liked hearing my mom’s stories,” says Sydney, “and I saw how happy she was providing emergency care with an amazing team.” So Sydney went into nursing, too. After nursing school she was hired as a cardiac nurse, which “was a great experience,” she explains, “but I always wanted to be an ED nurse,” which she recently became.

Emergency Department Challenges
Barb came to Trillium Health Partners because she had been looking for a challenge. Coming to the Credit Valley Hospital’s ED reinvigorated her because it’s the busiest ED in the greater Toronto area with over 100,000 patient visits a year. But the challenges go beyond the numbers.

The Credit Valley Hospital’s ED is over thirty years old and was only ever meant to see a maximum of 50,000 patients a year. It was designed to meet the health care needs of the past—a time when patient volumes were low and patient care less complex.

Barb threw herself into her role and devoted herself to committees and projects to improve the ED. “I got actively involved in everything,” she recalls.

Remembering Carol—Nurse, Mother, Mentor
“We love the whole ED team,” observes Sydney. “They’re like a second family to us.” One reason they feel such warmth for their team is because of the mentorship of Carol Mifsud, a long-time ED charge nurse with a reputation for guiding new nurses. “On my very first day, Carol acted as my mentor,” remembers Barb, appreciatively.

Carol Mifsud was loved by everyone. “She had a dry sense of humour that made even the toughest shifts good,” recalls Barb. Carol was giving to all, particularly younger nurses. However, last year, after a determined six-year fight with thyroid cancer, Carol passed away at the age of 53.

“Losing Carol was a tremendous loss for the ED family,” says Barb. “That’s why we want to honour her.”

Because of Carol’s strength and determination as a nurse, mentor, wife, and mother, Barb, Sydney, and the entire ED team are raising funds to dedicate a room to Carol’s memory in the child-friendly area of the new Emergency Department where this nurse and mother’s story will continue to inspire.

>> Our over 3,800 nurses are always guiding, nurturing, and listening at our three hospital sites, at all times of day and night. Please make a donation in honour of National Nursing Week.

Cancer Care is Always Personal

Introducing Dr. Sameena Uddin, Program Chief and Medical Director, Oncology

Dr. Sameena Uddin, Program Chief and Medical Director, Oncology

Program Chief and Medical Director of Oncology Dr. Sameena Uddin has an intimate understanding of cancer care from a patient’s view and a physician’s. That’s because five of Dr. Uddin’s aunts had cancer.

She has both seen diagnoses given to her family, and given diagnoses to families. She has seen treatments given to her own, and she has treated patients of her own. She has seen lives impacted by cancer up close—her own family’s and her patients’ families.

One in two Ontarians will develop cancer. And one in four will die from it. Cancer touches us all—colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Dr. Uddin knows this because she’s lived it.

“Many times you’re breaking terrible news to wonderful people,” she says. “I am constantly inspired by my patients,” she continues, “because they demonstrate strength, courage, and resiliency during a dire time.”

The Heart of Cancer Care
The relationships Dr. Uddin forges with patients and their families are precious. “I come to know them during what I call a privileged moment of vulnerability and we establish a close bond. This is at the heart of cancer care for me, and I cherish this.”

Because her patients invest such trust in her, she says that it is her duty to them “to always be transparent with them.” “One aspect of our care at our cancer centre that is exemplary is that we do not just focus on our patients’ illness,” she explains, “We focus on them as people, people with fears and anxieties, who sometimes need to talk.”

Patient-centred cancer care means more than a radiation treatment regimen, as essential as that is. “Having cancer is a series of struggles,” she remarks. “Our team is very good at helping patients and their families with those struggles—like how to talk to your kids about cancer—as well as providing technologically advanced treatments.”

“Listening,” she says “is such an important part of the care process.”

At the Centre of the Circle of Care
The technological care provided at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre is the same as other centres. Our hospital uses the same advanced technologies, like immunotherapy, targeted radiation, and targeted systems therapy (oral), among others. “The difference,” she observes, “is that our care is close to home, with familiar providers who know them as people—by name. Our patients never fall out of what I call our ‘circle of care.’”

“I’ve seen care at other hospitals as a physician and with family,” she says. “There can be care rooms that are so full with residents, fellows, medical students, nurses, and physicians that it feels like the patient can fall out of that circle.”

“Not here,” she says. “That never happens here—our patients and their families are always at the centre of our care.”

The gratitude that she and her team receive afterwards is testament to our high quality care. Many patients or families of former patients return to express their thanks for the compassionate care they received.

>> Did you know that our cancer centre has the shortest wait times for radiation treatment in Ontario? Your support is enabling our excellence. Please give generously.

Practicing in Her Community

Raised in Mississauga and trained at Trillium Health Partners. Watch Nadia’s story and discover why she’s staying to practice medicine in our community.

Living Our Values

Watch this video about kids’ courage and see why this THP doctor decided to pursue medicine.

Helping Kids with Cancer

Watch this video about how THP provides world-class children’s cancer care right here in our community at the largest satellite paediatric cancer clinic in Ontario.