Monday, 15 April 2013

Pink Shirt Day

 We missed Pink Shirt Day because of freezing rain, so we're wearing them today instead!  It is a very important day for our family.  It is all about acceptance, peace and standing up against bullying.  Our two little ones have had a bit of a rough go at school this year- which Jonathan talks about here .

Props to any photographer that can get all of us looking in the same direction at the same time.  Jon did an awesome job, it only took about 40 or so frames to get it right.  Sigh.

The kids had a great time making their shirts.  We started with plain white t-shirts and dyed them pink.  Then we convinced Daddy that he should draw on them with permanent marker.  Because my drawing doesn't exactly extend beyond stick figures.  My stepson's shirt is the original one purchased from the school- I didn't quite get the colour right with the little guys but it's pretty close.

We have been doing a lot of talking about what "bullying" means, how and why it happens, and how to help make it stop.  We have been reading a lot of stories about it, and asking the kids how they think and feel about the characters and their situations.  We also ask them what they would do if they saw someone being mistreated.  I love the answers that I am hearing, and I hope that it translates into their every day lives away from home.  When we watch movies or television programs (not often) we continue the dialogue as well.


Because we believe there is  need to recognize bullying behaviours in order to stop them. We have the power to make a difference in someone's life EVERY SINGLE DAY by standing up and speaking out.

The best thing about the Pink Shirts? They haven't taken them off since Friday. As a matter of fact, I have NO IDEA when they will finally surrender them to the laundry! But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Changing the Face of Healthcare

Sometimes being a patient is easier when you know that people are listening

Kingston General Hospital has been the place for many firsts for our family.

It was the first time in our health care journey that I felt comfortable enough to express my honest opinion. I spoke of our frustration with the process, the feeling of having no control and of not understanding what, when and who we should turn to. I remember the candid conversation vividly- as well as the feeling that I was leaving a great puddle of emotion heaped on the floor of the exam room.

But I also remember feeling like it was the first time that someone listened. And we're thankful for that.  Sometimes it strikes me as not my finest moment, but it was a very important step for me on the road to becoming an e-patient/caregiver. This was the first physician who provided us with his email address just in case we had any questions or concerns while we waited for our procedure date. He spoke candidly, and didn't bat an eyelash when I asked him about the drugs he would use for Owen.  During the exam he kept up an ongoing dialogue with both Jon and myself, and even though Owen had no words at that point, he easily brought him into the conversation as well.  We fully understood that in that room, in that hospital, we weren't just patients, we were part of a care team.  For that we're thankful, too.

Kingston General Hospital was the first place that we paced the halls nervously while Owen was under anaesthetic. It was the first time that I had to entrust his care to a medical team and wait outside the room.  It was handled perfectly, from beginning to end, and though we were nervous, we knew he was in good hands. It was also our first experience with a Child Life Specialist -a Paediatric Health Care Specialist that works with children and families to help them cope with hospitalization, medical procedures and illness using age/developmentally appropriate strategies to help them understand what is going on. Again, I cannot express how much this meant to us as nervous parents.  You see, Owen is a pretty stubborn little guy when it comes to staying asleep when there is stuff going on.  We were a little shocked when we saw the gurney come back from the procedure room, empty. But just seconds later, we saw a very sleepy little boy cuddled up in the arms of the Child Life Specialist.  He woke just enough to see her standing by the bed after the MRI and decided to climb up.  We feel truly blessed that a healthcare professional simply rolled with the punches and made sure that he was safe. I am not sure if there are enough words to ever thank them for that.

Jonathan's first experience with Kingston General Hospital is a difficult one to talk about.  It was the setting for the birth of his first child, a beautiful little girl named Seila.  It was the first place that he got to hold her, but sadly, also the last. Seila's story, in her Daddy's words, can be found here.

KGH was also the birth place of Jonathan's first son, Cole- born happy and healthy a year after the loss of Seila.  Words escape me, as "thankful" does not seem right here, nor even close to big enough.

I can see the wheels turning, dear readers.  I know you are wondering why I am writing this narrative, and singing the praises of a hospital other than the one in The Friendly City.  The answer is simple.  Kingston General Hospital has dedicated itself to transforming the patient and family experience through innovative and collaborative approaches to care, knowledge and leadership.  They not only maintain a highly approachable presence both online and off, but they WILLINGLY interact with patients, caregivers and the public on a daily basis. I couldn't  tell you what the CEO of my local hospital looks like.  But I could pick the CEO of Kingston General out of a crowded room.  What I find most interesting about this approach, is that I get to watch it happen.  Let's not forget that KGH is a University hospital- this means that many of healthcare professionals that are currently enrolled at Queen's are getting first hand experience in what it takes to change the current system.  With my family's health and wellness at the forefront of my mind, I fully support this effort!

I want to know, as a patient and caregiver, that my hospital is willing to listen to me.  I want access to treatment options, care plans, and help navigating an intricate and often times overwhelming system.  Open doors, open ears, and open hearts.  I want a  strong SUPPORT NETWORK.  Not just a doctor- I want a TEAM, and you know what?  I'm going to be the captain.

View from the top of Jon's crane during the KGH expansion in 2009

To learn more about the initiatives at Kingston General Hospital I highly recommend checking out the KGH Connect Blog.  They have done an excellent job of sharing their culture through this blog, as well as keeping up to date with the day to day challenges and changes taking place.  For an excellent in-depth discussion of patient involvement within the hospital you should watch Leslee Thompson - Changing the Face of Health Care which can be found here: TedX QueensU

What changes would you like to see within the healthcare system?  Do you believe that change is possible?  I would love to hear from you- please, drop me a line in the comment section below!