Osler creates a welcoming place for children and families

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When you’re just four years old and not feeling well, simply being inside a hospital can be intimidating. Throw in a whole battery of complicated medical tests and blood work and things get downright scary. One small patient at William Osler Health Centre’s Peel Memorial Hospital recently had to undergo such an experience and impressed the physicians and staff with his cooperative attitude throughout the process. At the end of his stay, the Child Life Worker, Josie Parnis, discovered that he liked Spiderman and presented him with a little Lego Spiderman toy. “He was so thrilled! It was like all those tests never happened,” Parnis said. “And you should have seen his mother’s faceÉshe never expected that from a hospital.”

Moments like these are pure gold to both parents and staff – when sick children are able to forget their pain and illness for a time and simply be joyful. It’s what guides the health centre’s commitment to provide not only good clinical care, but good emotional care as well.

In keeping with this goal, Osler has introduced a number of initiatives designed to make the hospital a more welcoming place for children and families. Docky O, a new otter mascot wearing colourful scrubs and sporting a stethoscope made his debut last year to help children feel less fearful. The visitor policy now allows siblings to visit children on the paediatric wards and infants in the neonatal intensive care units. New sleeper beds have been added at Osler’s Etobicoke Hospital site thanks to funding from a Royal Bank sponsored Hoofathon. The playroom at Peel Memorial Hospital in Brampton was revamped with help from the Brampton South Rotary Club. Free coffee and tea are always available for parents who need refreshment. And the paediatric regional clinics have been relocated to a new family friendly location with a play area within the waiting room.

“We aim to make all care as family-focused as possible. For example, we give mothers close access to their babies and encourage physical touch, and we like children to be able to have their parents in the room all the time,” said Dr. Maher Abou-Seido, who joined William Osler Health Centre in 2005 as the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Osler is one of four community hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) designated as a regional paediatric centre by the Child Health Network. The Women’s and Children’s Health Care Program handles about 10 per cent of all births in the GTA and offers a Level II Special Care Nursery at Etobicoke Hospital and an Advanced Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at Peel Memorial Hospital.

With a relatively young and rapidly growing population in the catchment area, the demand for both routine and specialized health care is extremely high. In addition to a range of standard obstetric and paediatric services, the health centre provides sub-specialty clinics in respirology and nephrology in partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children and recently opened a high-risk neonatal follow up clinic and sickle cell clinic.

Services are poised to expand even further in 2007 when Osler opens a new hospital in Brampton with 608 beds, many more physicians and staff, and much needed space for programs to grow to meet the community’s exploding health needs. The 18 neonatal beds at Peel Memorial will be transferred to the new site and be increased to 34. Paediatric beds will be increased from 18 to at least 26. Full obstetric and paediatric services at the busy Etobicoke Hospital site will be maintained and will continue to be a high priority.

For the future, there are hopes of opening more specialized clinics, exploring more high-tech gynaecology services and providing integrated pregnancy screening if resources allow. Yet, regardless of how much the program expands, the leadership team is determined to ensure that Osler’s youngest patients and their families remain front and centre.

The new hospital has the physical space and design to allow truly patient-focused health care. Larger rooms and “care by parent” rooms will provide more comfort for parents to stay overnight with their child or learn to care for a child who will need a high level of care after discharge. There will also be lounges and refreshment centres so that families can eat meals together or just relax.Dr. Ivor Margolis, Chief of Paediatrics, particularly likes how children’s needs have been taken into account in the hospital’s plan. “Parents will really begin to see that they don’t always have to take their children to Sick Kids (hospital), when they can receive a high level of care close to home,” he said. “The new hospital will be gorgeous. There’s a whole separate paediatric area in the emergency department so kids don’t have to be in the main waiting room. The design team really got that right!”