Online education package readies health professionals to be redeployed to provide COVID-19 care

With the rapid rise and severity of COVID-19 cases, hospitals were concerned that they would urgently need healthcare professionals to redeploy to critical care environments.

To enable this redeployment, a team led by the Michener Institute of Education at UHN worked with experts from across the Toronto Region to create an online education package to ensure healthcare workers have the information they need to safely care for COVID-19 and other critically ill patients.

These educational materials are available for clinicians at criticalcarelearning.ca.


The resources on the site are intended for healthcare providers such as anesthesia assistants, nurses, physicians, physician assistants, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, registered dietitians and respiratory therapists, who are involved in the care of COVID-19 and other critical care patients.

Anyone in these professions wishing to access the site should connect with their Ontario hospital clinical director or manager for the access code and instructions.

The site also includes resources on palliative care and bioethics, as well as team-based models of care, team wellness and resilience to ensure healthcare workers are supported to take care of each other and themselves through the pandemic. More professions, such as personal support workers and pharmacists, and resources will be added in the next phase as redeployment strategies evolve.

The rapid development and delivery of the criticalcarelearning.ca resources was led and supported by a highly-skilled and collaborative regional team of educational experts, clinicians, academics and leaders across the region.

 

Did in 10 days what would typically take months

Michener’s Executive Vice-President of Education Dr. Brian Hodges is the education lead for the Toronto Region Critical Care Capacity Steering Committee, which asked Michener to bring together a task force to create the education resources.

That task force was chaired by Maria Tassone, Michener’s Senior Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development, and the education streams were led by Karen Chaiton, Director, Business Operations, and Mohammad Salhia, Director, Continuing Education and International.

They brought together not only an impressive team of subject matter experts from across the Toronto hospital and academic health sciences network, but also delivered Phase 1 of the education package and website within 10 days – a phenomenal accomplishment that would typically have taken months.

“This interprofessional and collaborative team has done a service of immense importance to healthcare professionals from across the GTA who are now facing the very daunting prospect of working in critical care,” says Dr. Hodges.

“What this team has accomplished will directly translate into increased confidence and better peace of mind for very anxious healthcare professionals and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say it will lead to better care for patients and contribute to lives saved.”

Within days of the site’s launch, more than 2,000 healthcare professionals accessed the site’s resources in order to prepare for possible redeployment.

Eden Wright, a registered nurse working in a cancer unit at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre that has recently transitioned to a COVID-19 unit, was one of the site’s early users.

“I can tell that working through the course will help my patients tremendously, as well as myself and my colleagues,” Eden says. “Thanks again and know that this will have a positive impact over here.”

As there are currently fewer cases of COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, the platform has now expanded to focus on pandemic preparedness should a second wave occur. New features on the website include a site evaluation component, simulation activities, virtual care modules, and curated resources for healthcare workers as they care for patients and residents in a COVID world.