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Transforming and innovating to meet patient needs

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By Roxanne Hathway-Baxter

It goes without saying that every patient who comes through the doors of Runnymede Healthcare Centre is different. Often the path to recovery is filled with challenges along the way, and a hospital’s ability to accommodate patients’ specific needs is incredibly important. To support their treatment journey, Runnymede’s programs and services have been designed with one goal in mind – excellent patient-centered care. In turn, this is supporting the wider healthcare system by admitting patients who are Alternative Level of Care (ALC) ­– those who no longer need the type of care provided by an acute care hospital, but are unable to be discharged because there are no beds suited for their needs in other facilities.

A pilot project for stroke patients, The Innovative Journey for Stroke Recovery, was introduced at Runnymede in 2016 in collaboration with Trillium Health Partners (THP) in response to an identified need in the community. Patients admitted to THP who have suffered a severe stroke are transferred to Runnymede once they are ready to start rehabilitation. This offers patients the advantage of slower stream rehabilitation through the hospital’s Low Tolerance Long Duration Rehabilitation (LTLD Rehab) program. Once the patients have reached the identified rehabilitation goals at Runnymede they return to THP to undergo active rehabilitation, which is performed at a faster pace.

LTLD Rehab is ideally suited to severe stroke patients, because at the beginning of their treatment, many are unable to tolerate the intensity of rehabilitation provided at acute care hospitals. By taking rehabilitation at a slower pace initially, patients are able to build up their strength, and can either transition into a more active and intense rehabilitation program, or complete their treatment at Runnymede and return to the community.

The hip fracture initiative at Runnymede is another partnership designed to put patient needs at the forefront and address a pressing system challenge. Made possible through collaboration with THP and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Runnymede is focused on standardizing and enhancing access to rehabilitation for patients post-hip fracture, while reducing the average length of stay for patients in acute care hospitals – an all too common problem in the current system. By getting patients out of acute care and into a rehabilitation facility like Runnymede, they can jumpstart their treatment journey by getting the right level of care that they need for their recovery.

Unfortunately, finding spaces for patients in rehabilitation facilities is becoming more and more of a challenge, as the demand for them increases throughout the healthcare system. In 2016, there were over 4000 ALC patients in Ontario acute care hospitals waiting for beds in other facilities, and of these patients, 19 per cent were waiting for rehabilitation beds.

In this time of increased demand, Runnymede is more than ready to help address system challenges. In November 2016, the hospital marked a major turning point in their history by receiving a reclassification as a Group “E” general rehabilitation hospital, under Regulation 964 of the Public Hospitals Act. With this new designation, Runnymede has transformed from a complex continuing care hospital into a rehabilitation hospital, with 70 of the 206 beds specifically classified as “rehabilitation beds.”

“At Runnymede, we’re always looking for ways to provide an exceptional patient experience and improve the quality of patient-centred care. Our reclassification as a rehabilitation hospital will allow us to continue to provide patients with the best possible care, and also help our system partners to address the challenges being faced by the healthcare system at large,” says Runnymede President and CEO, Connie Dejak.

Runnymede’s reclassification as a rehabilitation hospital and the continued addition of new patient-centred programs, like the hip fracture initiative and Innovative Journey for Stroke Recovery, are demonstrating its commitment to both its patients and system partners. These measures will have a positive impact on the individuals and on the wider healthcare system at this crucial point in time.

Roxanne Hathway-Baxter is a Communications Specialist at Runnymede Healthcare Centre.

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