VP of Seniors Services ensures the right focus in Winchester

The Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) is committed to supporting seniors – starting right at the top. Last year, the hospital hired Karl Samuelson, its first Vice President, Seniors’ Services, to lead a renewed commitment to this specialized care.

And for Karl, the little things matter. Recently, he recorded a CD of old-time music for patients in Complex Continuing Care. The benefits were evident right away as an elderly cancer patient enjoyed the songs. “I can’t dance anymore but I can still move to the music,” she said with a big smile. Her husband later told the nursing staff that it was one of the best days she’s had. He was very thankful that the Winchester staff had done this for both of them.

Karl says it’s his job to help WDMH serve the needs of the growing elderly population. “We want to earn our communities’ trust and provide for their needs. This role gives me the opportunity to work with an organization that truly wants to implement the very things that I have advocated for over the past two decades. This includes finding ways to keep seniors out of nursing homes for as long as possible.”

WDMH is located about 40 minutes south of Ottawa, serving 90,000 residents in the surrounding communities. It is a full service hospital and serves as a hub site for cancer care, dialysis and cataract surgery.  Specialty clinics with visiting specialists from Ottawa hospitals are also offered. A $60 million capital expansion project has resulted in the most technologically-advanced facility in rural Ontario.

The senior-focused philosophy can be found in every area of the organization. For example, WDMH was the first rural teaching hospital in eastern Ontario and it wants to expand that learning to focus on seniors’ care.  “For our medical students, there should be teaching in long-term care homes just as there are teaching hospitals. WDMH is committed to such an environment,” says Samuelson.

Karl also serves as Administrator of Dundas Manor Nursing Home in Winchester, extending the senior-focused philosophy even further.

Both organizations are part of the bigger Centre of Excellence for Rural Health and Education. It brings specific health care providers, educators and researchers together – and partners with other providers that impact the health of local communities.  These partnerships support healthy rural communities – putting patients and families first throughout their life. The Centre includes WDMH, a Community Care Building (under construction), Dundas Manor and other onsite and virtual education and teaching partners. Partners such as the local community care access centre, public health unit, early years’ child centre and others come together for care on one site close to home.

“We are committed to having the very best seniors’ services as part of our new Centre of Excellence,” adds Cholly Boland, CEO. “These include the hospital, nursing home and community services working closely together for the benefit of our seniors. Our teaching and research activities help us ensure that all of our services are of the highest quality.”

Karl believes the Centre of Excellence in Rural Health and Education offers tremendous benefit for seniors in the region. “The day will come when the Centre of Excellence at WDMH will also be recognized across the country for its extremely progressive plan. We have the pieces in place and the infrastructure to get there.  I’m excited to be part of that.  And our seniors deserve nothing less.”