St. Mary’s stresses need for continuous innovation
March 17, 2021
KITCHENER-WATERLOO, Ont. – St. Mary’s General Hospital has introduced a new Strategic Plan for 2021-2026 that emphasizes the need for innovation to provide high-level care to patients. The plan also highlights the need to support diversity and to continually improve through the use of partnerships.
“St. Mary’s is known for providing high quality, compassionate care and always striving to reach new heights,” said President Lee Fairclough (pictured). “This plan acknowledges the need for healthcare in this community to keep pace with growth and innovation in the community and region. It also addresses the need to plan for infrastructure and care needs of the future, aligned with the Region of Waterloo’s vision of planning for a world class community.”
“Our success in providing better connected, more equitable care for patients and families will depend on strong partnerships,” Ms. Fairclough added. “Working through this pandemic has strengthened many partnerships within and outside the health sector in our community and region. The plan incorporates the continued need to address the pandemic and envisions opportunities to extend those partnerships to other aspects of care.”
Some highlights and actions in the plan’s five priority areas include:
- Priority 1 – Expand equitable access to high quality, empowered care:
Increase the number of patients served, and spectrum of services available, through our regional Cardiac and Chest programs.
Increase emphasis on ensuring our diverse community of patients and staff feel safe and have equitable access to care.
- Priority 2 – Transform connected care with our partners and community:
Continue to build on the partnerships we developed during the pandemic with the Ontario Health Team and other hospitals to ensure patients transition smoothly between care settings.
Further integrate virtual care and new models for delivery of care with the community.
- Priority 3 – Develop our team of today and the future:
Support our current teams in their learning and development.
Increase the number of students who have an opportunity to learn at St. Mary’s across disciplines, including medical residents.
- Priority 4 – Embrace new ways to innovate healthcare:
Build on the collaboration established during the pandemic with the non-hospital sector.
Develop an innovation collaborative with Communitech and local businesses, McMaster University, University of Waterloo and our hospital partners (Grand River and Cambridge Memorial).
- Priority 5 – Build for growth:
Enhance St. Mary’s equipment and infrastructure to meet short-term care needs.
Continue a joint effort, currently in its beginning phase, between St. Mary’s and Grand River Hospital, to address the longer-term infrastructure needs of our hospitals through the master planning process.
Fully utilize digital systems and information to improve quality of care.
Fairclough told CBC News that a good example of innovation is telehealth or virtual care. “One is virtual care,” she said, “and adjusting the way that we actually provide more connected care to patients. And the other is really … about how will we innovate in new ways in healthcare.”
While some patients may be concerned the move to embrace virtual care and increase the reliance on technology could lead to a reduction in quality in-person care, Fairclough said it won’t replace in-person interactions where necessary.
“We’ve also heard from patients that they have liked the experience of being able to do, let’s say, virtual follow-up type clinics where they’re feeling well and they don’t need to journey into the hospital,” she said.
Another priority area for the hospital involves working with partners in the community to “transform connected care.” This includes working with members of the KW4 Ontario Health Team to develop care strategies for people who are elderly, homeless, or refugees.
“I can give you a really practical example that’s happening through the Ontario health team,” Fairclough said. “It’s translation services. What is our ability to support access to care where people can also have access to translation in that care? And that unto itself would be a change that we can make as a group of partners that would make a big difference for patients.”
The need to focus on responding equitability to the needs of different patients was highlighted during consultations with the hospital’s patient and family advisory committee, Fairclough said.