It cannot be denied that Kingston General Hospital has received some less-than-favourable feedback over the years. Now, hospital officials are looking to connect with the public in order to better understand the needs of patients and ultimately implement programs and practices that will be as effective as possible.
On the evening of Nov. 10, KGH held a public event called Patients Know Best, which saw members from the hospital’s Patient Advisory Council, formed in February of 2010, speak about their own experiences at the hospital and how they are helping to shape the future of care delivered there.
“Input from patients is critical to how we make improvements in hospital settings and for the whole experience of patients,” said KGH Vice President for Clinical Administration and Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Officer Eleanor Rivoire.
Advisor Lidia Dorosz gave a heart-felt account of what it was like to witness her mother be neglected, often to the point of abuse, by nursing staff at the hospital as she lived her final days.
“I am a council member because I want to make a difference,” she said. “I want to hold people accountable…it’s time that we (are able) to feel safe about going to KGH.”
Overall, Dorosz said that she hopes sharing her story and participating on the patient advisory committee will give others the courage to speak up when they see a problem, and fight the battle that needs to be fought for better care.
“We want to be a sobering reminder to every health care professional that we demand respect and dignity and we demand to be a part of the partnership,” she said. “(What happened to my mother) is not to happen again. That’s what this is about.”
Advisor and former patient Jennifer Dee agreed, saying that for her it’s all about putting some humanity back into the hospital system.
“I would like to be a partner,” she said. “I’m tired of someone treating me like a widget, a piece of meat, a number.”
“I’m the person that reminds the staff that we all put our pants on one leg at a time,” added advisor Doug Davey.
He remarked that he has in fact had many great experiences at KGH, and would like to use those along with the not-so-great experiences, as well as advice and ideas from similar committees in other cities to guide the process.
Advisor Glenn Outhwaite has also spent a lot of time in the hospital over the years, resulting in both negative and positive experiences.
“I wanted to see change occur and I wanted to be involved in making the environment much more user-friendly and to see where patients and family members could actually become part of the decision-making process,” he said.
Outhwaite remarked that while there is still a long way to go, the change the committee has affected so far has been remarkable to see. Already, it has been an important voice on current hospital changes and issues, such as the menus that are being considered by the new food service.
“We were able to give them significant input as to how (the menus) need to change,” he said. “The feedback I heard was how delighted (hospital officials) were that they had come to us…and that’s really positive reinforcement for the things that we’re doing.”
“Each and every one of you has taught us so much and the experience of being in this forum is such a reflection of the growth that we’re experiencing,” said KGH CEO Leslee Thompson to the advisory committee members.
She said that it has been difficult to hear stories like Dorosz’s, as she is confident hospital staff make an honest effort every day to do the best they possibly can.
“But we know there are things in the way (of) the system (that) contribute to a lot of barriers and annoyances and sometimes bad things do happen,” Thompson said. “So we thought we would focus very much on a future that centres around hearing what people want: outstanding care always, every second of every day.”
The hospital also recently launched a website, KGH Connect, as a way to enhance communication with the community and help the public stay informed about what’s going on at the hospital. For more information, or to learn how you can get involved, please visit www.kghconnect.ca.