Adapting the way we deliver care safely during a pandemic
Anna in mask and face shield in clinic gym
Community is everything to Aurelia Leishman. As a widow, she places a lot of value on her independence, on keeping active and staying connected to those around her. On any given day, a brave and cheerful Aurelia can be seen around her neighborhood saying hello to friends or walking her Yorkie-Poodle mix. But earlier this year she had to change her routine.
In early March, Aurelia had a successful total knee replacement surgery at Mackenzie Health, right before scheduled surgeries were put on hold because of the pandemic. “I’ve spent a lot of time at Mackenzie Health, it’s a second home for me,” explains Aurelia. Her community hospital is a place she trusts. “This is my second knee replacement, so I actually knew what to expect and I knew the team in the hospital would take great care of me. But it was different this time with COVID-19, I admit I was a bit scared.”
After surgery, Aurelia spent time in the hospital so that her care team could help her regain mobility and she could go home safely. To ensure that patients like Aurelia continue to receive the care they need even after they leave the hospital during the pandemic, Mackenzie Health, in partnership with SE Health turned to virtual visits. After being discharged from the hospital, Aurelia was one of the first patients at SE Health’s Rehab Clinic to have a virtual visit with a physiotherapist. “Our virtual care started during the first call,” says Anna Zhao, the physiotherapist who treated Aurelia.
Anna has been a physiotherapist for close to 15 years, and even had her own experience with total knee replacement as a caregiver to her mother last fall. Given Anna’s experience and knowledge, she approached Aurelia’s care holistically from the very start. “Virtual care can be hard when you haven’t met the patient yet,” says Anna. “But after learning more about her life and finding out how communicative she was, I knew that connecting over the phone would make the most sense for her.”
“It was great, Anna called me right away. I could call anytime, I felt really supported,” says Aurelia. For her, the trust she had in Mackenzie Health naturally extended to SE Health’s Rehab Clinic as she continued her recovery journey from hospital to home.
“During her virtual visits, Aurelia and I would talk about her knee and how to prevent falls. But we would also talk about her life,” recalls Anna. “And during those talks I was able to give her guidance on walking her dog safely, being careful on the stairs and beginning to drive again. I was able to treat her as a whole person.”
With restrictions gradually being lifted, Aurelia is now able to see Anna in person at the SE Health Rehab Clinic. Even though they had in-person treatment sessions, their most memorable visit was virtual – when Aurelia bent her knee to almost 100 degrees. “Yes, and we celebrated through the phone,” Anna remembers, laughing fondly.
Thanks to the partnership between the Mackenzie Health and SE Health’s Rehab Clinic, Aurelia was able to stay on track and recover from her surgery during COVID-19. As she returns to her normal activities, she credits the teams at the hospital and at the Rehab Clinic for helping her to return to her community as an active member.
“Stories like Aurelia’s are examples of how working together can have positive outcomes for patients,” said Richard Tam, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Mackenzie Health. “Keeping our patients and staff safe while delivering the ultimate in care during the pandemic has been our top priority at Mackenzie Health and the investments we made in smart technology have helped us deliver that care in innovative ways.”
The professionals at SE Health’s Rehab Clinic have been caring for Mackenzie Health patients for years, making sure that they have the supports they need to recover as best as possible and resume their regular activities when back in the community.
“Our long-time partnership is one that has been built on trust, collaboration, flexibility, seizing opportunities and most of all, ensuring that the patient and provider needs and experiences are at the forefront of what we do together,” says Shelby Fisch, Vice President, Acute Operations, SE Health. “Total Joint Replacements are one of our most recent collaborations. Together we are optimizing outcomes along the patients’ entire care journey through innovative and personalized care when and where it counts.”
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