“It was really all-hands-on-deck,” says Dr. Nathan Stall.
He’s referring to his experience in April and May, being voluntarily redeployed from his regular duties as a Mount Sinai Hospital geriatrician to a Toronto long-term care home overwhelmed with an outbreak of COVID-19 among their residents.
Sinai Health’s Mount Sinai Hospital established a relationship with the nursing home 16 days into a large COVID‐19 outbreak that began in late March. By the time the two institutions joined forces, 89 of the home’s residents were infected with COVID-19.
In response to the crisis, a cadre of Sinai Health nurses, administrators, geriatricians, psychiatrists, palliative care doctors, and infection control experts were able to offer their support to the long-term care home’s incredibly dedicated and hard-working staff.
While the deployment of Sinai Health staff was funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Sinai Health donors funded some of the tools to enable the care. These contributions were instrumental in the initiative’s success.
“It really made me proud of Sinai because we had such incredible support from our donors,” says Dr. Stall. “We received mobile tablets, secure video communications technology and medical equipment that we needed to both stay safe and provide excellent care for the home.
The tablets that Dr. Stall and his colleagues used to consult with the long-term care home’s staff and residents were paid for by donors to the Sinai CEO Fund, which was established to provide flexible funding to Sinai Health during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The iPads facilitated a ton of virtual care,” says Dr. Stall. “We couldn’t go to the home and then go back to the hospital because of the risk of transmitting COVID so the iPads were instrumental in rapidly creating an interdisciplinary and virtual emergency response from our hospital.”
For example, with safe “virtual care,” the redeployed team could include Mount Sinai specialists in their rounds. Mount Sinai psychiatrist-in-chief Dr. Lesley Wiesenfeld weighed in regularly about how best to manage medications for patient with advanced dementia or other mental illnesses. Mount Sinai palliative care physician Dr. Ramona Mahtani advised on how to safely reduce pain in patients with other complex health issues.
Thanks to donations to the CEO Fund, the redeployed team was able to transport urgently-needed oxygen tanks from Mount Sinai Hospital.
“It was mind-boggling how hard everyone worked,” he recalls. “The home’s Registered Practical Nurses were working 18-hour days, day in day out. One nursing home administrator slept in his garage to keep his family safe.”
Along with the team’s incredible efforts, what Dr. Stall remembers most clearly is how Sinai Health and its donors rallied around to offer support.
“There were no reservations about supporting us,” says Dr. Stall. “Everyone was completely dedicated and aligned. Collectively, the Sinai Health team spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working to support this long-term care home.”
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