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Family information cards answer vital patient questions

Toronto, March 7, 2016

By Melissa Di Costanzo

Mae Burke, clinical leader manager for the Therapeutic Endoscopy Unit
Mae Burke, clinical leader manager for the Therapeutic Endoscopy Unit, shows a copy of the unit’s Family Information Card. The small sheet of paper answers a number of patients’ and caregivers’ frequently asked questions, including the physician’s name, common procedures, as well as estimated wait times.

As an endoscopy nurse for more than 25 years, Linda Pinches grew accustomed to hearing patients and family members ask the same questions: What is the name of my doctor? How long will surgery take? How many hours will my loved one spend recuperating? She knows waiting and wondering how long a procedure will take places stress on patients and their families.

In an attempt to alleviate these fears and respond to these common queries, Pinches created the Therapeutic Endoscopy Unit 16 CC Family Information Card, which is handed out to all patients’ caregivers.

The small sheet of paper lists the physician’s name, common procedures, estimated wait times and recovery times. A bronchoscopy (a procedure used to look inside the lungs’ airways) typically lasts an hour to an hour and a half, while a colonoscopy (which allows physicians to look at the inner lining of the large intestine) runs anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

The card, part of the unit’s goal to improve communication and an RNAO Best Practice Guideline initiative, reminds patients to have one relative or friend available to accompany the patient home after discharge. Coffee shops located in the hospital are also included and caregivers are encouraged to call the unit phone number for updates, to ensure they’re not left in the dark about their loved ones’ condition.

   
“Families love something they can put in their pocket” - Endoscopy nurse Linda Pinches.

“It’s a very successful initiative as patients and their caregivers appreciate us keeping them in the loop, and providing them with as much information as possible before the procedure,” said Mae Burke, clinical leader manager for the Therapeutic Endoscopy Unit.

Patients from outside Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area, in particular, count the card as a reliable resource.

“They have a much better sense of how to plan their day, which can be challenging for people who live in northern Ontario, for example,” said Pinches.

The added bonus?

“Families love something they can put in their pocket,” said Pinches.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.