Our Stories

MSICU is as good as gold

Toronto, October 27, 2017

By Geoff Koehler

The Beacon Award for Excellence

The Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit of St. Michael’s Hospital has been named a Gold recipient of The Beacon Award for Excellence by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. It is the only unit in Canada that currently holds this distinction.

The Gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes hospital units that set the standard for exceptional patient care and positive and supportive work environments.

St. Michael’s MSICU serves critically ill patients from downtown Toronto and all across Ontario. Expert nurses, physicians, health disciplines professionals and support staff work collaboratively to provide critically ill patients with the highest level of support for their unique care needs.

“Individually and collectively, our staff work at an incredible level to provide the highest quality care and to support patients and families during their critical illness experience,” said Karen Wannamaker, Clinical Leader-Manager of the MSICU. “I’m especially proud that the AACN has recognized our nurses’ commitment to continuously searching for new and creative ways to improve experiences for patients and families.”

The Beacon committee noted a number of initiatives in St. Michael’s MSICU that stood out, including:

  • focus on comprehensive transfer of accountability between nurses, such as during shift change or when a patient moves to another unit
  • commitment to interprofessional and collaborative care
  • attention to student learning and professional development
  • active research engagement
  • dedication to compassionate, end-of-life care

“By benchmarking ourselves against the rest of the world, we have tangibly demonstrated how St. Michael's is realizing our goal of excelling in the care of critically ill patients,” said Orla Smith, a critical care nurse and scientist who co-led the interprofessional Beacon submission working group. “Our Gold status is one way of distinguishing ourselves as Canada’s premier critical care hospital across the domains of quality care, education, research, patient and family experience, and work environment.”

The Beacon’s rigorous application and peer-reviewed evaluation is based on processes and outcomes. Achieving the highest level, Gold, signifies an effective and systematic approach to policies, procedures and processes that include:

  • engagement of staff and key stakeholders
  • fact-based evaluation strategies for continuous process improvement
  • performance measures that meet or exceed relevant benchmarks

According to the AACN, the Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care make patient outcomes better. Units that receive this international recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.

“It is extremely rewarding for the hard work of the MSICU team to be recognized by the AACN in this way,” said Joyce Fenuta, Program Director of Specialized Complex Care for St. Michael’s. “The MSICU has paved the way for other units at the hospital to embark on their own Beacon journey. The comprehensive feedback provided by the reviewers will help the MSICU, and units across the hospital, continuously pursue excellence — in care for patients and families, and in the work environment for our staff.”

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 more than 29 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.

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