Left to right: Dr. Oliver Applegarth, clinical lead, VGH OR Renewal Project; Zarina Sajoo and Betty Murray, CEAN members; and John Filer, clinical project manager.

Patient, public input shaping VGH OR renewal

Since the VGH OR Renewal Project was announced in February 2017, VGH perioperative physicians, staff and support services colleagues have been working in earnest to design our new surgical suite for the third floor of Jim Pattison Pavilion North.

So far, more than 150 physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and other staff have participated in numerous meetings and exercises to shape the future of surgery at VGH. But they’re not alone.

Members of the VCH Community Engagement Advisory Network (CEAN) are participating too. Representing patients and families, these volunteers have begun providing input on a range of topics, including waiting rooms, wayfinding and signage, and admitting and registration processes.

VCH News sat down with three of the project’s six CEAN participants to learn more.

What is your VGH surgery story?

Betty Murray believes we can “move mountains” when we involve patients.

Betty Murray: I ended up in Emergency and had to have my gall bladder removed. While in hospital some other issues were diagnosed, which I was assured by the gerontologist, is not unusual. I was at VGH for two weeks. My daughter stayed with me the entire time and kept notes. With the six specialists who were coming and going it would have been confusing to remember what they had told me without those notes.

Zarina Sajoo: I had a hysterectomy in July 1998; the nurses were amazing. In summer 2016, I had brain surgery and my surgeon and anesthetist were both incredible. I was a nervous wreck, but it was an extremely positive experience. Everyone was so nice and polite. And, I returned home and I’m still alive!

Beth Rizzardo: I haven’t had surgery at VGH, but family members have. I bring more of a community perspective to the project.

What can we learn from listening to patients and families?

Betty: Patient partners bring a perspective that is slightly different from that of administration and professionals. Just by raising questions we’re encouraging others to see the project from a patient’s point of view and to ask themselves how decisions will affect patients.

Zarina: We want to be heard! It’s important to listen to what patients have to say. Little things matter.

Beth: A lot of details can be missed when you don’t take into consideration the perspectives of those who have, will and may use your services. Diverse opinions provide a comprehensive view of what’s needed. I know that other members have brought up things I would never have thought of.

Why volunteer for the VGH OR Renewal Project?

Beth Rizzardo says she feels honoured to be part of the VGH OR Renewal Project.

Betty: I love being on the ground floor of a developing project; it’s very energizing, and I enjoy working on a team. With all the details we’ve reviewed, I’ve started to visualize the outcome. I think the suggestions we’re making can reduce the anxiety and worry of people who are awaiting an operation.

Zarina: I’m an RN and have worked in ORs before [Lions Gate and Shaughnessy Hospitals, as well as a hospital in London, England]. I was interested to see the layouts and everything is perfect: 16 new ORs—that’s mind-boggling.

Beth: I’m doing my master’s degree in health research and wanted to see things from a different perspective. This project caught my attention because of my interest in public health and how we can all contribute to making improvements. I thought it would be a creative project and it’s also proved to be fun.

How has your experience on the project  been so far?

Zarina Sajoo, a retired RN, raves about her VGH surgical experience.

Betty: I enjoyed meeting the architects who answered all our questions. The clinical project manager John Filer and the communications lead Heather Prime have been great to work with; they’ve been very supportive. I appreciate that they really listen and I can tell that they’ve incorporated some of our feedback.

Zarina: Anything we’ve said has been written down — good or bad. All our opinions have been listened to. It’s been very positive and I feel privileged and lucky to be chosen to be on this committee.

Beth: It’s been great; I’ve felt very involved. It’s a hands-on and cooperative atmosphere. We’ve worked with blueprints and layouts. We did a wayfinding exercise that really put us in the shoes of those who will use the services. I feel like our suggestions are valued and I’ve noticed our feedback being incorporated into ideas.

Read next week’s issue of VCH News to meet more CEAN members volunteering on the VGH OR Renewal Project.

Learn more

VGH OR Renewal Project Bulletin – March 2018

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