CEAN member Lori Pederson (second from left) shares her ideas for the new surgery patient and family waiting room to be built at VGH.

Seeing the hospital through new eyes

Lori Pederson speaks from experience. A lot of experience.

“I was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis,” she says. “My first operation was at VGH in 1976 when I was 15. I was the youngest person in the world at the time to have a double hip replacement.”

Altogether, Lori has had 23 surgeries; more than half were performed at VGH.

Today she’s a member of the VCH Community Engagement Advisory Network (CEAN), adding her voice to the extensive consultation underway for the VGH OR Renewal Project and the construction of a new perioperative suite on the third floor of Jim Pattison Pavilion (JPP) North.

And, like other CEAN members, Lori has helped the VGH OR Renewal Project Team see the hospital experience through the eyes of patients and families.

Learning from lived experience

From waiting rooms, to wayfinding and signage, to admitting and registration processes, CEAN volunteers have begun providing input on opportunities to reduce the stress on surgical patients and their loved ones.

“I mobilize in a wheelchair part of the time and there are profound barriers to having surgery for people with disabilities,” says Lori. “Just getting to the hospital for 6 am is a challenge.”

Ashley Hultman describes navigating a hospital as “overwhelming.”

In hospital, Lori has faced a lack of accessible changing room facilities, a lack of privacy in a big, noisy recovery room and a lack of storage for her wheelchair and CPAP machine. “My wheelchair has gotten lost every single time,” she says.

“When you’re already having massive and complex surgery, all these other issues make for a lot of anxiety. People with severe disabilities and illness need some assistance all the way through the surgical process.”

Ashley Hultman, another CEAN member, doesn’t use a wheelchair but she’s also felt challenged navigating a hospital.

“A friend was in and out of VGH for a few months for a liver transplant. I visited him about 15 times, and it was overwhelming trying to know where to go and how to get there. Given how easy it is to get lost, that was one more challenge to an already stressful experience,” she says.

Listening with open minds

John Filer, clinical project manager, says listening to patients and families will enhance care.

Participating in the VGH OR Renewal Project has been “awesome,” says Ashley. “I’ve enjoyed meeting other people with different perspectives: people who are older or who have different mobility. When you talk to patients and family members, as well as the working professionals, you get the full picture.”

John Filer, clinical project manager, couldn’t agree more.

“We’ve already learned a great deal from CEAN members,” he says. “We’re identifying opportunities and understanding patient preferences. CEAN input has also validated many of our design decisions, such as additional space for wheelchair parking and patient bays with floor-to-ceiling walls to provide more privacy and comfort before and after surgery.

“We’ve only just begun,” he adds, “and we’ll continue to listen with open minds.”

Read last 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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