NewsSeptember 2020

JGH nursing initiative wins award for helping cancer patients manage their symptoms

A team of nurses at the JGH has won an award for an initiative that helps cancer outpatients manage their symptoms more effectively and avoid preventable visits to the Emergency Department.

In presenting the award, Annick Leboeuf, a Council Member of the Montreal-Laval Branch of the Order of Nurses of Quebec, told members of the Outpatient Nursing Oncology team they should feel proud of having done so much for patients in the Segal Cancer Centre at the JGH.

At a brief ceremony on September 15 at the JGH, Ms. Leboeuf explained that the Close to the Heart Award for Innovation in Nursing recognizes the outstanding efforts of nurses whose work has had a major impact, while raising the esteem of the nursing profession.

She added that nine finalists were under consideration for the award, with the JGH team named as one of two recipients.

“It’s great to work with such a distinguished team,” Lucie Tremblay, Director of Nursing, said during the ceremony. “You’re making a real difference in the lives of your patients, and you’re serving as a model not only for nurses in the Montreal area, but for your colleagues throughout the province.”

The project, which was launched in 2018, is known as Hope and focuses on providing cancer outpatients with a prompt evaluation of their symptoms, so that an intervention can be made more quickly. (The initiative is more commonly known by its French name, ESPOIR, an acronym of Évaluation des symptômes des patients oncologiques pour intervention rapide.)

Thanks to Hope, patients with concerns about the symptoms and side-effects of their treatment can turn to:

  • an online video containing explanations, details and advice
  • a fact sheet with information and health tips about symptoms
  • a telephone hotline staffed by a nurse who performs triage and can help callers manage their symptoms
  • an Urgent Care Centre on the eighth floor of Pavilion E, where patients can get in‑person assistance, without having to go to the Emergency Department

As a result of Hope, the number of preventable trips to Emergency by cancer outpatients has decreased significantly, says Erin Cook, who is Co‑Director of Operations at the Segal Cancer Centre and Clinical Administrative Coordinator for Oncology and Cardiovascular Services.

The Hope initiative was developed and launched in 2018 under the leadership of Ms. Cook, who acknowledges there are instances when a cancer outpatient has no choice but to seek help in the Emergency Department.

However, she notes, there are many situations where the guidance of a nurse can result in effective help being provided more quickly and with less stress than an Emergency visit.

Even though the project is now an award winner, Ms. Cook says members of the Outpatient Nursing Oncology team hope to build on their success by personalizing the options to better meet patients’ needs. There are currently plans to implement programs that will enable patients at home to report their symptoms via an app.

“It’s very gratifying to receive an award,” she says, “but as nurses, our primary objective is to keep looking for new ways to make the patient experience even better.”

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