Dr. Krym recently received a University of Toronto Faculty Award for Excellence for long-standing contributions to global health education and leadership in emergency medicine. The award recognizes her efforts toward improving access to emergency care where resources are scarce.
“I am very committed to sustainable health-care development projects in poor and middle-income countries,” Dr. Krym says. “It is a way for me to give back and help implement safe emergency care systems.”
Dr. Krym has worked as an emergency medicine consultant and educator in
Nepal, Ethiopia, Romania, with the World Health Organization in Tanzania and as an international health consultant in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.
She led a capacity-building and sustainability project at a mission hospital in western Tanzania as part of a long-term health-care project to improve infrastructure, promote self-reliance and sustainability and augment education for hospital staff and the surrounding villages. The project has raised more than $350,000 and led to securing water rights to a local river and building a small hydro-electric dam, income-generating projects, educational programs for staff and construction of
“My approach to working with my international colleagues is to assist them to improve and add to their knowledge and skills,” she says. “I believe the ‘train-the-trainer’ approach is the key to sustainability and making improvements to the health-care system that remain long after you leave.” – Laura Bristow
THE MENTAL-HEALTH NURSE
A CAREER OF COMPASSIONATE CRISIS CARE
For 40 years, Margaret McDermott has been helping patients get through a very difficult time. “When someone arrives in the emergency department and is experiencing a mental-health crisis, they are scared,” says Margaret, a mental-health nurse. “Our priority is to make them comfortable and to give them as much information as possible.”
Margaret worked in the inpatient unit for 27 years, providing care for mental-health patients staying in the hospital for extended periods. In 1999, she moved to the new role of mental-health crisis nurse in the Psychiatric Emergency Services team. Having dedicated mental-health nurses in the ER has been key to providing a more positive hospital experience for patients.
What characteristics do you need in her job? “Respect, compassion, introspection, good interpersonal skills and solid knowledge about mental illness are very important,” she says. A sense of humour is a plus, she adds.
Now, set to retire, Margaret reflects on the changes she’s seen. Since she started at Sunnybrook in 1972, she’s seen a shift from psychotherapy to biological treatments, such as medications, and shorter hospital stays. “There is more of a focus on helping people stay in the community, rather than in institutions,” she says.
That’s not always possible, however. “I’ve known some patients for 25 years. Because mental illnesses are chronic, it gets harder for them to be self-sufficient and they come back to the hospital more often. It can be hard to see people at a similar age to you, with similar interests, lead such difficult lives.”
Margaret is moving to a new province to be closer to her grandchildren, but is not leaving her career behind. “I think I’d like to volunteer with a mental-health organization, or help people in need,” she says. “That’s where I feel most comfortable.” – Sybil Edmonds
COOKING UP A NEW APPROACH TO CANCER
A Sunnybrook oncologist AND HIS FORMER patient have joined forces to write the nutrition guide and cookbook the patient wishes she’d had during her cancer treatment. The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide & Cookbook includes tips on managing treatment side-effects, plus 150 recipes based on individual energy levels, appetite and skill level in the kitchen.
“Every patient or family of a patient with cancer should read this book,” says Dr. Neil Berinstein, senior oncologist at Odette Cancer Centre and a professor of Medicine/Oncology and Immunology at the University of Toronto. “It will also be of value to those without cancer looking for nutritional advice on how to avoid cancer. Other health-care professionals will also find this book helpful.”