Dr. Daneman says more rigorous research is needed on curbing unnecessary antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, at Sunnybrook and other hospitals. “One thing we learned through these quality improvement efforts is that this is a very young field and there’s a lot still unknown out there,” he says. “One of the goals of the program is to advance the science of antimicrobial stewardship to help not only our institution, but other programs around the world trying to introduce this concept in their hospitals.” •
SPREADING THE SEEDS OF KNOWLEDGE
When nurses specialized in cancer care visited Kenya, they learned that cancer in the local culture is often viewed as a curse.
The Odette Cancer Centre oncology nursing group of Kathy Beattie, Angela Boudreau, Marg Fitch and Sherrol Palmer-Wickham traveled to Nairobi and Eldoret. Their work, and the work of others at Sunnybrook, is helping to transform health care globally.
“We went to Kenya to help be a catalyst for moving things forward from within the system. We gained profound respect for these nurses who deliver care despite significant challenges,” says Kathy Beattie, supervisor of the Chemotherapy Unit at the Odette Cancer Centre.
The group, who went as part of International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care twinning programs, saw how resourceful the local nurses are. For instance, there is no funding for free access to the Pap test. Instead, local nurses conduct acetic acid tests and visual examinations, a low-resource and moderately effective screening method for cervical cancer.
The group met with health-care professionals at rural and urban facilities and local outreach clinics. They worked with staff from Aga Khan University Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to develop chemotherapy workshops for local nurses.
The group also learned about how cultural factors affect patient care.
“We learned that cancer is viewed as a curse and factored this sensitivity into our patient-care discussions with the participants,” says Sherrol, manager of Ambulatory Clinics and the Chemotherapy Unit. “For a woman diagnosed, her personal ‘value’ is affected, as is the value of her family and the marriage-ability of her daughters. The woman and her family are viewed as cursed. Often she will not risk telling anyone about her illness and does not seek treatment.”
For many of these reasons, cervical cancer, a highly preventable disease in North America, remains prevalent in African nations. •
FROM GRIEF TO GIVING
‘You don’t have to be alone.”
That’s the message Jennifer Bassett has for those struggling with the loss of a baby, as she and her husband Cameron Sievert were in May, 2005. Their daughter Olivia had developed a diaphragmatic hernia and died shortly after being born at 30 weeks, weighing only 2 lbs 3 oz.
“You’ve had a loss, and it’s okay to grieve — in fact, you’re supposed to grieve,” Jennifer says. “But you don’t have to do it alone.”
Jennifer and Cameron have thrown their support behind Sunnybrook’s Perinatal Loss Clinic with a donation of $25,000. The clinic will support women through their immediate physical recovery after the loss of an infant, and guide families through the next challenges, such as planning a funeral and interacting with family and friends. Families will find help in managing both their grief and relationships.
While she calls the care and service she received “phenomenal,” Jennifer also points to holes in the system that will be filled with the Perinatal Loss Clinic. The clinic will offer mothers and fathers — equal partners in this tragedy — a place for support and attention, and to deal with the loss in their own way.
“It’s not just about the mother; my husband went through agony, too, as did the grandparents and the aunts and the whole family,” says Jennifer. “It equally affects the family, and after people receive this sort of devastating news, you need to take them somewhere and let them take it all in, have a cry and hug in privacy.”
The clinic will also support important research into the causes of pregnancy loss, and will help develop new treatments. It will provide a place for consultations with counsellors and other health-care professionals, and a private room for family discussions.
In the end, Cameron adds, it will help families move on to the next phase in their lives.
“Life will get better; it’s just very hard at the time to see that,” says Cameron, whose family with Jennifer now includes Mackenzie Olivia, 5, and William Bassett, 4. “We now have a beautiful family, so we’re really trying to make this clinic a hopeful place for other families.” •¬¬
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