Reflections from Osler’s Global Health India Trip

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Forging close partnerships abroad

Osler Health System’s (Osler) Global Health team recently returned from an historic trip to Punjab, where they formalized partnerships with three different hospitals in the region. The eight-member team returned to Toronto at the end of April after two intensive weeks in the northern Indian state – exhausted and exhilarated by the experience. Launched in June 2014, the Global Health Program is the only one of its kind at a community hospital in Ontario, possibly Canada, and is part of Osler’s philosophy to ‘go beyond’ its borders and contribute and learn on a global scale. Dr. Naveed Mohammad, Osler’s Vice-President of Medical Affairs and the Physician Lead for the Global Health Program, says there is no doubt it is doing just that.

The hospitals were selected following a 2015 exploratory tour by five Osler team members to identify health care organizations that best fit with the objectives of the Global Health Program, which is funded by generous donations from the community to Osler Foundation. Two of the hospitals – Dayanand Medical College & Hospital (DMCH) and Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Ayurvedic Medical College & Hospital (SKSS) – are in the Ludhiana District. The last – Indraprastha Apollo Hospital – is located in New Delhi and is part of the multi-national hospital chain. Sharing their on-the-ground experiences in India The 2016 trip may be over, but the work is just beginning. And an important part of this work is educating people about the extraordinary on-the-ground experience in India and vision for the Global Health Program going forward.

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One of the first questions that is often asked about the Global Health Program is why India and why the Punjab region? It was deliberately chosen as the first destination for the Global Health Program because it is the homeland of so many of those who live in the communities served by Osler’s three hospitals – Brampton Civic, Etobicoke General and, very soon, the new Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness. According to recent statistics, nearly 40 per cent of Brampton is South Asian, with Sikhs making up almost 20 per cent of the population.

At every hospital, Osler team members equally contributed to and learned from the clinical environment. At DMCH, for example, Kim Maas O’Hearn, Clinical Services Manager, Emergency Medicine, shared some of Osler’s best practices on hand hygiene and introduced the practice of staff huddles to her nursing counterparts. Wendy Ross, Clinical Services Manager, Mental Health & Addictions, and Shubhjit Minhas, Geriatric Mental Health Nurse, were struck by the important role of family in the care process – an observation that is sparking new dialogue about how this can be more effectively accommodated here at home. The Osler team members representing mental health and addictions participated directly in inpatient rounds and case conferences, gaining a better understanding of the tremendous stigma around mental health and addiction that exists in the Punjab region and across India and how it influences patient care in both countries. “I will definitely think more about … bias related to gender, culture or mental illness, the availability of caring relationships and how all of these factors affect my patient,” said Dr. David Koczerginski, Chief of Psychiatry and Medical Director of Mental Health & Addictions, when asked how what he learned on the trip will influence the way he provides care at Osler. – CINEWS

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