Guelph General uses accreditation, standards to create separate ALC unit during COVID

July 29, 2020

Accreditation and standards create a solid base to build upon in an emergency situation, says Guelph General Hospital.

When cases of COVID-19 began to appear in Guelph, Ont., this spring, Guelph General Hospital acted quickly, creating a separate ward to get alternate level of care (ALC) patients out of harm’s way.

Jenny Griffin, Director of Perioperative Services at Guelph General, located just outside of Toronto, Ont., explains that when day surgeries were put on hold as a result of the recent pandemic, the hospital moved to create a new 27 bay ALC unit.

“We were able to pull that unit together in less than five days,” Griffin said. “The idea was that we wanted to get our most vulnerable patients out of the other wards as much as possible.”

Guelph Hospital staff members who worked on the new ALC unit.

Griffin notes that ALC patients are typically older in age and are more at risk when it comes to COVID-19. “These are also patients who are more at risk of falls, and there are different behaviours [to address] as well,” she said.

Griffin adds that various hospital teams worked together to get the new ALC unit up and running.

She said the day surgery team stepped up from a daily schedule to around the clock operation of the ALC unit. Additionally, the Professional Practice team assisted with training for the unit.

“It was a really collaborative experience and people took pride in that,” Griffin says. “This unit was the shining star in our day. The teams worked together so closely.”

Julie Wilson, Director of Quality and Professional Practice, notes that Guelph General Hospital has considered creating a unit that is tailored to the needs of seniors for some time.

“With COVID-19, there were so many people coming up with incredible ideas so quickly,” Wilson said. “It was nice to try it out and see how lovely it was.”

Wilson notes that Accreditation Canada (AC)’s accreditation program, which is based on Health Standards Organization (HSO)’s standards, is valuable in a crisis situation as it provides best practices that are easy to follow.

“In a crisis situation, things are changing quickly,” Wilson said. “You can use the standards as a baseline when you’re making decisions about all the other things that are changing.” She adds: “It’s like a recipe. All of the information is there and it’s easy to get your hands on.”

Griffin says Guelph General Hospital received lots of positive feedback about the separate unit from colleagues, as well as patients and their families.

“We created this other unit to pull these patients out and have them be as safe as possible,” she said. “I’m so proud of how closely the teams worked and how quickly, and how safe and what a positive experience it was.”

Guelph Hospital ALC unit staff members.