Pandemic response highlights strength of IWK’s interprofessional practice

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photos by Scott Thieu

You don’t need to dig very deep to find research and evidence that supports interprofessional collaboration in health care. Very simply it boils down to the old adage that ‘two heads are better than one.’ When colleagues from different training backgrounds and teams come together, often they can achieve great, and sometimes better, things.

Interprofessional practice already happens routinely at the IWK but as part of the health centre’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become absolutely critical.

Examples of this type of collaboration are everywhere. EIBI staff are coming to the University Avenue site to work as screeners. Staff from across care areas are being trained and reassigned to work in the now divided Emergency Department. A whole new team has been formed to staff the Pandemic Response Unit. And in the Primary Assessment Centre, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and nurses are working side by side along with countless other colleagues from physicians to unit aides to housekeepers to perform that vital function.

“The assessment centre is a model of interprofessional practice that I think can serve as a foundation for how we work together when this is all over,” says Mike Sangster, professional practice leader, Physiotherapy. “Within just a few working days, a training program led by an amazing nurse, Joanne Gallant, was implemented for the physiotherapists to ensure competency in the process. This led to a volunteer roster of physiotherapists willing to work in the centre that numbered 13 – all volunteering without hesitation.”

Across the IWK individuals are stepping up and stepping out of their comfort zone to ensure we can continue to be there for the patients and families we serve.

“I am so proud of the individuals who have stepped into new roles with a very positive attitude,” says Shauna Best, manager, Children’s Health Program and Primary Assessment Centre. “Although many were very apprehensive to do the unknown, they have put patients, families and their communities first to ensure everyone can receive the very best of care.”

“It doesn’t make a difference what role they play, they are all important,” says Mary Thibeault, manager, Learning Team and Primary Assessment Centre. “They work mutually and collaboratively to fill the need and do so with enthusiasm and extraordinary caring.”