April 5, 2011
Romeo Delangis had to wake up at 6:30 a.m. Monday and eat his breakfast an hour earlier than usual.
One of the 78-year-old Caledonia man's five children — daughter Michelle — had to come to his room at McMaster University Medical Centre on Sunday and pack up his clothes, shaving kit, toiletries. His slippers and glasses were packed in a plastic bag that sat on his bed.
Delangis was one of 63 adult patients Mac transferred to the Juravinski, Hamilton General and St. Joseph's hospitals. The move was part of Hamilton Health Science's Access to the Best Care (ABC) plan that includes closing MUMC's emergency department and all in-patient care to adults effective Monday.
Monday morning also marked the first day the new urgent care centre opened on Main Street West. By mid-afternoon the centre, which is intended to treat non-life threatening injuries and illnesses, had seen 23 patients.
The big move started at 8 a.m. sharp, with rows of awaiting stretchers, nurses paramedics and ambulances at the main lobby. Transfers were timed every four minutes and the last patient was transferred out at 12:05 p.m.
Health Care Relocations, a Peterborough company that also handled the Juravinksi move last year, will be paid roughly $150,000 for their work.
Like the 62 other patients, Delangis's transfer team included a nurse in charge of his care at MUMC, a nurse that accompanied him on the ambulance ride and a nurse who took over his care at the new hospital. His family had to wait until 5 p.m. to visit him in his new room.
At 8:30 a.m. he was transferred from his bed on the fourth floor of MUMC, taken on a stretcher downstairs to an awaiting ambulance and driven to the Juravinski Hospital, where he was settled in a fourth-floor room with a view of construction, and on clear days, the escarpment.
He said the ride was bumpy and he joked it seemed to take so long that they should have had time to stop at Tim Hortons for a coffee.
"I don't think they could have done it any better," Delangis said.
He was well informed of the process and never felt nervous, he said.
Since his wife died a few years ago, the grandfather of 11 lives alone in an apartment in Caledonia. After Christmas he started feeling very weak, so on Jan. 8 he decided to go to emergency. Doctors discovered a mass in his colon. Then they found an aneurysm in his chest.
He was transferred to the General for the aneurysm surgery, then to MUMC for the colon.
Delangis said he's starting to feel better and he wants to go home. But it will be another week at least.
"This is my first time in hospital in 55 years," he said.
But Delangis said he's happy and comfortable to be at the Juravinski — two of his kids were born there and he's been many times as a volunteer driver for a senior's assistance program.
Brenda Flaherty, HHS executive vice-president of clinical operations said the move happened smoothly because of planning and teamwork.
"Right from the beginning it's going like clockwork," she said.
For more than a week all Hamilton hospitals have been meeting to co-ordinate care to minimize some of the acutely ill patients from having to go through a move.
They saw a significant drop in the number of adult patients that came into their ER in the days leading up to the controversial change.
"It's bittersweet, for many of the teams at the McMaster site they have worked hard together for years and years and years," she said. "Some of those team members will be relocated together up at other sites, but for some they've had different relocations."
This sentiment was very clear as the last intensive care unit patient was rolled out just before 11 a.m.
"It's an emotional day," said David St. Amant, MUMC's outgoing ICU manager who moved into the same position at the Juravinski.
"It's a challenging journey."
It's fitting that the attending physician for that last shift in the ICU was Dr. Kieran Killian, the same doctor that opened the ward nearly four decades ago, he said.
Matt Scaum, a register nurse in the ICU, worked extensively on preparing for the move. He too is going to the Juravinski.
The day was busy, but everybody was ready to go, he said. In the end ICU had only four patients to transfer, since two others were transferred over the weekend.
At the urgent care centre, clinical manager Kelly O'Connor said she is encouraged by patient behaviour. They saw all age range of patients and a vast range of illnesses and injuries — everything from colds, to rashes to strained muscles and joints.
"People are getting it," she said.
Amanda Canning strained her back and was one of the first patients at the centre Monday morning. She also came back in the afternoon for an ultrasound.
"If I went to the ER, I'd be waiting all day," she said, adding that the centre is beautiful and clean.
About the move
- 97 in-patient beds moved from MUMC to the Juravinski, Hamilton General and St. Joseph's hospitals
- 63 patients moved from MUMC to three other hospitals
- 2,000 pieces of equipment moved
- 19 transport vehicles and 15 teams of four to 14 co-ordinated the move
- 19 MUMC doctors moving
- 59 staff to the General; 185 staff to the Juravinski; five staff to St. Joseph's; four staff to new Urgent Care Centre
- 19 health care staff are coming from other hospitals to MUMC