SFMH is prepared for COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) has been extremely busy preparing for a potential surge in patients who are sick with fever and respiratory complaints.

“While much of what we hear is about how the virus spreads in larger cities, we are unlikely to escape its effects locally. We need to be fully prepared, and SFMH has pulled together to do just that. It’s imperative to keep our staff and physicians safe while continuing to provide top-notch emergency and inpatient care. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time. It’s incredibly important work.” said Dr. Jason Malinowski, SFMH Chief of Staff.

Preparation measures include the cancellation or postponement of outpatient services. Also, every person who comes to SFMH, whether staff or those in search of medical care, is being screened at the front door. Anyone who is deemed at higher risk due to symptoms is being assessed in a separate area.

Anyone who is coming to the hospital for prescription renewals is asked to speak directly with their pharmacy or their primary care provider—or, if they don’t have one, to ask their pharmacy to fax a prescription request to the Madawaska Valley Family Health Team, which will then be in contact with the patient.

It’s important to note that anyone who needs emergency attention at SFMH will be seen and not turned away.

With the severe restrictions to no visitors other than essential/compassionate reasons, we are providing inpatients with devices so they can connect with loved ones. We understand the hardship that our patients go through when they aren’t allowed visitors.

Currently, the hospital has adequate supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) suc as gowns, gloves, and masks, but due to global supply issues, depending on the duration of this outbreak, we anticipate that we will need more supplies as time goes on. If you have spare masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, or disinfectant wipes, we ask that you contact us at (613) 756-3045 ext 229. Thank you to those who have already donated supplies.
The public is also asked to do its part to reduce community spread of the virus so that the hospital’s resources continue to meet the demands.

“We want to remind you of the things you can do to help us—such as physical distancing and frequent, thorough hand washing and not touching your face. Please isolate yourself if you have mild symptoms, but stay socially connected to each other, because it’s easy to lose connection when we’re all physically separated,” noted Malinowski.

Finally, SFMH wants to reassure the community that it is doing okay in this incredibly stressful time.

“I am proud of our staff and physicians at St. Francis. I am not surprised at their leadership and focus on what is best for our patients, families and for their work colleagues. These past number of days we have taken strategic steps to stabilize the organization. We are focusing on the most important areas of the hospital including: clinical care, our human capital, supplies and equipment and communication. These are truly unprecedented times and I believe we are well positioned, working with our partners throughout the system, to continue providing care and support to our community,” stated Randy Penney, SFMH CEO.

Mental Health – What’s Love Got To Do With It?

What’s love got to do with mental health? The answer is a lot. Not only romantic love and the love of family and close friends, but also the mutual support we see in caring and healthy communities. During hard times, our connection with others can help us stay healthy. This connection, called “social inclusion” by mental health researchers, is recognized as a protective factor against mental illness.

However, love and support alone are not enough. Mental suffering is sometimes rooted in experiences such as violence, sexual abuse, poverty, social isolation, or homelessness. Grieving, living with chronic pain, or receiving a diagnosis of a serious illness can bring on anxiety and depression. Many of us will experience hard times and periods of darkness that challenge our ability to cope. The Canadian Mental Health Commission reports that “in any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.” This statistic alone – 1 in 5 people – should shift some of the stigma and discrimination that attaches to people living with a mental illness.

In Killaloe, Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre provides primary care by a variety of health professionals who support mental and physical health. Administered by St. Francis Memorial Hospital, the Rainbow Valley team includes physicians, registered nurse, nurse practitioners, administrative support, and a social worker. Through integrated partnerships, community members can access services of a visiting diabetes nurse educator and dietitian, a respiratory therapist, an outreach worker, or a community mental health counsellor. Or they might book an appointment with the massage therapist and chiropractor who rent space at the clinic. Consistent with the small community it services, many clients know each other and the waiting room is often filled with lively conversation.

Rainbow Valley CHC is an example of a holistic, community-based health service.

Most of our staff and clients live in and around the surrounding areas. This means that we see each other outside the healthcare context: at the library or grocery store, at a school concert or community event. Staff and clients have opportunities to view each other as three-dimensional people connected to jobs, family, and community. It widens the range of interactions that take place at the health centre: we are all complicated human beings muddling through life in more or less the same ways. This is one of the advantages of community-based organizations. There are also advantages to living in a rural area with a tradition of neighbourliness. By watching out for each other and providing support in times of need, we can all contribute to social inclusion and a sense of belonging. Love and neighbourliness are not all we need to support mental health, but they definitely help.

Linda Archibald, MSW and the Rainbow Valley CHC Team.

Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre Offers Mindfulness Program

This article provides information on one of the primary care positions at the community health centre, the Nurse Practitioner, and on an innovative community program being offered by Nurse Practitioner Heidi Krebsz.

Community Health Centres are non-profit, community-governed organizations that provide primary health care, health promotion and community development services using multi-disciplinary teams of health care providers who are paid by salary rather than through a fee-for-service system.

Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre (RVCHC) has been providing care to clients since 2004. While originally established to serve the local population of Killaloe and surrounding area, it has grown from one physician, nurse and social worker, to a robust healthcare team with close to 700 rostered clients from multiple municipalities.

At RVCHC, our team is comprised of Physicians, Nurses, Social Worker, Respiratory Therapist, Administration, Clerical support and Nurse Practitioners.

A Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has completed additional specialized training in primary health care. Nurse practitioners work independently and do not require supervision from a physician. However, the team approach of CHCs allows for easy consultation between practitioners when issues arise that are outside of scope of practice or area of expertise.  Nurse Practitioners care for patients with many chronic medical conditions as well as providing preventative, maternal-child health care and treatment of acute, episodic illness.  NPs can prescribe medications, order lab and other diagnostic testing (with some limitations).  Our Nurse Practitioners have their own client practices and provide education and health promotion community services.

A new service RVCHC will be offering beginning in September is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program.  During this 8 week program (facilitated by Nurse Practitioner Heidi Krebsz) participants will learn many different mindfulness based practices that can help reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve focus and concentration, and help you feel more at ease and content, and approach life’s challenges from a different perspective.  This program may be beneficial for those experiencing stress related to work, family, chronic health conditions, chronic pain, mental health issues etc. and can assist with the development of positive coping strategies.

The program is open to everyone. A 1 hr information session is required before registering for the program. If you are interested in finding out more about these sessions, or any of our programs or services, contact us at 613-757-0004.


Imagine Feeling Great Senior Fitness Program

During the recent Barry’s Bay and Area Seniors Home Support (BBASHS) Volunteer Luncheon, Rainbow Valley CHC was recognized and thanked for being an integrated partner in the Imagine Feeling Great Senior Fitness Program. 

“The partnership with BBASHS has been tremendously beneficial for seniors in our area” says Joanne Pecarskie, Manager of Health Services for RVCHC.

The program, which runs twice a week in both Killaloe and Barry’s Bay, is allowing seniors in our area to stay fit and remain in their homes longer.

“RVCHC would not have the resources to offer this program on our own so we are incredibly lucky BBASHS administers and operates it so well, allowing us to partner with them in any way we can” says Pecarskie.

If you are interested in participating in the senior fitness program, or thinking of training to become a certified instructor, please contact Kathy Bloomquist at 613-757-2827



New Integration Initiative News Release

“On behalf of the board of directors of St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH), Chair Jasna Boyd is pleased to announce a successful new integration initiative supporting the delivery of community health care services. On November 1, Rainbow Valley Community Health Centre Point of Access (Rainbow Valley) located in Killaloe became fully integrated with SFMH. The integration between Rainbow Valley and SFMH is the first full integration of a Community Health Centre (CHC) with a hospital in the province. This integration will provide sustainability for Rainbow Valley improving care and services for members of local communities.”

Click Here to open the Media Release.

Community Health Week Media Release

“Ontario faces major challenges ensuring the best possible health and well-being for everyone in this province. To meet these challenges, it is essential that we focus on preventing people from getting sick in the first place. This means more services that prevent chronic diseases, more services that support seniors to age at home, more community-wide initiatives that get at the root causes of illness –causes like poverty, lack of education and social isolation. The interprofessional team at Rainbow Valley CHC in Killaloe works with the community to address those issues.”

Click Here to open the Community Health Week Media Release.

Rainbow Valley Communique October 2012

“In November 2011, Rainbow Valley CHC voluntarily integrated with St. Francis Memorial Hospital. Since that integration, Rainbow Valley has achieved several successes including:
– Recruitment of three physicians—Dr. Pil Joo, Dr. Robyn Mossman and Dr. Patrick MacGillivray
– Recruitment of a Nurse Practitioner—Derek Frew
– Renovation to clinic space to enhance the capacity to provide primary health care to a greater number of community residents”

Click Here to open the Rainbow Valley Communique October 2012 PDF.