VPSA board and staff meet monthly with VCH senior leaders. While the transition to CST was the main focus of the December 8 meeting, the group also discussed policy development and facilities for lactation at VCH, and was provided an update on the Special Services Committee’s site review and reporting process.
Dr. Raheem Kherani, chair of the VPSA CST Task Group, gave an overview of the ways the initiative has been able to support physicians during the first month of the VGH Cerner implementation. This included lunches and snacks in the VMDAS Hub for Engagement and Wellness, weekly pulse surveys, and an optimization session offered via Zoom. Going forward, VPSA will provide meals for department and division optimization sessions. This is in addition to continuing to collect feedback to bring to VCH’s CST leaders. VPSA will also continue to work to build awareness of tools and supports that are available to improve the medical staff’s experience with CST.
The weekly survey will be promoted once more in the December 11 Checkup, after which it will continue to be available but will only be reported on sporadically. Dr. Kherani noted that the survey provided an opportunity to physicians to express their concerns as well as tracking increasing confidence in using the system as time progressed.
Co-Senior Medical Director, VA, Dr. Vinay Dhingra’s focus is on continuing to support anyone who might be struggling with the change as well as looking ahead to UBC Hospital’s CST activation in the next six to nine months. This has been a big change for our medical staff and it is working out well overall.
VCH leaders expressed their appreciation for the physician engagement measures that have made a significant difference in the implementation. They acknowledged the transition hasn’t been perfect, but it is an ongoing journey. Given time and resources, Dr. Dhingra hopes to provide additional support to people who are not using the system as well as they could be and provide additional training and tips.
The group spent time discussing further ways to support physicians finding the transition difficult.
VCH Lactation Policy Development and Facilities
VCH’s Regional Director Medical for DEI, Dr. Joy Masuhara, VPSA President Dr. Alison Harris, Dr. Sylvie Galindo who works at Lions Gate Hospital, and Salima Noormohamed, VCH’s Regional Leader of Physician Engagement and Program Development, have been working on this initiative for a few months. It came about, explained Dr. Masuhara, from physician and staff requests; it was also an issue raised during women physician focus groups held in 2020.
The question the group is addressing is should space for and policies to support breastfeeding and expression of milk be available to staff, medical staff, residents and medical students in VCH work environments?
Dr. Masuhara reviewed the current laws and legislation as well as the documents VCH has that reference a commitment to ensuring families and staff are able to breastfeed or express breast milk at all its sites. She also went over the current facilities available including a dedicated lactation room for surgical staff and medical staff in the new OR space at VGH and a lactation room in the Koerner Pavilion at UBC Hospital.
At this time, lactating physicians returning from a maternity/parental leave must identify their own space for expressing breast milk, request scheduling flexibility to pump, and explain expressing breast milk to their colleagues. According to a 2020 study, the biggest barrier to breastfeeding for physicians is a lack of structural support in terms of space, storage, scheduling, and policies. Time constraints for expressing milk was the second most important barrier. A lack of colleague support was common.
Salima Noormohamed outlined proposed solutions including that VCH commit to resources and provide lactation accommodation for all staff , medical staff and learners returning to work after maternity/parental leave. The primary issue for VCH is space; accessibility and policy are also concerns.
The group is working to identify rooms that can provide a quiet space with a private door that locks/has key card access, appropriate signage on the door, comfortable chairs with armrests, electrical outlets near chairs, a fridge or cooler to store milk at a regulated temperature, and a sink to wash pumping supplies and hands.
Given that physicians working in the OR and Emergency Department can have difficulty leaving their work areas to access a dedicated lactation room, the group is looking into free-standing lactation pods and wireless pumps.
VCH and VPSA strongly supports these goals and looks forward to learning more.
SSC Site Review and Reporting Process Update
Doctors of BC Engagement Partner Ronnie Hamman gave a brief overview of the Specialist Service Committee’s site review and reporting process. This is an annual opportunity to check in with medical staff associations, health authorities, and the SSC Facility Engagement Working Group to review progress on the intended outcomes of the Facility Engagement Initiative that funds 80 groups around the province including VPSA.
The goals of the review include supporting discussions on successes and challenges over the past year and how these learnings will inform MSA priorities in 2023/24.
The group will meet again on January 12, 2023 to discuss how VCH and VPSA can collaborate on providing more wellness opportunities for residents.