Senior leaders endorse new task group addressing substance use disorder

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VPSA/VMDAS board and staff meet regularly with VCH senior leaders to develop a collaborative relationship between medical staff and the health authority. The November meeting included discussion about new ways VPSA can support physician recruitment and retention and an update on the VCH Medical Staff EDI Committee’s strategic plan. A new VPSA task group—Substance Use Disorder Patient and Provider Experience—was also introduced.

Substance Use Disorder Patient and Provider Experience Task Group

People with substance use disorder make up a significant number of patients admitted to VGH. Substance use disorders and related mental illnesses, behavioural disorders, and stigmatization can present tremendous challenges and barriers to hospital-based care for both patients and staff. These can lead to poor patient experiences, worse outcomes, added medical expenses, and provider workload, frustration, and stress.

To help address this, Drs. Adam Chodkiewicz, Jan Hayek, and Shane Arishenkoff presented a proposal to VPSA’s board in October to create a new task force: the Substance Use Disorder Patient and Provider Experience Task Group. The group will have its first meeting this month and intends to finalize its terms of reference in January. At that time, there will be a call for expression of interest for new members. The group will select its projects and develop a work plan to initiate these early in the new year.

Dr. Chodkiewicz, an addiction psychiatrist, discussed the purpose of the new task group to VCH leaders attending the meeting. It was widely embraced as a positive step forward. President and CEO Vivian Eliopoulos, Vice President, Vancouver Acute Services, Michelle de Moor, and Senior Medical Directors Drs. Vinay Dhingra and Ladan Sadrehashemi all lent their support. They also had suggestions for ways the task group can collaborate with VCH leaders to address this important issue.

The task group’s mandate is to improve the care environment and experience for patients with substance use disorder and the staff providing their care. Its objectives are:

  • Empower and support VCH staff to provide the best possible environment for care for patients with substance use disorder.
  • Develop and support the implementation of practical strategies and initiatives through a collaborative multidisciplinary approach.
  • Initiate and evaluate projects that support the group’s mandate. These may include:
    • Access to TV in hospital for all persons with substance use disorder.
    • Access to snack foods.
    • Education and training initiatives (like Indigenous cultural safety training, educational opportunities for trauma-informed care, and better understandings of how best to support people struggling with addiction).
    • Animal-assisted (pet) therapy/visitation.

VPSA members interested in joining this task group should keep an eye on upcoming issues of the weekly Checkup newsletter. Task group recruitment information will be posted there.

EDI strategic plan update

VCH’s Regional Director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Joy Masuhara, who also co-chairs the VCH Medical Staff Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, reviewed the committee’s origins and how the group’s new strategic plan shifts its focus to more of an advisory and collaborative role interacting with structures that were not in place before. The committee’s structure will remain more or less the same. However, the Meaningful Metrics Sub-Committee will be dissolved; metrics will be built into all areas.

Dr. Masuhara emphasized the committee will continue to educate and raise awareness. It will also try to reach out to those new to EDI through new methods. Its focus areas will be inclusive leadership and creating a safe culture.

Ways to support physician recruitment and retention

As detailed at the October meeting, Doctors of BC has changed the Facility Engagement Initiatives funding guidelines. These now allow more recruitment and retention activities designed to complement rather than duplicate health authority resources.

Acting on the new funding guidelines, VPSA intends to develop a survey for Vancouver Medical Advisory Committee members asking for their priorities. VMDAS/VPSA Vice President Dr. Ka Wai Cheung presented a list of draft questions to the meeting and requested input. The survey is designed to learn what activities and resources departments and divisions already have in place to support recruitment and retention. It will also seek to determine initiatives that would be valued, should funding allow.

Next meeting

The group next meets on December 14. If you have an item you wish to be brought forward at these meetings, please contact VPSA Operations Director Andrew Pinfold.  

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