News

It takes a village

A letter from the Winnipeg Health Region

BY MILTON SUSSMAN
Winnipeg Health Region President & CEO
Wave, May / June 2016

Milton Sussman
Milton Sussman

Looking at the photograph of the smiling boy on the cover of this issue of Wave,  one is hard-pressed to imagine that just over a year ago he was in hospital fighting for his life.

But he was.

Logan Quatember and his father, Nik, were on their way home from a dance class in February of 2015 when the vehicle they were in was struck by a semi-trailer. The accident left the boy in a coma for 12 days with an assortment of serious injuries, including brain trauma. 

Fortunately, Logan was able to recover from these injuries. As our story points out, he is now back to leading a normal life, attending school and pursuing various interests, including a passion for dance.

That he is able to do so is testament to many things - his resilience, the support he received from family and friends, and, perhaps, a little divine intervention chief among them. But his dramatic improvement over the last year can also be attributed to something else. 

As our story explains, Logan's journey along the road to recovery was aided and supported by a veritable "village" of emergency first responders, health-care providers and others. Working together, these individuals provided young Logan with a "continuum of care" that continues to this day.

Typically, people working in the health-care system use the phrase "continuum of care" to describe the interplay of health-care providers working in a community setting, such as a personal care home. Physicians, for example, will often work with nurse practitioners or other caregivers at a personal care home to ensure an elderly resident is being cared for appropriately. But the term is also applicable to a range of other scenarios in which health-care providers with various skills and jobs collaborate to help ensure positive outcomes for patients. 

This kind of teamwork is critical to the proper functioning of the modern health-care system because it helps ensure we are able to deliver on a key element of our strategic plan: to provide the right care, in the right place, and at the right time. The effort to save Logan's life illustrates the importance of being able to deliver on this commitment.  

As noted in our story, Logan began receiving care as soon as emergency first responders arrived on the scene of the accident. Years ago, the primary job of emergency first responders to a vehicle accident was to take the injured to a hospital as soon as possible.

Today, emergency first responders are trained to carry out a wide range of medical procedures, from inserting IVs to administering drugs, all with a view to improving outcomes for patients. This kind of training is particularly important, given that early interventions are critical to a positive outcome in cases like these.

Even within a hospital setting, many health-care providers working in various departments and possessing different kinds of expertise must come together seamlessly to provide patients with the best care possible.

As soon as Logan arrived at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg's Children's Hospital, for example, he was seen by a group of trauma specialists, including an emergency physician, residents, nurses, a respiratory therapist, a computerized tomography (CT) technologist, and a radiologist. This team was charged with making sure that Logan was stable, that he could breathe properly and that he was not bleeding internally. 

Once this group completed its work, Logan was seen by a team of neurologists, headed by Dr. Greg Hansen. This group was responsible for determining the nature of Logan's brain trauma and designing a treatment plan. In Logan's case, that involved placing the boy in an induced coma to reduce swelling of the brain.

Once the swelling subsided, Logan was moved to the pediatric intensive care unit, where he was cared for by a team that included specially trained physicians, residents, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, neurologists, neurology residents, radiologists, physiotherapists, dietitians and others.

After Logan's condition improved, he was transferred to a hospital ward. Here, again, he would be introduced to a new team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and various other consultants, all focused on helping him recover as quickly as possible.

The continuum of care does not end when someone is released from hospital. In Logan's case, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist all continue to make regular visits to his home to work with him as he continues to recover from his injuries.  

All told, an estimated 150 people likely had a hand in caring for Logan. Each one of these responders and health-care providers played an important role in tending to this young boy. And each one of them can take pride in knowing that they have all contributed to helping Logan win the fight for his life.

Wave: November / December 2015

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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