Providing support for an at-risk group
Arjay Ordona, one of North York General Hospital’s geriatric emergency management nurses, has been calling geriatric patients aged 65 and older to see how they’re doing and provide them with advice during the COVID crisis. The initiative began on Friday, March 20, and he’s called more than 25 patients so far. He and his colleagues will be calling more patients in the coming days. We sat down with Arjay to learn more about this initiative.
Why did you start this initiative?
We thought it was important that we reach out to this highly vulnerable population and their families to find out how they’re doing, educate them on what’s going on, provide medical advice and inform them of what resources are available to help them. This is a public health crisis that’s hard on the well-being of patients and their families.
Also, with social distancing being strongly encouraged, there has been less and less human interaction, so we need to keep thinking of innovative ways to connect with our patients and their families. At North York General, we take a patient- and family-centered approach to care, and I think this initiative is a perfect example of that.
How have patients reacted to your calls?
So far, patients’ reactions to these calls have been positive. They were pleasantly surprised that we’re doing this initiative and grateful for the medical advice and information I provided them over the phone, such as what to do if they get sick and what to do in an emergency. They said they felt supported and less anxious about the situation after speaking with me.
Can you share a conversation that really touched or inspired you?
I spoke to the daughter of an 80-year-old patient who I saw about a month ago with complex medical and psychosocial conditions. The patient has been doing well, but their daughter sounded really anxious and concerned about what to do if her parent got sick and how to get help. Fortunately, I was able to support and reassure her, providing her with advice of when it would be appropriate to bring them to the emergency department versus their family doctor. She was so grateful for my call and thought I was going above and beyond what I normally do in the emergency department, even though I was just doing my job.