The Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Physician Leadership Team are leaders in collaborative, compassionate and connected care in service of residents and families across Fraser Health.
Dr. Akber Mithani, regional medical director, Integrated Long-Term Care and Assisted Living, believes that one hallmark of an exceptional team is that they imagine and reimagine new ways of working together – specifically in service of better outcomes and experience for residents, families and care teams alike.
“The Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Physician Leadership Team is an exemplary model of a cohesive and integrated leadership team,” he says. “These individuals go above and beyond, every day − the work they do, both within Fraser Health and through their community partnerships, is recognized provincially and nationally as a model for physician leadership in long-term care and assisted living.”
The team was formally established in 2020 by Dr. Mithani with membership including: Drs. Ken Dueck, medical lead, Fraser East; Sandra Derkach, medical lead (now retired), Fraser South; Brianna Noon, medical lead, Fraser South; Nick Petropolis, medical lead, Fraser North; Ian Cameron, physician lead, Clinical Research; Amber Jarvie, physician lead, Assisted Living and Clinical Education; Rommel Dahiroc, physician lead, Emergency Preparedness and Infection Prevention Response; Melodie Prem-Smith, physician lead, Clinical Quality; Ralph Jones, physician lead, Information and Technology; Anthony Tran, physician lead, Access, Care and Transitions; Farhan Haque, physician lead, Geriatric Psychiatry and Sarah Pawlovich, physician lead, Mentorship and Development.
“The best part of being on this team is the diverse strengths, experience and expertise, as well as the chance to work together with others who share the same dedication to making the lives of seniors in long-term care better,” says Dr. Petropolis. “We all have varied backgrounds and experiences and complement each other to achieve the same goal of superior patient care and experience.”
For Dr. Prem-Smith, personal experience was a key driver for her work with the team.
“Having a family member living in a long-term care community highlighted to me areas for improvement,” she says.
The team’s goal from the outset was increased collaboration and innovation in order to improve care for some of Fraser Health’s most vulnerable residents and their families.
“I have so much respect and admiration for the elders of our community,” says Dr. Jones. “Working as we do in a team setting helps stimulate new ideas and supports lateral problem solving, which helps us advance our goals of care.”
Some of the large-scale and far-reaching changes the team has overseen include:
- The implementation of medical and operational leadership dyads, wherein each physician leader is paired with an operational director. This has deepened partnerships and communication between Fraser Health and care communities across the system;
- Establishing an academic profile with provincial and national leadership in long-term care research, education and training;
- Developing medical standards of care in partnership with local Divisions of Family Practice that are aligned with the release of new national standards; and
- Developing several quality improvement initiatives led by physician colleagues across the system
The team has also improved access to primary care services in assisted living, by piloting on-site physician services at three care communities. “This will help reduce the need for Emergency Department and acute care visits,” says Dr. Mithani. “Our next steps will be to review and evaluate this work and then introduce this model to additional communities in our region and across the province.”
The team has also overseen the placement and mentorship of family practice residents-in-training into long-term care communities.
“Everyone deserves the best quality of care in their final days,” says Dr. Jarvie. “As a team, we continue to learn, challenge norms and work together so that we can improve that quality of care.”
Another large component of the team’s work focuses on research and development − over the past two years they have brought in almost one million dollars per year in external funding to support their research and quality improvement work.
“With this money we developed a quality improvement toolkit, which has received widespread provincial recognition and is in use in other care communities across B.C.,” says Dr. Mithani.
Sharing their research and working with others, both inside and outside of Fraser Health, is important to the team and its mission and is gaining Fraser Health a reputation as a national and international leader in long-term care and assisted living.
“We plan and host monthly long-term care physician rounds with the goal of improving knowledge and evidence-informed care in long-term care,” says Dr. Mithani. “Also, at our annual conference held in March, over 170 attendees came from across the country.”
“I always say, don’t be afraid of the world of seniors care,” says Dr. Petropolis. “The relationships, the teamwork, and the appreciation from patients makes our work so special and rewarding.”
Congratulations to the Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Physician Leadership Team –recipients of a Best Collaboration Award.