On the Receiving
Side of Care

CONNIE BEAUDIN, AN ATTENDANT IN THE STERILE PROCESSING DEPARTMENT AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, NEVER EXPECTED TO HAVE TO LEARN THE TRUTH BEHIND HER OWN WORDS IN SUCH A MEANINGFUL BUT DIFFICULT WAY.

Connie Beaudin

Connie Beaudin walks along Ipperwash Beach with a positive prognosis for the future.

“One thing I always stress when I train other staff is to do your job as best as you can. Because you never know when you could become the customer.”

Connie Beaudin, an attendant in the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) at University Hospital, never expected to have to learn the truth behind her own words in such a meaningful but difficult way.

Having felt tired and short of breath for months, a visit with her physician resulted in the news that Connie would eventually need a pericardectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the lining around her heart. A result of heart surgery she had at just five years old, scar tissue had formed within the pericardial lining, constricting the pumping of her heart.

But that surgery was put on hold indefinitely following another devastating piece of news: Connie had developed Stage 2 breast cancer and required a radical mastectomy.

“Fear was definitely my first response and I called my sister in tears,” she says. “But she helped give me a sense of resolve, and by the time I hung up the phone I was determined to fight.”

Part of Connie’s confidence in her prognosis came from her knowledge of the inner-workings of what she calls “the heart of the hospital,” the SPD. Having worked in the SPD for 22 years, Connie has always taken pride in her work and enjoyed mentoring those new to the department.

Knowing that she had helped train approximately 75 per cent of the people in her department gave her comfort going into the operating room. “I had no fears about instrumentation or the SPD staff,” she says with a quiet smile. “I knew they had done their job well.”

A brand new tool that is revolutionizing the way SPD staff do their job, is the Censitrac software that allows them to track instruments at the individual level – a relatively new and innovative software and practice in Canada. “I’ve seen a lot of changes in 22 years,” says Connie, “but this is by far one of the biggest. This new software helps us deliver safer patient care.”

One week after her radical mastectomy, Connie went in for further surgery– this time an auxiliary dissection after biopsy showed the cancer had spread. Put on a course of chemotherapy following her two surgeries, Connie had to stop the treatment early after it began aggravating her existing pericardial constriction.

This meant another trip to the operating room to remove the lining around her heart.

“I’ve been through hell and back,” she says. “But the care I received from my colleagues at LHSC was top notch. There is great support here and my family and colleagues were a great comfort in my journey.”

Two years after her three surgeries Connie’s prognosis is positive, as is her knowledge about how her work affects others.

“I love knowing that what I do ultimately helps our patients.”


Sterile Processing Department Photos

Sterile Processing Department

THE HEART OF THE HOSPITAL

TERRY ROBB REMEMBERS BEING CALLED WHILE AT THE GROCERY STORE ABOUT AN ISSUE THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY REVOLUTIONIZE HER DEPARTMENT. IT WAS 6:30 P.M. ON DECEMBER 4, 2006 AND ROBB, MANAGER OF THE STERILE PROCESSING DEPARTMENT (SPD) AT LHSC WAS TOLD THERE WAS A POTENTIAL CASE OF CREUTZFELDT–JAKOB DISEASE, COMMONLY KNOWN AS CJD, MEANING ALL INSTRUMENTS USED DURING THE SURGERY AT UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL WOULD HAVE TO BE QUARANTINED.

“Unfortunately, it was now four days after the surgery and we had no way of tracking where those particular instruments had gone,” she recalls. Immediately all surgeries and procedures in the hospital were cancelled. “It basically shut the hospital down,” says Robb.

Staff in the University Hospital SPD had to recall each of the 100,000 instruments in the hospital. It took three days before the hospital could resume daily clinical operations, but Robb says they had no choice. “Patient safety is always our priority.”

The silver lining in this experience was the implementation of the new Censitrac software system at both University and Victoria Hospitals that tracks instruments at the individual level – a rare and relatively new practice in Canada.

“We literally were ‘blown off our chairs’ at the innovation of this technology,” says Robb. “The software was extremely intuitive, and the company understood what our needs were and what safe patient care really meant.”

The management system tracks instrument trays and validates sterilization procedures as instruments move through the cycle of being used and then cleaned, decontaminated, assembled and sterilized for re-use.

“This system promotes patient safety through better management of medical instruments,” says Robb.

In addition to becoming the first hospital in Canada to have this tracking software, the SPD also implemented new core competency modules. These modules include: basic infection control; decontamination; assembly; sterilization and care of supplies; and quality control and professionalism, outlining the core knowledge staff need to do their jobs properly.

Write-ups for instrumentation also became standardized. “One instrument could have five different names throughout the hospital. Now each instrument has one clearly defined name,” says Robb.

The overhaul of the SPD has made for safer, more effective patient care. “Before, our system was flawed. Now the system helps us correct shortcuts and human errors,” says Robb. “Putting this new technology in place allows us to continue to provide excellence in patient care, which has always been and will remain our main focus.”