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Gold Apple award celebrates the VGH ECMO team’s collaborative approach to life-saving patient care


In the photo from left to right: Lynette Brandsma, Megan Pratt, Robert Chernuka, Cara Summers, Steven Sells, Dr. Hussein Kanji, Jessica Donald, and Glenn Daigle.

Vancouver General Hospital's (VGH) Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) team has been honoured with the B.C. Health Care Awards' Gold Apple in the collaborative solutions category.

This award adds another accolade to the ECMO team's growing list of recognition, which includes being the first hospital in Canada to achieve gold-level status by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization in 2019.

ECMO is an advanced form of life support that pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body so a patient's heart and lungs can rest. It is a safer alternative to using a ventilator, which can lead to permanent damaging effects and even death. ECMO is often used for patients awaiting lung transplants. 

From day one, the VGH ECMO program's success has been the product of exceptional team work: initially developed through the collaboration of 42 health partners from more than 10 organizations, the program continues to lean on the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team to provide its gold-standard care.

The team includes doctors, nurses, care aides, occupational therapists, perfusionists, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers, spiritual care practitioners, extracorporeal life support (ECLS) specialists and dietitians.

Dr. Hussein Kanji, Intensivist and Co-Director of VGH's ECMO program, explains the impact this collaboration makes on patient care.

“I'm incredibly proud of what has come from our collaboration. We see patients who are on death's doorstep, who often have a very low or dismal chance for survival, who walk out of the hospital and go on to lead amazing and beautiful lives," says Hussein. “It's because everyone on the team has come together to work towards a patient-centric outcome."     

Amandeep Sidhu, Clinical Supervisor and Clinicial Perfusionist, agrees that team collaboration has led to further improvements for the ECMO program.

“Advances in technology and interdisciplinary collaboration over the past several years have led to our ability to support our increasing ECMO population, and has resulted in enhanced patient outcomes," Amandeep says.

Patient Nick Kanaan has experienced the life-saving impact of these advancements. In 2019, Nick came to VGH when his cystic fibrosis worsened and he could no longer fight infection. Critically ill, his life hung in the balance.

“Without ECMO, I wouldn't be here and I'd have no chance of recovery. It served as a bridge to my lung transplant as my lungs were completely failing," he says. Today, Nick lives a normal and healthy life.          

Jackson Lam, Patient Services Manager of Critical Care, ICU, credits the ECMO team's shared commitment to outcomes like Nick's for driving the program's ongoing collaboration and innovation. 

“Innovation is most evident when a group of experienced clinicians come together with their specialized skills and knowledge to work on a project with the goal of providing the best care to patients," says Jackson. “This is the case of the ECMO program at VGH and I am very fortunate and grateful to be a part of the team."

For more information, visit the BC Health Care Awards website. To view videos of the Gold Apple recipients, visit the BC Health Care Awards YouTube channel. NOTE: Some images shown on the video were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Gold Apple award celebrates the VGH ECMO team’s collaborative approach to life-saving patient care ( )
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