Hospitals collaborate to deliver special neonatal care training 

In health care, team building can happen at many levels. A recent example of this is the collaboration that took place at Rouge Valley Health System and Lakeridge Health. The two hospitals worked together to provide advanced critical care training for nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

In November 2009, the Ontario government provided the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CE LHIN) with funding for four new Level 2 NICU beds in Durham Region. Two beds were added to the Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering (RVAP) hospital campus, and two beds were added to Lakeridge Health Oshawa.  These are the first Level 2 beds in the NICU at RVAP. This complements Rouge Valley’s 15 advanced Level 2 NICU beds located at the Birthing and Newborn Centre at Rouge Valley Centenary (RVC) hospital campus in east Toronto while the NICU at Lakeridge Health Oshawa was already equipped with Level 2 NICU beds.

In advance of these new beds being placed in Durham, the CE LHIN asked the two hospitals to work together to provide training for the NICU nurses. Rose Owen, clinical practice leader for the special care nursery and NICU at RVHS, took the lead in developing a two-part training program. The program was delivered to 29 nurses, 15 from RVAP and 14 who joined from Lakeridge Health Oshawa.

“It was wonderful to see Rouge Valley and Lakeridge staff working together. Through this training, we were able to build and strengthen bridges between our two hospital systems,” says Owen.

The first part of the program was a series of three theory-based and skills practice classes offered at RVAP. The classes featured training by an interdisciplinary team that included a dietitian, neonatal nursing staff, respiratory therapists, and infection prevention and control staff.  The Lakeridge nurses travelled to RVAP to attend the training.

The second part of the training involved three 12-hour shifts working in a Level 2 NICU. Lakeridge nurses completed this clinical component in their own NICU at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, which was already at a Level 2 status. However, because the special care nursery at RVAP was not yet a functioning Level 2 NICU, one of the RVAP nurses did her clinical training at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, while the other 14 nurses completed their 12-hour shifts at RVC’s advanced Level 2 NICU.

For the first time, the special care neonatal nurses from both Rouge Valley hospital campuses were able to work together to deliver care to their patients and share their clinical knowledge and expertise.

“I have enjoyed seeing the relationships between the staff from RVAP and RVC grow. They have not only worked together to complete the Level 2 NICU training, they have also worked toward standardizing processes and the way we provide care across both hospital campuses. It has been an incredible experience for all of our participating nurses. I was very proud of everyone,” says Owen.

The four new Level 2 NICU beds will soon be in place and functioning at RVAP and Lakeridge Health Oshawa. In appreciation for the special training program delivered to nurses from both hospital systems, Lakeridge has graciously provided a laptop and LCD projector for the Women’s and Children’s program at RVAP. The health care teams from both hospitals look forward to continued collaboration and partnership.

This article first appeared in the summer edition of Rouge Valley's "Echo" magazine and was written by Nicholas Smith from Rouge Valley's Public Affairs and Community Relations department.