A Look Back at Some of the Best Stories of 2019


With a new year – and decade – dawning, we thought we’d reflect on the past year by looking back through some of the stories we posted in 2019.

In the nearly 40 stories posted last year, a broad range of topics were covered. We’ve profiled both Eastern Health staff and patients; delved deep into some of the technology and medical innovations Eastern Health uses to deliver health care; and discovered some surprising ways that health care providers have gone above and beyond their normal duties in the communities they serve – and so much more. Here are a few of our favourites.

Who’s Who

One of the first stories of 2019 also turned out to be the most read story we posted all year. The Power of Positive Thinking and Determination – One Young Woman’s Recovery from Stroke profiled Eastern Health food service worker Sarah Jane Downton’s recovery after suffering a stroke at the age of 20.

Easter, St. John’s, 2018

Determined to get well, she poured herself into her treatment. Because she needed help from specialists in several fields such as speech language pathology, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and dietetics, she became a patient of the [Dr. L.A. Miller Centre] hospital and received therapy for three hours a day, three to five days per week. For the next five months, she worked hard to regain full use of her body – and to get her words back.

In May, we caught up with Paula Fifield, a nursing instructor with the Centre for Nursing Studies, who had just celebrated her 45th year with Eastern Health.

Paula Fifield has just celebrated working 45 years with Eastern Health.

Almost every day could be defined as a highlight. When I go to the hospital and I see someone who I’ve taught and they say, ‘I haven’t seen you in a long time’ or ‘Remember when you taught me in clinical’, that is a highlight for me. Receiving my 45-year pin was also a highlight. If someone, a former student or patient, comes and says thank you or says something like ‘you were so good to us’, they are truly special moments and ones I enjoy.

In recognition of National Child Day on November 20, we introduced you to Barry Efford, a personal care attendant at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre and “everyday hero,” who received a CEO Award of Excellence for his outstanding work. The accompanying video documenting a Barry’s workday was our most watched of 2019! Check it out below.

Eastern Health Gets Innovative

In February, we attended an Eastern Health roundtable session, where 122 participants representing regional health authorities, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, patient advisors, industry partners, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI), Memorial University, and others discussed innovation strategies.

Participants of the Health Innovation Collaborative Network/Cluster Roundtable.

It was clear at the end of the day that participants of the roundtable session are supportive of value-based procurement and would encourage Eastern Health and its partners to explore this innovative strategy further. And by bringing a broad spectrum of individuals together, Eastern Health now has a collaborative hub which will identify the challenges moving forward and look for the opportunities in those challenges to move forward on the innovation journey.

In June, we took you inside the state of the art cardiac catheterization laboratory and demonstrated how new, collaborative technologies can have a positive impact on not only patient outcomes, but also wait times. See for yourself below.

In November, Kelly Fry, a long-term care occupational therapist at both the Agnes Pratt and Saint Luke’s Homes in St. John’s, shared another example of how innovation and health care come together. When Agnes Pratt resident Mike Hearn’s accessibility needs changed, he was left without a place for his favourite cup – until a high-tech solution was discovered.

As workers in today’s health-care system, we take pride in prioritizing the ‘small’ details that can have big impacts on a person’s quality of life and well-being, even if they fall outside our awareness or comfort zones. I have always associated technology in health care with information management or surgical innovations. Through this experience, I learned how it can also directly impact my front-line work and the quality of life of our patients, clients and residents.

Caring for Community

In March, Kimberly French, a family nurse practitioner at St. Mary’s and Mount Carmel, wrote our second most-read story of 2019 – Nurse Practitioners: Human Connections in Rural Communities – detailing the unique aspects of being NP in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Kimberly French

My role is ever changing. The learning is endless! Providing personalized, focused care to those I come to know personally adds an extra layer of connection that enriches the work I do and allows me to see first-hand the impact that a nurse practitioner can have.

Our last story of 2019 recapped a yearlong effort by members of Eastern Health’s Paramedicine and Medical Transport team to give back to their communities in some surprising ways.

‘Paramedics and other first responders have a different viewpoint in the positions that we hold,’ Eastern Health paramedic Steve Ryan says. ‘We are in the community daily, we are in [our patients’] homes, and we often see the struggles that people face. There are many families that find themselves in situations out of their control – from family break ups, loss of a loved one, unemployment, mental or physical illness, addictions, or just simple bad luck. We see the need, and I think as the ‘helpers’ of our communities, we feel a certain degree of obligation to help in as many ways as we can.’

2019 At a Glance

As varied as the topics covered were in 2019, one major theme runs through every story – health care is not simply the interaction between patients and health care providers, but rather a multifaceted approach to care and commitment connecting all members of a community. Health care is about people helping each other. And far beyond the public face of test results, prescription pads, waiting rooms and hospitals, stories are being written every day – with hope and courage and selflessness.

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