Scarborough Hospital launches new sickle cell crisis protocol

By Admin Friday April 13 2012 in News
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The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) has launched a new sickle cell crisis protocol in its emergency department in an effort to better serve its diverse community.



The launch seeks to address the needs of the large population affected by sickle cell disease in the Scarborough area, bringing the hospital one step closer to achieving its mandate to meet the unique needs of each and every patient.



Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder causing the red blood cells to be abnormally shaped, rigid and sticky. These irregular cells are fragile, unable to carry oxygen, prone to rupture and can get stuck in small blood vessels which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body, often resulting in shortness of breath, fatigue and delayed growth and development in children. It can also cause unexplained episodes of severe pain called crisis.



The disease most commonly affects people from Africa, South and Central America, Caribbean islands and Mediterranean countries.



People with sickle cell disease often come to the emergency department in crisis. They are in a tremendous amount of pain and require immediate treatment to stop the sickle cycle and the pain. In the past, a number of barriers have prevented patients from receiving immediate treatment, however this new protocol involves a pre‐printed, standardized order set that allows triage nurses to expedite treatment.



By looking at evidence, evaluating the needs of the patients in the Scarborough community, and through a partnership with the TAIBU Community Health Center, the hospital developed a protocol that is unique and specifically suited to TSH and its patients.



“We saw there was a need in the community and we knew we needed to do something,” said TSH Pain Service Specialist, Angela Harrinanan. “When TAIBU came to us and asked us to do something, we realized we had to come up with a solution right away and worked with them to make it happen.”



The goal of the new protocol is to provide immediate, effective, up‐front care to patients in an effort to prevent hospitalization. “We want to treat and discharge patients within 24 hours and without admission to the hospital,” she said.



The community partnership with TAIBU is integral to the success of treating sickle cell patients in crisis. Open communication between the two organizations will allow the hospital to better understand the issues sickle cell patients are facing and better facilitate seamless care and follow‐up when patients are discharged.



Staff members at TSH and TAIBU are excited about this new protocol. “This is a really, really good thing for our sickle cell patients,” said Lynda Vanden Kroonenberg, Clinical Resource Leader at the Birchmount campus. “It sends a message that we know they are coming to our Emergency Department in a tremendous amount of pain and we’re ready for them.”



Executive director of TAIBU, Liben Gebremikael, first brought this issue to the hospital’s attention on behalf of a sickle cell coalition group.



“The implementation of this protocol is a huge milestone in the sickle cell community and provides great benefit to the Scarborough community and the hospital. It will help reduce wait times in emergency departments, shorter hospitalization if at all, and improve their experience of patient‐centred care provided by the hospital,” says Gebremikael. “It has been a really great experience working with TSH on this initiative, and to know they are willing to work with community partners is encouraging. We have confidence that if we see issues in the community, we can bring them to the hospital and they will be properly addressed.”



The Scarborough Hospital actively seeks partnerships with community agencies in Scarborough to better serve its global community. Partnerships such as this one with TAIBU allow TSH to better understand its diverse population and develop programs and initiatives to address the unique needs in the community.



For more information, please contact Analiese St.Aubin, Community Relations Officer for The Scarborough Hospital, at (416) 438‐2911 ext. 8308 or


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