K10: Putting the “Unit” in “Unity”

Carla Jomaa (K10 Head Nurse – Neuroscience) pictured with Melody Lee (K10 Interim Senior Advisor, Neurosciences)
Carla Jomaa (K10 Head Nurse – Neuroscience) pictured with Melody Lee (K10 Interim Senior Advisor, Neurosciences)

The stakes are high on K10, but luckily, so is team spirit.

This highly specialized neuroscience unit at the Jewish General Hospital cares for stroke patients, all thanks to an experienced multi-disciplinary team. The unit also handles the hospital’s other neurosurgery patients, as well as any overflow from other departments.

With such a challenging mandate, coordination and determination are key. The value of a positive work environment is not to be overlooked, which is why Carla Jomaa, Head Nurse of Neurosciences, insists on going to great lengths to empower staff and ensure that everyone feels valued, challenged and stimulated on a daily basis.

Staff members of the multidisciplinary K10 unit at the Jewish General Hospital are all smiles on a daily basis
Staff members of the multidisciplinary K10 unit at the Jewish General Hospital are all smiles on a daily basis

All this, of course, in the name of better patient care.

“In the last year or so, we felt the need for more initiatives that would improve the cohesion of the team,” says Ms. Jomaa. These include a monthly K10 newsletter, a private Facebook page where staff can share non-work-related items, monthly potlucks, the occasional 5 à 7 and even a summer BBQ.

The team on K10 also loves to participate in whatever comes its way. Last year, the unit won a CIUSSS West-Central hand hygiene photo competition, as well as a fashion contest that put its Personal Protective Equipment creativity on display.

That focus on togetherness isn’t lost on the staff. “I see the reaction of the team members. They’re excited,” says Ms. Jomaa, who appreciates the excitement generated by the unit’s creativity and innovation.

That innovation has been put into practice through the use of a specialized suction toothbrush for stroke patients who have difficulty swallowing, due to a condition known as dysphagia. This started as a pilot project in mid-2018 and remains unique to the K10 unit at the JGH for now. So far, the results speak for themselves. When looking at severely dysphagic patients, the team noted a decrease in the rate of aspiration pneumonia, compared with the year prior to the implementation of the suction toothbrush.

It only takes a moment walking around K10 to feel the effects of Ms. Jomaa’s positivity and leadership.

“I feel like Carla is really the driving force of all of these initiatives and the passion and energy that goes into this place,” says Melody Lee, Interim Senior Advisor, Neurosciences. “I like that she encourages her team members to be part of this family. They’re going to enjoy their work more if they feel better and cared for. You can see the smile on their faces.”

Asked about her goals for 2020, Ms. Jomaa says she hopes that ideas emerge from the team members. “They’re the ones at the bedside, they know what they live day to day. I want them to express and really formalize their needs. That would be my resolution.”

Learning from past experiences to improve on the year to come seems only fitting. After all, hindsight is 2020.

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