Continual learning and patient-focused practice in health care and 226 square feet of shelter

I’m pleased to share with you the headlines and opening paragraphs or other excerpts from several articles.

1. From Britain, here’s to your health (André Picard)

From the middle of the article, two paragraphs:

  • Dr. Berwick’s report begins with some general but important observations: Patient safety problems exist, to varying degrees, in every health system in the world; in the vast majority of cases, it is systems, procedures and work environment – not staff members per se – that create the problems; the central focus of health-care institutions should be patients, but it rarely is; responsibility for patient safety is often diffuse – when too many are in charge, no one is responsible; improving safety requires investment, support and effort – it won’t happen magically.
  • To address these fundamental issues, Dr. Berwick and his team said health-care systems need to make some fundamental changes, including: State clearly and courageously that systemic change is required to improve patient safety; abandon blame and trust the goodwill and good intentions of staff; recognize that transparency is essential and expect and insist on it; ensure that who is responsible for overseeing safety and quality improvement is stated clearly; use targets, but use them judiciously – they should never displace the ultimate goal of better care; ensure that health professionals can take pride and joy in their work; they should not live in fear.

[End of excerpt. To access the full article, click here.]

2. Scarborough subway: Council reduces transit planning to a shambles (Jack Diamond)

Here’s an excerpt:

  • Toronto was once a model of metropolitan governance, infrastructure investment and the judicious provision of leisure and cultural amenities, an inspired public transit system and attractive neighbourhoods, all based on prosperous private and well-funded public sectors.
  • What Toronto now has is a confused and fractured city council, reducing municipal planning decisions to simplistic and politicized terms. The sad irony is that shallow, populist subway slogans will ill serve those for whom the transit is intended.
  • Toronto now has one of the longest commuting times in the world, 21st of the 21 cities measured (an average 80 minutes, even exceeding that of Los Angeles), estimated to cost Toronto $2 billion annually. And it has woefully inadequate levels of infrastructure investment — Toronto spends $337 per capita on public transit, 15th of the 21 cities measured. By contrast London spends $1,112 per capita, Berlin $831 and New York $703.

[That’s the excerpt; click here to access the full article.]

3. Milczyn won’t abandon provincial hopes after byelection defeat (David Nickel)

The article begins as follows:

  • Peter Milczyn was back at city hall Tuesday after his defeat in the Aug. 1 Etobicoke-Lakeshore byelection. And while he’ll stay on Mayor Rob Ford’s Executive Committee, he said his experience campaigning for the Ontario Liberals has taught him to be a little more partisan.
  • “If this has changed me in any way – well, I’ve been generally on the more bipartisan side of municipal politics, and I’ll certainly be bipartisan when it comes to my colleagues on council – but I think I’ve reawakened a more partisan on the political side,” said Milczyn, who represents Ward 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) on Toronto council.

[End of excerpt. To access full article, click here.]

4. All-Canadian yurt a tonic for the city-dwelling soul (Dave LeBlanc)

The excerpt:

  • Perhaps this is a physical manifestation of the love that has gone into the Yurta design, which was first developed a decade ago by Anissa Szeto and Marcin Padlewski in the Ottawa area, then refined in the hamlet of Greenwood, Ont., just north of Pickering, where the company is located today. While some have Westernized their yurts by adding sliding glass windows, steel doors and a vinyl outer shell, and others have taken the easy route of importing product straight from Mongolia, the Yurta crew, says Mr. Ladisa, “do everything in the exact opposite way of North American yurt-makers.”
  • For starters, they use as many natural materials as possible, such as the breathable, cotton-duck canvas walls that allow moisture to escape (these are sewn at the little coach house in Greenwood). They’ve engineered a unique way for the latticework frame to lock into place, and they’ve developed their own metal connector pieces rather than MacGyvering something from the big-box hardware store. They’ve kept true to the “nomadic tradition” by ensuring the user can “put this up without turning a screw or hammering a nail,” says Mr. Ladisa.

[That’s the excerpt; read the full article here.]


André Picard adds that the report he cites suggests that patients should be actively involved in every level of health-care organizations, and that education and training of practitioners should include a focus on continual learning.

Both Jack Diamond and Peter Milczyn speak on behalf of a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to getting things done.

Dave LeBlanc’s piece underlines the fact that, a standardized Globe Real Estate approach to writing style and vocabulary notwithstanding, interesting and valid concepts can be communicated in a brief newspaper article. Sometimes what is said is more important than how it is expressed.


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