Palliative care

Redefining meaningful
end-of-life
care

Illustration: Palliative Care

Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care defies pandemic to deliver compassionate care.

When the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, Sinai Health was already an international leader in providing compassionate and dignified palliative care that respects the needs of patients and their families.  

As the first organized home palliative care program in Ontario and the largest in Canada, Sinai Health’s Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care (TLCPC) is renowned for its innovative models of care. From home-based palliative services, inpatient consult services and an outpatient clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital to the Albert and Temmy Latner Family Inpatient Palliative Care Unit at Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital, Sinai Health’s palliative care teams ensure patients benefit from care that serves them wherever they are.

For more than 30 years, our skilled palliative care specialists have been providing patients with care to enhance their quality of life. Sinai Health’s palliative team is guided by the principle that the dying and the grieving deserve passionate care that serves their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. So ingrained is that principle, our palliative care providers were relentless in not allowing a global pandemic to compromise their dedication to continue providing patient-centric end-of-life care.

As the pandemic forced hospitals to restrict the number of visitors, more patients were opting to have their end-of-life care delivered within the comfort of their own homes surrounded by loved ones. What’s more, the number of referrals to TLCPC’s Home-Care Program from other hospitals also began to climb — from an average of 180 a month to close to 250 a month. As a result, TLCPC quickly broadened the Home-Care Program’s capacity to support the increase of patients requesting palliative care at home.

Further into the pandemic, when the Delta wave hit Ontario in the fall of 2021, TLCPC’s inpatient team stepped up to offer support to Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department teams by liaising with families and helping facilitate difficult conversations about end-of-life options for care. Rather than wait for referrals, TLCPC’s In-Hospital Care Program team members were proactive in looking for ways to support the in-hospital care teams. When the volume of patients began to rise, the team started going on rounds to see where they could help.

“For many of the patients we care for, we’re asked to take over as the primary provider. So, we’ve developed a primary-care model for home-based patients.”
Dr. Russell Goldman,
Director, Sinai Health’s Inter-Departmental Division of Palliative Care and the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care

At Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital's palliative care unit, visitor restrictions during the early days of the pandemic compelled the care team to reimagine how to connect grieving families with patients. Committed to simulating a meaningful and dignified bedside experience when in-person bedside visits weren’t possible, staff resourced iPads and other devices so that patients could see and hear their loved ones. No patient was ever left alone.

Daily acts of compassion typify Sinai Health’s palliative program as it continues to redefine meaningful end-of-life care.

ILLUSTRATION BY SALINI PERERA