At SJK, we are thankful to our community members who have become directly involved in the frontlines. We had an opportunity to connect with Dr. Francis Reinders, current SJK parent and Critical Care Leader for Waterloo-Wellington Critical Care Local Health Integration Network to learn more about his perspective from the frontlines at St. Mary's Hospital in Kitchener.
As a Critical Care Leader for Waterloo-Wellington Critical Care Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), Dr. Reinders is a clinical expert that works collaboratively with hospitals, LHIN chief executive offers, Critical Care Services Ontario, CritiCall Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. It is within his responsibility to plan and coordinate critical care service delivery; measure and improve critical care services; plan for critical care surge capacity and be involved in operational and planning issues in critical care.
Dr. Reinders spends the majority of his time at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener as a cardiac anesthesiologist. Currently, he participates in meetings via video conferencing with the other provincial leaders 2-3 times per week, discussing the number of patients in ICU beds across the province, along with personal protective equipment needs. Since St. Mary’s Hospital is the Regional Cardiac Centre, and specializes in lung and thoracic surgery, it has received a high number of critical patients during the pandemic.
When asked how COVID-19 has altered his work, he mentioned that his daily routines have shifted, notably he has dedicated specific clothing to wear to and from the hospital, ensuring he is showering before interacting with family members at home, including his wife, Dr. Sabrina Lim-Reinders, a primary care physician and medical director at Toronto Rehabilitation Centre.
Dr. Reinders makes mention of the value of emotional intelligence in leaders every day, especially during this unprecedented time. “It starts with being kind at work. It’s also important to maintain a reassuring presence and calm environment at home,” he says. The homestead has taken on many new functions, becoming a learning environment and physical fitness centre for his son, Richard (Grade 7). “Remote learning is going well for Richard. He’s also been finding the fitness videos from the SJK Wellness Team very helpful. The whole family is now taking part and enjoying them.” Older sister Stephanie is currently in medical school and has been spending time at home, which the family is enjoying given the usual rigours of her program that keep her occupied.
While the lasting impact of the pandemic is not definitively clear, Dr. Reinders feels that “we will learn lessons from this experience to further refine the healthcare system.” He commends local businesses focusing on manufacturing medical equipment and products as a positive development for our continued preparedness against health challenges such as this pandemic.