Amid a pandemic that has lasted nearly two years, our clinical teams have adapted to support patients who rely on our critical mental health services, while ensuring that protecting patients from COVID-19 is a key priority.
The Psychosis Recovery and Treatment (PRT) Unit 7 provides care for patients who need treatment for schizophrenia or related disorders. This vulnerable population is at a significantly higher risk of developing complications and/or severe disease from COVID-19.
The team members have successfully engaged every patient in a conversation about receiving the vaccine, regardless of whether they held preconceived notions about the pandemic, a mistrust of vaccines, or presented to the PRT Unit 7 with no initial knowledge of COVID-19. Using a conversational and collaborative approach, this team has helped every patient choose to get vaccinated, which is an incredible and inspiring accomplishment.
“The process of determining vaccine eligibility and obtaining consent requires close collaboration between nurses, pharmacists, and doctors, as well as coordination with the Mobile Vaccine Team. The PRT Unit 7 team has taken an approach grounded in patience and education to help empower patients with the information they need to make an informed decision about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” remarked CAMH Pharmacist, Yulya Amal.
While many patients wanted to get vaccinated as soon as possible, others were unsure. In many cases, patients did not trust the vaccine because of false information they had heard about vaccines and the pandemic.
“Building a rapport based on trust and respect with each patient, along with taking the time to listen to their concerns and dispelling inaccurate information has allowed us to successfully engage every patient in a conversation about the importance of getting vaccinated,” said Nurse Team Lead, Bradley Fudge.
Making matters even more complicated, some patients present to CAMH with little to no knowledge of COVID-19 or the current public health emergency. For these patients, it was important that their CAMH care providers help them understand the current state of the pandemic and why it was important to follow public health measures, like physical distancing and masking requirements. Team members then started a conversation with the patients about getting vaccinated.
“Despite battling COVID-19 for nearly two years, we have had to reiterate the importance of social distancing, wearing a mask and proper hand hygiene to some patients who were not aware of the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is reflective of how vulnerable some of these patients really are by the time they come to CAMH,” added Ann Hilliard, a Senior Manager in the Psychosis Recovery Team.
Since these vaccination efforts began in January of 2021, in coordination with the CAMH Mobile Vaccination Clinic, the PRT Unit 7 team has administered 137 vaccinations and counting to patients on the unit.
“The vaccine’s effectiveness in maintaining health and preventing severe illness is very well-established. I have observed reluctant patients responding positively to the team’s enthusiasm, leading to their acceptance of the vaccine. Once they have had their first shot, they usually readily accept the subsequent shots,” said CAMH Psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Ginsberg.
The PRT Unit 7 team’s ongoing dedication and initiative to getting their patients vaccinated against COVID-19 has helped ensure they can continue to receive treatment for schizophrenia, while being as protected as possible from COVID-19.
Thank you to the PRT Unit 7 team for your hard work and dedication!