Advocate for family-centred care recognized with pediatric COVID-19 leadership award

Tamara Vineberg - 20 November 2020

Bonita Lee shows her appreciation to the team members who supported her COVID-19 initiatives.
Bonita Lee was one of two department members recognized with a Pediatric Chairs of Canada COVID-19 Leadership Award for their ingenuity during the pandemic.

Lee, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases and virology, and her team advocated for pediatric patients in the pandemic planning process. As a result, the initial “no visitor” rule was changed at the Stollery Children’s Hospital to allow a parent to be with a child at all times. She also created videos with input from child life practitioners to educate all members of the healthcare team on how to use protective personal equipment.

Read the Q & A with Lee:

What are some unique considerations for pediatric patients and their families you felt needed to be included in the pandemic planning process?

Family-centered care is important, and the delivery of care for pediatric patients involves parents/guardians. A family care provider by the bedside is essential for the care of many children. During the early pandemic response, we established exemptions for essential family care providers to stay in hospital while protecting other patients from infection.

A single patient room and dedicated bathroom provides the optimal environment for patient family-centered care at pediatric hospitals. But most of the rooms at the Stollery are double-occupancy, making it more challenging to deliver family-centred care. I am grateful for the ongoing work of all the Stollery staff in respecting each patient environment, doing good hand hygiene, donning and doffing personal protective equipment, and practicing point-of-care risk assessment for infection prevention and control (IPC) practice to protect themselves and everyone they are looking after.

What steps did you take to educate your team and families on how to use personal protective equipment?

All my Alberta infection control colleagues have developed useful resources for education regarding personal protective equipment. I have discovered that the best initiatives to improve IPC practice are ideas being created and developed by frontline staff for their team. As an IPC physician at the Stollery, I am most happy to support any help needed for their initiatives. Essential family care providers have already had exposure to the patient’s illness so they were not required to wear protective personal equipment (PPE) when staying with their children. Besides PPE, frequent hand hygiene is a critical step in preventing transmission of infectious diseases. It’s always encouraged to remind staff, patients, and families.

I helped produce a video with Alberta Health Services communications on how to adapt an adult mask for a pediatric patient.

What does receiving the COVID Pandemic Leadership Award mean to you?

I am very honoured and thankful to our department chair Sarah Forgie for nominating me. Many of my IPC colleagues at all levels have been and are doing wonderful work, and I hope my receiving this award is a highlight and celebration of all IPC and not myself. I also treasure this moment of recognition as it gives me a chance to thank all colleagues, friends, patients, and families at the Stollery for their support and work that makes it possible for IPC to protect patients at the Stollery.

How would you define leadership?

Leadership comes in different forms. It starts with a vision or a good idea and a great team to make things possible.

What is your inspiration for working in pediatric infection control?

I’m inspired by the never-ending learning, challenges, problem-solving, and surveillance leading to better patient outcomes by preventing infections. This also inspires me to work in pediatric infection control and the bonus is working with such great IPC colleagues.

How did the Department of Pediatrics’ partners (AHS, the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, the U of A, or WCHRI) support you with this initiative?

Supportive colleagues and friends at the University of Alberta, Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Maternal Newborn Child & Youth Strategic Clinical Network and Alberta Health Services, who focus on improving all the time, surround me and they are willing to put resources and time into initiatives. I have a background history of depression and I am very thankful for all the support when I needed it. I hope that everyone who cares will make things better during this challenging time.

Karen Forbes was also recognized with a PCC Pandemic Leadership Award - read about her pediatric bootcamp here.