Five years of Major Projects at Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Center

adapting to change and building expertise

The major projects carried out at the Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant (Marie Enfant) over the past five years have been particularly affected by the pandemic and the resulting shortage of manpower. What was once an exceptional situation became a new reality, bringing with it a host of challenges. Fortunately, the teams were able to demonstrate the full extent of their ability to adapt. In this article, you’ll discover how the commitment of the professionals enabled them to take control of complex situations and find creative solutions. In fact, MUSCO’s Executive Committee has agreed to maintain some of these projects beyond the originally planned summer 2023 completion deadline, to allow time for the changes to take shape.

Demonstrating adaptability in the face of constant change

The health restrictions associated with COVID-19 meant that some of the projects did not go ahead as originally envisaged, as was the case with the Living Lab project. This project was intended to bring together patients and their families at the Technopôle, as well as collaborators from all walks of life (clinicians, researchers, community organizations, industry professionals, etc.) to work together to improve care and services. A partnership manager was to be recruited to facilitate these exchanges, but finding the profile needed to mobilize all the expertise proved complex. The solution was to reduce the mandate and focus more on coordinating a clinical-research component.

This proved to be a wise choice: in the end, a resource person was recruited who helped:

  • Develop 40 social and technological innovation projects based on patient needs and expertise;
  • Set up partnerships with the community and industry;
  • Identify 29 other projects for future development. 

This major project was one of those completed this year under the Initiative. Subsequently, the salary costs of the resource person will be borne by the establishment, and the formalization of the project’s new direction will be put in place with the ultimate aim of enabling young people and their families to benefit from its spin-offs.

When research, clinical and external partners take the time to sit down together, the resulting innovative projects have a maximum impact on children’s quality of life. Coordinating these efforts requires perseverance, openness and agility. This networking is essential, because it is through interdisciplinarity that the most complex problems can be solved.

Isabelle Marcoux, Research Planning and Programming Officer

Forging links with the community

Another of the Initiative’s major projects deployed at Marie Enfant has had to adapt, that of Support for Community Organizations project. Here again, the pandemic has changed the situation, since the project initially planned to host information and training sessions organized by community organizations in a physical location. With COVID-19, access to these premises became impossible, and many people began to collaborate and seek information virtually. But here again, the project was not abandoned, and another way was found forward with a thorough reflection on how best to collaborate between the institutional and community organizations environments to support families:

Following a survey sent out to families, the needs expressed led to the reorientation of this project to strengthen the links between community organizations, professionals and families, for better mutual knowledge and understanding; an essential link that will benefit everyone. The current aim is to enable families to benefit from each other’s expertise, and to direct them to the right resources at the right time.

Better patient care

Another project that emerged in the wake of the pandemic, and which aims to provide more efficient care, is the revision of Marie Enfant’s pathways for the Amputee and Musculoskeletal Lesions Program, with the goal of improving the fluidity of patient care. This program brings together professionals from a variety of backgrounds (physiatrists, orthopedists, geneticists, interdisciplinary rehabilitation teams), with a team that has developed professional expertise in Quebec, enabling young people living with complex and rare conditions and their families to receive cutting-edge services. Issues of increase, complexity of requests and limited resources led the teams to reflect on this revision project, which was added to the Initiative’s portfolio in 2022.

Thus, the support provided by MUSCO made it possible to recruit three resources to strengthen the Marie Enfant teams and initiate the revision of this trajectory: a clinical coordinator, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist have been dedicated to this mandate since June 2023 in order to maximize patient care and reduce stress for families.

The shortage of manpower greatly slowed down the initial recruitment process, but the team will now be able to relieve professionals and reduce waiting times. 

Ensuring cutting-edge expertise and international reach

Over the last few years, the number and complexity of requests for Marie Enfant’s services has grown considerably. It is in this context that another project has been proposed to meet the need to ensure cutting-edge expertise and the advancement of knowledge, particularly in subspecialized care. At the same time, the ambition is to develop neurorehabilitation skills comparable to those of the major American centers, in order to meet the Ministry’s requirements. Initially intended to enable the acquisition of equipment for the Technopôle, the major project Supporting Clinical Research in Rehabilitation has evolved into the strategic recruitment of several rehabilitation clinician scientists.

With the support of various committees (advisory and consultative) created for the occasion, discussions were initiated on the profile of these  clinician scientists, as well as on the strategic development of the Technopôle. Two  clinician scientists have already been recruited, and the project will continue until a third person has been found in order to implement the necessary reflections and develop the Technopôle’s strategic positioning on an international scale.

What about the future?

It’s clear that, despite the pitfalls and challenges, our staff have been able to adapt and respond to the needs of families. The major projects that have not yet been developed to their full potential will be able to do so in the coming months. 

It’s a safe bet that the teams will continue their efforts to improve practices, collaborate more closely with the various stakeholders and develop expertise on an ongoing basis.

Photo Credits: CHU Sainte-Justine