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ECHO: Ontario firsts in Thunder Bay

Posted on November 1, 2018
physiotherapist assesses standardized patient

From Oct 26-28, the ECHO SJGC Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship Hub hosted a three-day conference on paediatric and adult pain management at St. Joseph’s Care Group in Thunder Bay.

Participants in the Project ECHO Boot Camp: Pain Across the Lifespan received hands-on training in workshops on topics including pain neurophysiology, pharmacology for paediatrics, mindfulness, transition from acute to chronic pain, medical marijuana, motivational interviewing, guided injections for common peripheral joint/soft tissue, de-prescribing opioids, and more. The training was accredited by the Continuing Education and Professional Development (CEPD) office at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

Project ECHO, which stands for Extension for Community Health Outcomes, uses a “hub and spoke” model. The ECHO Ontario Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship Hub to connect primary care sites across Northern Ontario (the “spokes”) to chronic pain specialists at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, and the Ottawa Hospital (the “hub”) via teleconferencing. In weekly sessions, members bring forward cases that the group then reviews together. There is also time built in for teaching on topics relevant to chronic pain and opioid stewardship.

As part of their agreement with the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the ECHO Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship Hub receives funding to host one in-person boot camp per year. This weekend’s boot camp was the first in which ECHO members from Northern Ontario, SickKids and the Ottawa Hospital came together in one location for the hands-on workshops.

“It’s an opportunity not just to get into some of the hands-on training we can’t do over teleconference, but to meet other members of the group in person, network, and really build community,” said Dr. Bryan McLeod, co-lead of the ECHO Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship Hub and Associate Professor at NOSM.

Participants came from across Northern Ontario, Ottawa and Toronto, and represented a range of health professions including physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and more.

“I’m a new grad, and being in a rural environment, in a small community hospital, there’s only myself and one other physiotherapist, so the ECHO is a great opportunity to have experts as well as other health care providers to go through some of my tougher cases with,” said Katrina Radassao, a physiotherapist at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital. “It’s especially nice to be at this boot camp, meeting the people you’ve been working with over the phone or by video conference in person and connecting on that level.”