Just the Right Blend of Leadership and Determination!

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Meet Jennifer Marandola, a nurse who holds a master’s degree and isn’t afraid of even the most complex challenges. She is a dynamic woman not interested in the spotlight, and an undeniable leader who knows how to rally her team around a shared goal. She is always looking out for the well-being of others, which is a reflection of her core values.

Ms. Marandola, please tell us a little about how you came to be a nurse.
“After trying a few different directions academically, I finally found my way when I completed my nursing diploma at Dawson College in 2005. A few years later, in early 2010, I began first a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia. Studying remotely was perfect for me, as I also had two young children.

My master’s degree, which was a specialized nurse practitioner program, was an opportunity to learn about developing orientation plans and training for nurses in hospital settings, as well as drafting clinical tools. I also had the opportunity to do the internship for my master’s degree at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).”

Where did you start your career and when did you join our CIUSSS?
“I have been working since I was a student. I spent about 12 years at the MUHC, working as a nurse practitioner is a number of sectors, including medicine-surgery and obstetrics. I started working at the CIUSSS shortly after I finished my studies in 2017. I was working in obstetrics as an advanced practice nurse.

During the pandemic I was assigned to work on setting up vaccination clinics. That quickly appealed to my interest in management. Afterwards I spent a year as the coordinator for all of the CIUSSS’ outpatient services. Since last year I have been the senior nursing advisor for infrastructure and clinical projects.”    

You recently oversaw the relocation of the Lakeshore General Hospital’s Emergency Department, which was a major undertaking. Can you tell us about that project?
“That was an 11-month endeavour that ended on May 15 with the opening of the Emergency Department in the modular building. The clinical side of the project started with planning how the space was to be used. That was followed by the relocation itself, becoming familiar with the new work setting, scaling back clinical activities in the Emergency Department, transferring the patients, and then moving the remaining equipment.”

Why was this move necessary?
“The clinical environment of the Lakeshore General Hospital’s Emergency Department needed to be upgraded pending the construction of a new permanent emergency room, which is slated to begin in 2027. Our organization took the opportunity to acquire a modular building, which became available when the Montreal Heart Institute completed its renovations.

The are many advantages to the new location, including better contact with the patients because all the stretchers are now visible from the nursing station. The end result is an improvement in the quality of care and services we provide.”

Can you tell us about the role you played?
“I was responsible for the clinical aspects. As such, I managed a number of teams on this project, including the Emergency management team, care advisors, physicians, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and others. I was generally the liaison with the technical team, such as information technologies, biomedical engineering, architecture, engineering, and so on. There was no end to the meetings!

In short, I needed to ensure the clinical setting met the clinical needs so that all of the professionals in the Emergency Department can properly meet the needs of the community.

The ultimate goal was to organize a move that was safe and affected the clinical aspects as little as possible. There was no way we could close the Emergency Department, so when it came time to move, I was coordinating the clinical activities in the Emergency Department that were affected by the relocation, redirecting ambulances, planning patient and equipment transfers, and keeping track of all the details.”

And how did the big day unfold?
"We had meticulously planned everything, so it all went off without a hitch. Starting at 5:00 a.m. on May 15, we moved the first 15 patients, one by one. We prioritized those patients who needed closer monitoring. From 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., we moved a lot of the equipment, and following that started to move a second set of patients. The last four patients were moved between 10:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Other patients were redirected elsewhere (care units, home, etc.). 

In preparation, we had planned a complete trajectory for each patient together with the IT and biomedical engineering teams. That innovative idea meant we could start Emergency Department activities in the new location at 5:00 a.m., while the activities related to moving the patients were underway in the old location. That means that dedicated triage rooms, code rooms, waiting rooms, as well as stretchers and cubicles were ready to welcome patients and staff. We rigorously followed the established clinical protocol, which meant that all of the staff and physicians knew what to do and when. 

It’s important to mention that every sector of the hospital pitched in from May 11 to 14 to that we could scale back activities in the Emergency Department as planned (relocated patients to care units, planned discharges, increased medical consults, etc.). On moving day, there were only 26 patients in the Emergency Department for an occupation rate of 84%!”

What were the keys to this project’s success?
“Without a doubt, the buy-in from the many stakeholders involved in the project. There was unanimous support for the organizational approach we took.

One unique feature of our plan was that we set aside the two weeks prior to opening the “new Emergency Department” for everyone to get familiar with the new premises. That gave us time to run simulations, give training, test new equipment, explain the details of the moving process, look at clinical protocols together, listen to concerns, and also reassure the staff and physicians. We met with all 169 people who work in the Emergency Department in small groups so that we could eliminate as many irritants as possible before opening day. That detailed planning and consultation paid off, as there were no service breakdowns. In fact, within an hour of opening the “new Emergency Department,” everything was up and running.

I also need to point out the generous support we received from the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation, which funded the purchase of medical equipment.”

What part makes you proudest?
“Without a doubt, the smiles on the faces of those who do everything they can to make sure the Emergency Department is running properly. People are happy in their new working environment and they have been letting us know. Throughout this project, I have been impressed by people who have generously and respectfully shared their expertise.

As my first project in this new role, I really could not have asked for anything more on any level. Everything went according to plan!”

Ms. Marandola also agreed to tell us a little bit about your life outside of work. 

What should we know about you?
“I was born in Fort McMurray, Alberta. My mother has pointed out the irony that I was born in a modular building because the hospital’s maternity ward was under construction! My family later lived in various communities along Quebec’s south shore. I went to high school in Florida before returning to Quebec for my post-secondary studies.

I am the proud mother of two daughters, 13-year-old Chloe and 16-year-old Mia, who are both competitive cheerleaders. When I’m not working, I am proudly wearing my ‘cheer mom’ hat.”

What are your favourite ways to relax?
“I love being outdoors. I enjoy running and hiking, which allow me to have some time to myself.”

“I have never worked on a project with more buy-in,” says Ms. Marandola, shown here with a number of the key players in the relocation of the Emergency Department.

“When we respond quickly to staff needs so that they allow them to work more efficiently, we immediately lower tensions and frustrations,” adds Ms. Marandola, who also chairs the Council of Nurses and Nursing Assistants at our CIUSSS. On the photo she is visiting Niagara Falls with her daughters Chloe (left) and Mia (right).

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