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Four screen grabs of Dr. Bram Rochwerg giving a webinar
April 14, 2020

ICU webinars connect staff at Juravinski Hospital

Dr. Bram Rochwerg is a medical leader in the intensive care unit at Juravinski Hospital who is taking on an extra role to support his colleagues. Along with his regular duties as an ICU physician, researcher, professor, and hospital administrator, now, he’s also a video blogger.

Once a week or so, he’s recording a live webinar to answer questions from his colleagues about ICU care for COVID-19 patients and more.

“Not that I have all the answers,” says Rochwerg, “But having the research insights and contacts, I was able to help answer some questions. In order to avoid answering the same questions repeatedly and to make sure that messaging was consistent, we decided to do this as a webinar or Q&A session.”

Rochwerg credits ICU Clinical Manager, Liz Feres, with the webinar idea. She credits him with delivering.

“Bram is knowledgeable, supportive, and responsive,” says Feres. “At the request of the team, he is sending out videos related to COVID-specific topics. He has demonstrated incredible leadership though simulation and very timely responses to any questions.”

Addressing anxiety

Both say the ICU team is tightknit and well prepared. But they sensed the group was walking on pins and needles due to the newness of the virus and the ongoing changes required to prepare for it.

“Anxiety and uncertainty amongst the team was high,” says Rochwerg. “Mostly around the huge amount of unknowns. And although there were many resources out there like social media, and hospital-wide emails and webinars, we wanted to add a layer of personalization. This allows the team to hear from someone they know directly, who can address their specific ICU questions.”

Empathy and directness

At the start of a recent video, Rochwerg shifts in his chair, his glace alternating between a list of questions off to the side, and then back into the computer’s camera. He’s sitting in a familiar room at the hospital. Over his left shoulder, an eyesight chart with the big letter E at the top hangs on the wall.

Rochwerg is wearing a standard green hospital scrubs shirt and somehow looks both energized and slightly worn. He waves at the screen and greets viewers.

“Good morning everyone. It’s Friday, April third at eleven-thirty in the morning. A pleasure to provide a third installment specifically targeted to nursing, allied health and ICU staff at the Juravinski Hospital,” he starts off in the 20-minute video.

Throughout the webinar series, Rochwerg answers questions from colleagues with empathy and directness. He uses language and examples specific to the Juravinski Hospital and the ICU. He provides context from the wider hospital situation and from the situation in Toronto, the region, and across the province. He also addresses the uncertainties of the situation and acknowledges the feelings staff might be having.

He’s confident and professional, at the same time projecting some warmth to his audience.

Customized messaging

“I really think the material is customized to our team,” he says. “That’s part of what I like about doing the videos. I envisioned talking to and directing messaging to my colleagues and friends in our unit.”

Critical care program secretary Desneige Robitaille says the webinars have been well-received by the team.

“Bram has been amazing,” she says. “He’s happy to share information and answer any questions staff might have. He has been a light through this situation within the unit.”

To date, Rochwerg has produced four videos.

“I would like to acknowledge our whole critical care team who are working to provide care to the sickest patients in the hospital,” says Feres. “The webinars are one way that the team is equipped with the practical knowledge to respond to the virus. The leadership team in critical care, including Bram, Louise Brady, and I, feel strongly about providing the most support possible to our team.”