Embracing Innovation with Dr. Lingsa Jia and the Addiction Medicine Consult Team
Burnaby native, Dr. Lingsa Jia, Local Department Head of Burnaby Hospital’s Addiction Medicine Consult Team (AMCT), embraces innovation as a core concept that affects her work.
Dr. Jia’s role at Burnaby Hospital originated with the formation of the AMCT in 2021 with a goal to create and implement the hospital’s first Addictions Medicine service to help address the rising need for substance use care. With the support of regional collaborators and community partners, the team is seeing incredible progress.
The work of the entire AMCT has been a leading example of bringing change and innovation to the growing community hospital. Prior to their inception, there were limited options for acute addiction services in Burnaby Hospital. Dr. Jia notes that the existing models of addiction care are typically found in larger sites such as St. Paul’s and Royal Columbian Hospital, and less often in community hospitals.
“Many doctors and nurses had inquired about addiction services prior to our team starting, indicating a need for this type of care in our growing community,” explains Dr. Jia. “The AMCT works quite closely with departments like Emergency Medicine, Mental Health, and other in-patient wards to identify addiction-related issues and determine solutions to improve patient care. Part of our focus is to look at opinions, understandings and stigma experienced by a range of people in our community and bridge the gap in care.”
Dr. Jia has been involved in several Quality Improvement projects as the AMCT service evolves to meet the need of patients and their families at Burnaby Hospital. “We are wrapping up an 18-month project aimed at offering Narcan kits to patients admitted to hospital,” says Dr. Jia. “Our team found it especially important that at-risk patients have access to this life-saving intervention to take home with them. We’ve worked to identify patients who can benefit from having access to these kits, which they are able to take home from the hospital and carry with them in their community.”
Her team has also created a website that highlights community and hospital-based resources for clinicians who work with Burnaby residents who may be struggling with addiction challenges. This is accessible to hospital staff, and early feedback from healthcare practitioners and community collaborators has been very positive. Presently, AMCT is also reviewing processes in the Emergency Department with the goal of helping patients who come in with addiction medicine needs and are discharged back to the community.
“Addiction medicine is a relatively new and rapidly evolving field, with continued research to guide new processes and practices,” she shares. “Along with these learnings, it is crucial that our team engages with clinical staff at all levels.”
After working in several hospitals in the Lower Mainland, Dr. Jia was drawn towards Burnaby Hospital, not only from her desire to give back to the community that she grew up in, but also to work in a culture of innovation and growth that she experienced from the very first time she stepped foot in the hospital.
“There’s something unique and quite special about working in Burnaby Hospital,” she shares. “Not only do we have effective and collaborative working relationships, but also friendships. We have a diverse and incredibly close-knit community here, which truly makes a difference because our work is not easy.”
When asked about the upgrades to the hospital through its redevelopment, Dr. Jia expressed excitement for the ability to collaborate with other clinicians and hospital leadership and see the AMCT potentially expand.
“Since 2021, our team has grown considerably and with a soon-to-be expanded hospital, the opportunities for clinical work and research will likely increase,” shares Dr. Jia. “The impact seen by our work is seen in staff interactions with patients that ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.”
Dr. Jia has an optimistic and aspirational view of the future of the AMCT and the entire hospital. “Burnaby and East Vancouver are such diverse areas, and our patients come from all walks of life. My hope for this service is to see it evolve and becomes even more tailored to needs of our community, made possible by openness and learning. One of our focuses will be to use the biopsychosocial model of care – considering social determinants of health and other factors – to provide holistic care for our patients.”