Interview: Dr. Calvin Cheng, Geriatrician


September 18, 2019

Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m Dr. Calvin Cheng, and I have been a Geriatrician at Humber River Hospital for almost 15 years.

In one sentence, how would you explain what a Geriatrician does?

Dr. Calvin Cheng

“Before the new Humber River Hospital opened, I was invited to be part of the committees that ensured the Hospital was built with seniors care in mind,” says Dr. Cheng. “There are so many ways that Humber is positioned to be a leader in seniors care.”

Geriatricians are doctors who specialize in diseases associated with aging.

What makes you proud of how seniors are cared for at Humber?

I think that there are two important elements to providing quality seniors’ care:

The first is that we are able to provide great care for seniors when they are in our Hospital. Before the new Humber River Hospital opened, I was invited to be part of the committees that ensured the Hospital was built with seniors care in mind. Our exam rooms have space for a family member to accompany our senior patients, and our Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit is dedicated to treating seniors needing acute care in our Hospital. Our elderly patients are more likely to experience delirium in a hospital setting, which can extend their stays here, so we are developing programs like our Delirium Stewardship so that we can prevent or quickly respond to delirium when it’s detected.

The second is having programs focused on helping seniors transition back into their communities and preventing seniors from ending up back in our ER. Our new Humber’s Elderly Assess and Restore Team (HEART) is helping to ensure seniors maintain or even improve their levels of independence while they’re here. We have a great falls prevention program. And we have nurses who can follow seniors back into their community to make sure they have the resources they need.

What is the most interesting way technology is being used at Humber?

a nurse helps a senior patient out of bed

“Our new Humber Elder Assess and Restore Team (HEART) is helping to ensure seniors maintain or even improve their levels of independence while they’re here,” says Dr. Cheng. “In this next phase of the Command Centre, there will be a specific tile for monitoring senior patients who are at risk of losing functionality during their stay”

The Command Centre, our hospital’s “mission control”, has so much potential when it comes to seniors care. In this next phase of the Command Centre, there will be a specific tile for monitoring senior patients who are at risk of losing functionality during their stay, as part of the HEART Program. We’re also looking towards using wearable technologies so that we can monitor patients at home for things like falls and dehydration, and respond to issues before they become emergencies.

We are also starting to offer more internet consultations, so that patients can speak to a Geriatrician remotely. Right now we do about two or three a month, but it’s an area we are growing into.

What is something awesome you have done in the last year?

We just hired a fifth Geriatrician who will be starting this fall. I’m really excited about how having five Geriatricians will allow our roles to evolve. It’s a great opportunity to start thinking outside the box.

What inspires you?

I have been thinking more about my legacy – What did I do with my life? – And I think there are so many ways that Humber is positioned to be a leader in developing better models for seniors care. There is so much that can be done at this Hospital and we have the opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.