Hospital Emergency Rooms Need Better Pain Management

Pain is the primary reason people go to a hospital’s emergency room (ER), yet addressing this pain is far down the list of priorities in the ER setting, which infuriates patients and creates a hostile hospital environment for medical practitioners and patients alike.

I talked with 15 local residents, randomly selected at the local Tim Hortons, and every single one of them told me that they or a loved one or a friend had visited the ER at the new Humber River Regional Hospital in the past year with acute pain.  While each patient had different conditions and symptoms, they were all outraged that not only was their pain dismissed or ignored by medical professionals, but also that they were often left for hours in isolated rooms, in agony, without any idea when, or if, someone would help them.  More than one patient left after waiting for more than 4 hours and went to a different hospital to seek help for their agonizing pain.

Studies have shown that reduction of pain levels directly translates into patient satisfaction of ER visits.  Prompt pain management also improves mood, decreases length of hospital stay, and even decreases mortality rates!  With Ontario facing worsening patient satisfaction in overcrowded ERs, why is pain management so far down the list of priorities during ER visits?  

While pain management does present challenges, medical practitioners in ER departments are all trained in proper treatment practices and guidelines.  Something as simple as administering a standard dose of an over-the-counter painkiller may make the difference between incredible suffering and being able to tolerate the already frustrating wait times.  It is understandable that triage in the ER must focus on those with the most severe medical trauma, which doesn’t always match the pain people feel. Nevertheless, all patients should be receive rapid pain management during the triage process, not hours later when a doctor finally gets to them (  As the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada has argued, “controlling pain early in the presentation of a patient’s illness or soon after an injury is an important duty of healthcare practitioners”.  To that effect, all hospitals should “develop and sustain comprehensive pain management systems and protocols” in their emergency rooms.  Such a simple thing will go a long way to improving the experiences of patients visiting Ontario’s hospitals.  That’s truly “patient care reinvented”.

Community Brews – Bellwoods Brewery: Ghost Orchid and Wizard Wolf

A little over five years ago, Mike “Smoothie Master” Clark and Luke “Bureaucracy Wrangler” Pestl founded the Bellwoods Brewery and pub in downtown Toronto.  From day one they battled demand that exceeded the production capabilities of their small facility and attempted to consistently deliver the “most delicious beers that ever existed” to local beer lovers.  Patrons lined up around the corner along Ossington Avenue, sometimes for hours, to taste the latest Bellwoods creation.  Pairing simple, delicious food with surprising and unique brews, the brew pub quickly became locally and internationally famous.

As Bellwoods amassed dozens of brewing awards, including Most Innovative Brewery at the 2016 Golden Tap Awards, a second brewery was opened in late 2016 in North York at 20 Hafis Road, near Lawrence and Keele.  The new brewery’s modern equipment has allowed more regular brewing of the full range of delicious beers that Bellwoods has created over the years.  Its adjoining bottle shop and tasting room allows locals to sample delicious flavour combinations that they may never have encountered in a beer!  The available selection of taps and bottles is updated daily on the website ( so patrons can drop by to snag their favourite brew as soon as it hits the shelves.  Two of my favourite brews Bellwoods brews that you absolutely have to try are Ghost Orchid and Wizard Wolf.

Value Bin Gaming: Life Is Strange – A Multisensory Storytelling Experience

Video games can be expensive, with the latest games on the latest systems coming out at $100 or more. For most people, that’s a huge investment, especially if the game proves to be a disappointment.  To help with this challenge, the Downsview Advocate introduces a periodic column, Value Bin Gaming, where we highlight the gems in the rough of the video game world.

We want to help you play amazing games without setting your wallet on fire! Whether you like to play your video games on Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft consoles, or prefer the control and finesse of a keyboard and mouse for PC gaming, our goal is to bring you the most the gaming art form has to offer at the best bang for your buck.

In this issue we review Life Is Strange, a multisensory interactive storytelling experience originally released over a 10 month period in 2015 as 5 episodes via digital download on Sony (Playstation 3 & 4), Microsoft (Xbox 360 & One), and Steam (PC, Mac, & Linux) online stores. The complete game is now available on a single disc for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.  The game is rated M, recommended for those aged 17 and older.  Since its release it has sold over a million copies and has been nominated for and won numerous video game industry awards including Games for Change’s, Game of the Year and Most Significant Impact awards for 2016.

Life Is Strange sets itself apart with its focus on immersive storytelling.  Developers at Dontnod Entertainment invested heavily in the writing and voice acting from day one.  The result is a life-like, relatable, female protagonist whose decisions, guided by the player, determine how the story unfolds.

Whereas most games relegate women to the stereotypical role of damsel in distress to be rescued by the brash young warrior (or plumber in the case of Super Mario Bros.), heroine Maxine Caulfield, voiced by actress and folk singer Hannal Telle, is at once strong and vulnerable, capable and uncertain—unusually and delightfully human.  As she comes of age in a big and harsh world, she discovers that she has power over the flow of time and unfolding of events.

As the player guides Max through puzzles in the changing environment, an indie folk music soundtrack scored by Jonathan Morali sets the mood, deepening immersion and magnifying the emotions of the characters.  As with many of the games published by Square-Enix, including the Final Fantasy series, the soundtrack is so good it could be enjoyed on its own, sending the listener’s imagination soaring.

The life-like graphics of the game, built with Unreal Engine 3, showcase the power of latest generation gaming consoles yet it still looks excellent on older computers with mid-range video cards.  The artwork lends itself well to the sometimes dream-like aspect of the game’s story and its focus on photography as a plot element.

Best of all, the first episode of Life Is Strange is available for free on all platforms via their respective digital stores! You don’t have to take my word for it that this game is worth your time—Try it out for free and see!  If you find yourself hooked after the first episode, the complete game can be purchased for less than $10 on most digital platforms. The disc version can be purchased at most video game stores for less than $20 on Xbox One and PS4.  Don’t mistake the low price for poor quality.  Rumours online suggest that a television series based on the game is in development, which may explain the publisher’s choice to keep the low price of this excellent game to further build its popularity and increase viewership when the series is released.  We can’t wait!