Meet the new Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Joseph’s Health Care London
A former nurse, leading academic and historian, Margaret Kellow brings a unique perspective to her latest venture – that of Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. It’s also a role that brings her full circle – personally and professionally.
Margaret, who began her two-year term as Chair on June 15, first became involved with St. Joseph’s in 2009 when she joined the board’s Health Care Ethics Committee as a community member. The experience, says Margaret, was “overwhelmingly positive” so she accepted an invitation to join the board in 2012 and become more involved with the hospital.
“It was really fascinating to me to see the careful, thoughtful way issues were examined,” says Margaret about her time on the committee. “I was struck by the Catholic values in action that I saw. It was the best introduction to St. Joseph’s and what St. Joseph’s is all about.”
Since joining the board, Margaret’s impressions have been shaped by the leaders and board members she works with – individuals she refers to as “interesting, amazingly competent and principled, who live the values they articulate and who are deeply committed to delivering excellent patient care to the community we serve.”
Margaret is a professor emerita of history at Western University. But her first career was as a registered nurse, receiving her diploma from St. Michael’s Hospital School of Nursing in Toronto in 1968. She worked full and part time for 10 years at Victoria Hospital in London.
While raising her family, Margaret began university studies and received her bachelor’s degree in history in 1982 and her master’s in 1984, both from Western University. She went on to receive her PhD in history from Yale University in 1993.
Appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of History at Western in 1994, Margaret taught in the graduate and undergraduate programs and rose through the ranks, serving in a number of administrative roles including Associate Dean of Social Science, Chair of the Department of History and Director of the Centre for American Studies. She retired in 2015.
As Chair of St. Joseph’s Board of Directors, Margaret is eager to represent the organization and help shape its future through the development of a new strategic plan – a primary responsibility of the board. That work is now underway and will involve gathering the thoughts and ideas of patients, residents, families, staff, physicians, volunteers, trainees, partners and the community.
“I’ve come to understand that health care is in a very transitional phase in the province and in the world,” says Margaret. “Health care is no longer about being hospitalized. It’s about health, wellness, education and an integrated system of care that includes the community. St. Joseph’s is playing an important role in this new era of care and there’s more we can do. I would like to see us build on our strengths, which are considerable, and for the community to have a better understanding of what we are all about.”
The Catholic faith plays an important role in Margaret’s personal life. At St. Martin of Tours Parish, she was a member and later President of the parish council. She is now a member of St. Michael’s Parish.
In addition, the Sisters of Joseph have been part of Margaret’s life since childhood – from the “dear Sister who tried to teach me to play the piano as a little kid”, to the Sisters in nursing school at St. Michael’s Hospital, to those who were at the bedside when she gave birth to two of her children at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia and two children here at St. Joseph’s. St. Joseph’s in London was also her hospital of choice when her children “fell out of trees” or otherwise needed care.
In a way, says Margaret, her leadership role at St. Joseph’s closes “a big loop” in her personal and professional life.
“It feels like coming home.”