There were 13 nominees for this year’s Sisters of St. Joseph Awards of Excellence and four recipients.
Twenty-eight years ago, Chris Fraser was 23 and exploring the world when she was swept off an ocean-side cliff by a rogue wave while traveling in South Africa. The accident left her a paraplegic.
After intensive rehabilitation at Parkwood Institute’s Main Building (then Parkwood Hospital), Chris returned to university, completed a degree in nutrition and, in 1995, came back to Parkwood Institute, this time as a registered dietitian, joining the same team that made her recovery possible. Dedicated to improving the lives of people with acquired brain injury and spinal cord injury, Chris’s remarkable journey has earned her one of four a 2016 Sisters of St. Joseph Awards for Excellence.
Established in 1990, the awards honour staff, physicians and volunteers who share the remarkable attributes of the Sisters of St. Joseph - excellence, positive attitude, reliability, honesty, efficiency, creativity, respect, caring, compassion, empathy and appreciation for the work of others.
To date, there have been a total of 164 individual and team recipients – and hundreds of nominations. Individuals and teams are nominated by their colleagues, who have described each nominee’s acts of support, collaboration, caring and innovation, All are nominated by their colleagues. Without knowing anyone’s identity, an awards selection committee comprised of representatives from across the organization selects the recipients. To be nominated and to be a recipient is a distinguished honour.
The 2016 recipients are:
- Chris Fraser, registered dietitian, Regional, Spinal Cord Injury and Acquired Brain Injury rehabilitation programs, Parkwood Institute
- Izabela Irving, registered nurse, Veterans Care Program, Parkwood Institute
- Sharon Molnar, pharmacist, St. Joseph's Hospital
- Cathy Slaa, Coordinator, Treasury and Capital, St. Joseph's Hospital
Creative, resourceful and known for her random acts of kindness, Chris, a dietitian with the rehabilitation programs at Parkwood Institute, never turns down an opportunity to make a difference, say her colleagues. She considers all aspects of care when improving the quality of life of her patients. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the pressure ulcer prevention and treatment practice, and has contributed to the self-management work on bladder care on her unit.
A patient advocate at heart, Chris was an inaugural member of the City of London’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee with the objective to make London barrier-free. She also established the “Possibilities Project” to provide financial assistance, equipment and support for spinal cord injury or acquired brain injury patients with financial challenges after their injury. The Possibilities Project has never declined any request for assistance.
Chris’ dedication and passion for her work is exemplified through her commitment to providing patients with the best possible care through the integration of research, innovation and clinical practice. She was an integral part of the Online Physical Activity and Nutrition Project and led a seated aerobics classes for people in the London area with a spinal cord injury by video-conference. She continues to lead a seated aerobics class at the Parkwood Fitness Centre where she meets everyone with openness and kindness.
Chris routinely shares her personal experiences and strategies with patients to promote confidence and independence. She warmly opens up her customized home to patients and shares her story and experience in building an accessible home. Chris will also show people her modified vehicle and how it operates. These experiences are invaluable for patients and provide a comfort that they too can have independence in their new life.
An expert in managing challenging behaviours of individuals with dementia, Izabela, a nurse in the Veterans Care Program, stands out for her a compassionate and caring manner that epitomizes resident focused care, say colleagues. Her special touch can turn around the most difficult moments. With the afternoon shift particularly challenging as it’s a time of day when many residents become restless or anxious, Izabela chooses to arrange her schedule to be present on the unit and engaged with the residents.
“This is one of her great strengths - the ability to adapt in a busy and challenging environment while still keeping the patient at the centre of care,” say colleagues. "This practice makes a difference in ensuring that our veterans are well respected and cared for.”
Always going the extra mile to ensure a fulfilling life for the veterans, Izabella comes up with creative solutions, whether it’s ensuring a coffee-loving veteran routinely enjoys a cup from Tim Hortons, or advocating for a companion to provide support and additional comfort for a resident with significant anxiety.
“When we walk onto the unit and there is a positive vibe and an overall calm, this is the telltale sign Izabela is working, before you even see her,” says colleagues.
Described as generous and giving, Sharon, a pharmacist in the Prescription Shop at St. Joseph’s Hospital, cares deeply for customers and has a huge heart, say colleagues. When a woman came into the Prescription Shop in a very bad mental state and looked like she had not eaten for a while, Sharon took the time to buy her a donut and coffee then drove her to a community agency to make sure she got the help that she needed. Sharon has been known to drive to a patient’s house outside of work hours to make sure they are clear on changes to their medication or to go over a dosette to ensure they understand everything.
Sharon says her dad, also a pharmacist, was her mentor. “I saw how he treated customers.” In fact, several members of her family are pharmacists, including her husband, three brothers and two sisters-in-law.
With her extensive knowledge, Sharon is a go-to person for her colleagues and will take on any challenge, particularly if it means advocating for patients to ensure they get the medications they need. She will do what it takes. When one long term care resident was prescribed an antibiotic eye drop not covered by the government and couldn’t afford to pay for it, Sharon reached into her own pocket. Colleagues have seen Sharon do this many times.
Tenacious and dedicated, Sharon is a problem solver. If drugs become back ordered or unavailable from the wholesaler, she often locates the medications through other channels.
“I don't know what we would do without her,” says one colleague.
Known for her positive attitude, empathy and the respect she consistently shows her team, Cathy, Coordinator for Treasury and Capital in the Finance Department, genuinely cares about the best interests of her staff and customers, say colleagues. With any challenge, she takes the time to talk through and work towards a resolution, always willing to listen and offer insightful solutions.
Cathy’s sense of humour, patience, calmness and coaching skills are a testament to her resiliency and solid leadership, say colleagues. She creates an environment of trust and fairness and has a clear vision of how the team can work together in service to our patients.
Always willing to jump in, Cathy’s takes a "divide and conquer" approach when there is a seemingly daunting task with a tight timeline. Even if it’s not within her normal duties, Cathy will take on tasks to get the job done rather than simply assign the work to her staff. With her optimism and organizational commitment, Cathy knows how to motivate her team.
Cathy’s compassion extends to patients. She often deals with patients who cannot pay their bills. Taking the time to fully understand their situation, she works with patients and other departments at the hospital to come up with solutions while maintaining the important focus on the patient’s health.
To be nominated is an honour
Those considered for the Sisters of St. Joseph Awards are nominated by their colleagues. In addition to the four recipients, this year’s nominees were:
- Christine Butters, OTA/PTA, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care
- Sandy Rycroft, registered nurse, Post Anesthetic Care Unit, St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Pam Roe, Coordinator, Adolescent, Dual Diagnosis and Concurrent Disorders programs, Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building
- Michelle Cummings, registered nurse, Complex Care, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building
- Liz Froats, registered nurse, Clinical Investigations Unit, St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Heather Clarke, registered practical nurse, Veterans Care Program, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building
- Donna Lozier, registered practical nurse, Specialized Geriatric Services, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building
- Connie Wiepjes, dietary aide, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building
- Jennifer McPhee, therapeutic recreation aide, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care
- Tim Prouse, volunteer, Veterans Care Program, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building
- Stephanie Bannister, registered practical nurse, MV4, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care
- Sherry Mitchell, health records technician, St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Sherry Gabison, registered nurse, Ivey Eye Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Amputee Rehabilitation Team, 4AE and Outpatients, Parkwood Institute’s Main Building