We celebrate the unsung heroes on the front lines of the cancer and kidney care systems. Every day these wonderful caregivers exhibit extraordinary and compassionate patient care and we are honoured to recognize the recipients of the 10th annual Human Touch Award.
Watch the 2016 Human Touch Award Opening Ceremony Video here:
2016 Human Touch Awards Recipients
Staff Awards (Kidney care):
Dr. Michelle Hladunewich
Michelle Hladunewich is a dedicated nephrologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre who knows how difficult it can be for kidney patients to make important decisions about their treatment, so she makes every effort to provide them with the information they need. Michelle works tirelessly to get her patients the treatment they need, whether that means working with drug manufacturers to ensure a patient receives coverage for an expensive medicine prior to a kidney transplant, working with lawyers to help patients with immigration issues receive access to the care and medications they require, or spearheading a review of a medication that could slow the progression of kidney disease and potentially prevent the need for dialysis. Michelle continues to inspire her colleagues with her thoughtful approaches. She has fostered a committee to ensure patients could provide input into the creation of a new kidney centre. Michelle also works with women who have kidney disease and are looking to get pregnant, allowing each woman to remain in good health throughout pregnancy and to deliver healthy babies.
Anthony Conti is a true leader in the Nephrology Program at Health Sciences North. The registered nurse is a well-respected mentor to his peers, a source of humour and positivity to his patients, and a wealth of knowledge who doctors often refer their students to for more information. Anthony takes the time to listen to his patients to make sure they receive the treatment and support they need. One example of this was a time when Anthony heard the story of a local resident who was experiencing kidney failure, as a result of ongoing cancer treatment, and was in need of dialysis. There were initially no dialysis spaces available at the centre where the patient was receiving cancer treatment, which meant he would have to travel to a location 45 minutes away, three times a week, to receive his dialysis treatment. This was on top of alternate days when he received his cancer treatment at the local centre. As this diagnosis came over the holiday season, Anthony took it upon himself to work closely with the nursing and scheduling staff at the patient’s cancer centre to find a way to fit in his dialysis treatments. This allowed the patient to get all the treatment he needed close to home, allowing him to spend the holidays with his family. This is just one example of Anthony’s inspiring approach to meeting the needs of his patients.
As a dietician supporting kidney services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Holly Freill knows a healthy diet can be essential to a person undergoing dialysis treatment. As Holly’s patients come from different backgrounds and often face various issues, she takes the time to learn about each patient and create a diet plan to fit the unique needs of each person and their family. One issue that she has identified in the community is a lack of affordable, nutritious and safe food, which can often make it challenging for people with kidney disease to integrate healthy eating into their existing lifestyles. Creating diet plans customized for each patient has been one way to break through this barrier. Over the past holiday season, Holly went the extra mile by organizing a food hamper drive for her patients. Each hamper included a breakfast and dinner meal including ‘kidney friendly’ food items. Holly reached out to high school students to volunteer their time to help assemble the hampers, and organized a special event to present them to each person.
Volunteer Award (Kidney care):
Gary Buchanan (Volunteer Award Recipient)
Gary Buchanan understands the importance of inspiring the next generation to give back. As a dialysis support volunteer with the Peterborough Regional Renal Program, he trains new volunteers on the basics of kidney disease. Gary recognizes the need to create a volunteer program that will be a part of the centre for years to come, which is why he reaches out to youth volunteers to engage them in the program from a young age. His enthusiasm has inspired volunteers to want to give more of their time to helping people with kidney disease. He even created a new volunteer role in the program – the patient visitor position. As the point-of-contact between volunteers, staff and patients, Gary is the gatekeeper of information. He recognizes patient needs, gaps in the program, and the unique set of skills that each volunteer brings.
Staff Awards (Cancer):
Michael Bennett is a true example of going above and beyond the call of duty. An integral member of the team at The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County Inc., the social worker has become a local leader in palliative care. Michael brings an inspiring perspective to work each day as he focuses on helping patients change their outlook from “dying from” cancer to “living with” cancer. He works with his patients, and advocates on their behalf, to ensure they receive the best palliative and end-of-life care. His efforts in making his patients’ final wishes come true is a testament to the compassion and dedication he brings to work each day. Some examples of this include a time when Michael helped a patient celebrate his graduation from a Master’s program and another occasion when he arranged a personal concert for a patient with her favourite band. Michael has even organized a trip to the Bahamas to help a patient achieve her dream of swimming with the dolphins.
Kelly Brockington’s persistence, dedication and passion have been instrumental in providing mental health services to hundreds of patients in search of relief from the fear, anxiety and depression that often accompany a diagnosis of cancer. The registered nurse led an initiative at The Scarborough Hospital to provide enhanced services to people with cancer by incorporating therapy into their treatment plans. Kelly works tirelessly with patients, building a trusting relationship and using open communication to help ease anxiety and fears about having a terminal illness. She uses special behavioural therapy techniques to guide patients to accept and come to peace with their diagnoses. Kelly is a proud supporter of this initiative and continually mentors and coaches new staff to further develop the program.
For over 20 years, Glenda Towne has been a leader in providing care that is personalized for each individual. In her role as a diet technician at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Glenda knows that food can have a significant impact on the physical and emotional well-being of a person being treated for cancer. She understands that for some people who are faced with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, food is the only thing they feel they can control. Glenda takes the time to listen to each person to ensure that their food tolerances and preferences are taken into account each day. She even makes sure they receive a treat on special occasions like birthdays. Glenda takes patient safety seriously, and uses her keen attention to detail to pick up on any inconsistencies in the hospital’s food service system that can lead to safety concerns.
Volunteer Award (Cancer):
If there’s anyone who understands how overwhelming the cancer treatment process can be, it’s Paula Pigeon. In her own words, the volunteer patient and family advisor at Algoma District Cancer Program has made it her duty “to make complex care a little less complex for the cancer patient”. A breast cancer survivor, Paula uses her own personal experiences to ease the fear and anxiety of people with cancer and their families. One example of this is a hair-loss journey photobook that Paula created to document her hair loss throughout her treatment. She often shares this book, along with a virtual patient journey video she created to help prepare new patients for their visit to the centre. She strives to make life a little bit easier for people with cancer and has been key in assisting patients and their families with things like negotiating reduced rates at local hotels and fundraising to cover hospital parking fees.
Learn more about the Human Touch Awards