1st Place Winner:
Pauline Voon –BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Providence Health Care
It is a great pleasure to write this letter to nominate Pauline Voon for a #Hospital News Nursing Hero Award. In the four years that I have known Pauline as supervisor of her role as a Research Associate with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, I have witnessed her many exceptional achievements in her professional, civic and community work.
Pauline is a HIV/AIDS Registered Nurse who has worked in several acute, community, global health, and research settings. Currently, she is an Addiction Nursing Fellow at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and a Doctoral student in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. Her research and nursing practice focuses on chronic pain and opioid addiction among marginalized populations in Canada. Obviously, these are some of the most pressing public health concerns in Canada today, and there is a desperate need for research, clinical, and policy leadership in this area. In this regard, Pauline is striving to promote human dignity and reduce health inequities through her doctoral research on the intersection between chronic pain, opioid addiction, and associated health outcomes (e.g., overdose, HIV transmission, and engagement in clinical care and addiction treatment). Pauline’s outstanding research and advocacy in this area includes 8 publications in top-tier pain and addiction journals (e.g., PAIN, The Journal of Pain, Drug and Alcohol Review); 8 peer-reviewed abstracts at international scientific conferences; 29 presentations to clinical, academic and community audiences; and, most recently, an opinion editorial published in the Globe and Mail calling for a federal response to the national opioid overdose crisis.
Pauline’s contributions to evidence-based public health policy and public dialogue are truly exceptional. Pauline stands apart in her ability to not only disseminate her research through traditional channels such as scientific journals and conferences, but also to translate her research skills into calls for policy action, clinical application, and citizen engagement. For example, Pauline was the lead writer of the Vancouver Coastal Health/Providence Health Guideline for the Clinical Management of Opioid Addiction, the first clinical guideline of its kind to comprehensively outline the range of possible evidence-based strategies for managing opioid addiction. This guideline has received significant media attention (e.g., CBC News, Global News) and has been disseminated to more than 50 clinical sites across BC.
Furthermore, Pauline authored a policy report titled Together, we can do this: Strategies to address British Columbia’s prescription opioid crisis. This brief report urged provincial policy makers, regulatory health bodies and clinicians to work together to address the current public health epidemic related to addictive drugs across the province. The report received widespread media attention in more than 200 media outlets (e.g., CBC, CTV, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, The Province) and received over 70 endorsements from BC’s leading addiction and public health clinicians and researchers, including members of the BC Ministry of Health, various Medical Directors of community health organizations throughout the province, and the Provincial Medical Health Officer. Evidently, Pauline has shown a strong commitment to translating research into policy action for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Pauline is also a tireless advocate in the areas of human rights and dignity, responsible citizenship, public policy, and international development. She has dedicated her nursing practice to caring for vulnerable populations affected by HIV/AIDS and addiction. For instance, Pauline has worked at a community HIV clinic and on an acute hospital ward for people living with HIV/AIDS, and she was a volunteer nurse at an inner-city clinic for patients with complex health and social burdens such as addiction and mental illness. Pauline was also a HIV/AIDS Health Programmer with the Ethiopian Nurses Association in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia through an internship with the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian International Development Agency. In Ethiopia, Pauline drafted and presented a policy brief to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health on needle stick injuries and the occupational health of Ethiopian nurses as a global health human resource issue. Pauline has also contributed to policy development for the College of Registered Nurses of BC, and she currently serves on the American Pain Society’s Clinical Guidelines and Resources Committee and Early Career Advisory Group. Currently, as an Addiction Nursing Fellow, she is also leading patient and staff teaching for disseminating takehome naloxone kits to help prevent opioid overdose deaths in the community.
Aside from her nursing contributions, Pauline has also helped found a local chapter of the Heart of the City Piano Program, which provides free piano lessons to disadvantaged children. She was a volunteer piano teacher in this program and acted as the organization’s Internal Director, Secretary and Treasurer. Pauline is also the Secretary for a regional chapter of GlobalMedic, a Canadian emergency response organization that responds to international disasters. Additionally, Pauline taught English to 40 seventh-grade students in Guyana, South America through Youth Challenge International; helped to advise Edmonton City Council on youth-related issues such as bullying, homelessness, and recreation as a member of the City of Edmonton Youth Council; and co-founded a grassroots citizen action group that successfully lobbied for a municipal policy change allowing for unrestricted transit use for students in Edmonton.
In summary, I believe that Pauline is an extremely gifted young nursing leader. I have had the pleasure of supervising over 100 trainees involved in health research, and I believe that Pauline is among the most talented of all. I fully expect that she will soon be a superstar in the areas of nursing research and leadership. Her passion for social justice, combined with her clinic experience, academic skill, and outstanding leadership attributes make her the perfect candidate for a Nursing Hero Award. I give her the highest recommendation possible.
Thomas Kerr, PhD
Professor, Division of AIDS Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Director, Urban Health Research Initiative British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Second Place Winner
Eleanor Miller, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Some people become heroes for a day, others are heroes throughout their career span, but this phenomenal individual is destined to be a hero for a life time. She is described by others as a fierce leader, the calm in the storm, but more importantly she is one of those unsung heroes whose ability to blaze the trail within the health care system will leave a legacy of commitment, courage and strong leadership for a long time. Eleanor Miller has been employed at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for the past twenty eight years. During these years she has worked in Oncology, which at most can be one of the most challenging areas of nursing. Eleanor currently manages this busy in patient medical and Radiation oncology unit.
Eleanor works tirelessly to improve the quality of the patient experience. She takes time out of her busy schedule to round with patients on her unit to ensure that their care needs are met. She thinks that this aspect of her work is often very rewarding since it gives her an opportunity to connect with patients on a very authentic basis. This also helps her to understand what the cancer experience is like for them as well as to look for ways to make their experience more meaningful. It is not unusual for Eleanor to take the time to laugh, sing, or sometimes cry with patients. Her philosophy is that leadership is about building relationships, connecting with individuals and serving with your head and heart.
Eleanor is dedicated to her staff and ensures that there is a culture of support, and inclusivity. She also recognizes the stressful nature of the oncology unit and is constantly looking for ways to support, retain and recognize her team. She has developed a question of the month at staff meetings- questions such as what makes you passionate about the work you do? Or how does the team influence others? Eleanor is hoping to use the feedback as the first published book for staff on the unit. Eleanor is very proud of the work that her team does and recently she implemented a board of awesome on the unit, this is where anyone (patients, families, staff) can share a comment, thought, on an awesome experience that happens on the unit.
Eleanor supports and encourages staff to attend conferences, recently she and some of her team members presented at an oncology conference. This was the first time for some members of the team to present, and so she coached and encouraged them.
Eleanor is fully engaged in a number of initiatives both on the unit, within the program, organizationally, as well as internationally.
At the unit level Eleanor continues to lead her team in a number of quality improvement initiatives. More recently she was engaged in the Quality Dying Initiative – which is an organizational initiative to improve the end of life experience for patients. Eleanor took this initiative to another level by doing a staff survey to understand the staff experience in quality dying. The results of the survey was presented to the unit as well as the program and hospital, she also presented with another colleague at the Palliative & End of Life care conference in Toronto in 2014. As a result of this work Eleanor was invited to sit on the Hospital Quality Dying committee.
Another initiative that Eleanor is passionate about is the unit Chemo Council. Eleanor founded the council approximately a year ago. She chairs this council and provides leadership and guidance to those involved. She is very proud of her accomplishments in this area. On a monthly basis she conducts a “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis” with her team and examines the things that the team does well in terms of chemo management. Other achievements include the completion of a chemo checklist for nurses, as well as safety around chemo management. She also engaged other stakeholders such as other units within the program to discuss chemo impact on medical oncology patients in their area and how to better improve patient care.
Eleanor has done a lot of work on discharge planning she also chairs the discharge planning committee on her unit. The work that she does has definitely made a difference for patients and have caught the attention of others within the organization. Along with her team she completed a study on understanding the discharge planning needs of the oncology team. This provided some very useful information which served as a catalyst for other initiatives, such as the patient discharge checklist, the white board for family meetings which is currently being used by patients on the unit. Eleanor also presented these results to the staff, senior leadership and at the International Conference on Cancer Nursing in Panama. Eleanor currently sits on the Hospital Discharge Committee to discuss, strategize and improve overall discharge planning for patients. More recently, Eleanor initiated with her team the first patient education committee for the unit.
At the organizational level Eleanor’s boundless energy, love for her work and engagement in the work environment motivates her to sit on and engage in other committees. Eleanor is also a member of Sunnybrook International where she is actively involved as a liaison for the Sunnybrook Jamaica Diaspora group. In July of 2014 Eleanor presented at the Jamaica Diaspora Health Forum Canada held at Sunnybrook where she highlighted the role of the oncology nurse at the Odette Cancer Centre. After the presentation a question was raised by a Jamaican nursing delegate as to how they could have more certified oncology nurses in Jamaica- given that there were only four certified nurses in the entire island and two were retired. Eleanor is currently working towards making this possible by helping to build capacity with key stakeholders from Jamaica via the partnership that has been created between Jamaica and Sunnybrook.
Eleanor is a very selfless individual and is always looking for ways to assist others. A few years ago she met an oncology nurse from a low resource country while attending the international oncology conference. Recently the nurse who is from Kenya decided, to do an online oncology nursing course, however she did not have the means to purchase a computer and so she had to travel very far to access the computer. When she shared her story with Eleanor, Eleanor did not hesitate to help this nurse. A friend was travelling to Kenya and so she took the opportunity to purchase a new computer with her own resources and send it over, unfortunately it was returned at the airport because customs would not allow it to go through. On hearing this Eleanor was discouraged but was not ready to give up. She returned the computer to the store and sent the money via Western Union. This is the type of person that Eleanor is – kind, caring, compassionate, a strong and genuine leader.
Eleanor has a cross appointment with the University of Toronto where she provides yearly evaluation of student research, she has also provided career mentorship to a number of students in their final year of studies. She has given students feedback on their resumes, as well as help to prepare them for interviews once they graduate.
Eleanor is a lifelong learner and inspires others to go after their dreams. In March 2016 Eleanor successfully defended her thesis. She is graduating in July with a PhD (Philosophy of Business in Health Care Administration). Her thesis is focused on the meaning of leadership for frontline oncology nurses. She hopes that her work will bring recognition and validation to the excellent work that these nurses are doing on a daily basis.
Sunnybrook Research Institute
Third Place Winner:
Kathy Reid, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Alberta Health Services
My name is Sarah Kane-Poitras, Patient Care Manager, Stollery Ambulatory programs, Edmonton, Alberta.
I would like to nominate my employee Kathy Reid, RN, MN, NP, as a nursing hero for the Hospital News’ 11th annual Nursing Hero Awards.
Kathy, a nurse practitioner with Pediatric Chronic Pain Services at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, has long recognized that students with chronic pain often struggle to accumulate sufficient high school credits to graduate with their classmates, and require summer school or online courses to get the bare minimum credits for a diploma.
In our program at the Stollery, we estimate most of our students miss at least one day of school per week, and approximately 15 to 20 per cent of our adolescents are no longer attending school on a regular basis or in person at all.
Seven years ago, Kathy and a chronic pain clinic psychologist developed and began delivering chronic pain curriculum lessons designed to help teenage patients learn more about their pain. She believed that being in a room with other teenagers who can relate to each other’s pain could be engaging, motivating, and therapeutic.
The cognitive behavioral therapy class teaches students how to manage their pain with relaxation techniques, pace their activities, deal with mood and negative thoughts, improve their sleep and diet, cope with stress and anxiety, improve communication, develop a setback plan, and talk about living life with chronic pain.
Courses are taught at the hospital or in participants’ communities and schools via Telehealth videoconferencing technology, giving all Alberta high school students diagnosed with chronic pain the opportunity to benefit from the program.
Kathy believed that the 10-week pain management program was worthy of high school credits. She encouraged all her students to approach their councilor or principal about the extra credits; and in many cases the school administrators were receptive to granting credits, but not all schools participated.
This inconsistency across the province was unsettling to Kathy, so late in 2014; she approached Alberta Education about credit granting. Alberta Education quickly accepted the proposal and Chronic Pain 35 was approved by Alberta Education in February 2015.
Thanks to Kathy’s hard work, initiative, and proposal to Alberta Education, students who complete the 10-week pain management program through the Stollery Children’s Hospital receive three credits at the Grade 12 level.
Chronic Pain 35 students have to attend all the sessions, complete weekly homework, and demonstrate their learning with a final project that demonstrates their scientific knowledge related to pain; their understanding and engagement in treatment strategies; and their willingness to advocate for themselves.
The program is the first of its kind in Alberta; to date, 20 students have participated and all have received credits or are in the process of finalizing their course work. Eight more students are scheduled to complete the course by April.
By reaching out to Alberta Education, I feel that Kathy went above and beyond her job description. She believes that it is critical that adolescents be provided with the opportunity to continue to learn despite experiencing pain – and she was bound and determined to get credits for all of her students.
To some, three credits may not sound like much, but earning three extra credits means a lot to the patients she works with. More important than that, she continues to create a space where students can relate to each other’s chronic pain – this class leads to new friendships and peer support that extends beyond the classroom.”
Kathy Reid is a pediatric chronic pain crusader and a nursing hero to her patients, their families, and her colleagues.
Patient Care Manager,
Stollery Ambulatory programs, Edmonton, Alberta.