Hospital News’ 2021 Nursing Hero Winner – Ordia Kelly, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Ordia Kelly RN

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Ordia Kelly, a registered nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is Hospital News’ 2021 First Place Nursing Hero! Ordia received nominations from many of her colleagues – some provided examples of her nursing skills and expertise, others listed the extra things Ordia does in her unwavering effort to provide the best patient care possible to every single patient.  What really stands out about Ordia is not the impact she has on her patients and all she does for them – it’s the way she uplifts her entire team to do their best for patients as well. Her impact is felt by patients she may never even meet because she inspires her colleagues to also provide the best patient care.   Ordia is the essence of a hero – she leads by example and her most profound impact comes from inspiring others to be better nurses, colleagues, and humans.

Below are some excerpts of the nominations from her colleagues:


“I would like to nominate Ordia Kelly, a registered nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, as a Nursing Hero. A long-time Team Lead (TL) Nurse on the C6 General Internal Medicine Unit here at Sunnybrook, Ordia truly exemplifies a Nursing Hero as demonstrated by her compassion, kindness, and ability to elevate the work of colleagues around her. With Ordia, days never seem as stressful knowing you have her support and team player attitude as she manages her extensive duties as TL with a sense of humour and a smile.

Ordia is immensely helpful in ensuring the safety of our patients. If I ever have concerns that a patient might be at risk of falling and in need of additional support or prevention strategies, Ordia always finds a way to shuffle the unit, ensuring the patient has a bedside observer, or a room closer to the nursing station. Recently, Ordia has shifted to a bedside nursing role, where I have seen her go above and beyond for her patients; spending extra time with them, ensuring they are comfortable and feel well-cared for. I worked with a patient recently who shared that she had a “great nurse” today, and sure enough, it was Ordia looking after her. In this time of uncertainty and as many patients are fearful of being in hospital due to COVID-19, Ordia goes about her nursing duties with a sense of calmness and assuredness, which in turn helps her patients and her colleagues.”  – Emily Brewer, Registered Physiotherapist

“I have had a lot of little moments working with Ordia over the last few years where I thought to myself ‘wow, she’s crazy good at her job.’  Be it her outstanding memory for patient details, or her ability to seamlessly execute various duties, she is always positive, funny and dedicated to her role.

Most notably, Ordia was the first TL on our first COVID unit when we officially opened last year, shifting from her home unit to a new environment with an entirely new patient population.  As cases began to stack up, she always remained a calm leader for her staff, again invaluable as we went through various iterations of COVID-19 management and shifts in PPE and practice and having her support, collaboration and leadership truly aided in launching the COVID-19 unit at the most uncertain time in the pandemic.  This, at its core, is the very nature of above and beyond.  In a flurry of uncertainty and anxiety that saw many staff lashing out and feeling afraid to come to work, Ordia never complained, but instead used her experience from the SARS epidemic to take measured responses and patiently help those around her. I can think of few more deserving candidates than Ordia.” – Amber Linkenheld-Struk, Infection Prevention and Control


There are so many examples of Ordia going above and beyond:

  • A homeless non-verbal patient was admitted for quite some time pre-COVID. Ordia bought clothes for the patient, took the patient on walks, and found a way to communicate with the patient and he eventually became somewhat verbal.
  • Rallied members of the team together to get another homeless patient a bag with some clothing and toiletries etc. even bringing in some of her husband’s clothing for the patient.
  • There was a palliative patient whose son and fiancé wanted to have their wedding on the unit before the patient passed away so he could witness their union. The entire team was very helpful in assisting the coordination of the wedding but Ordia went the extra mile to ensure patient and family had the room that was best suited to host the wedding and was very accommodating to their other needs for the special day.
  • She has led the team through several changes in management, moving units and construction when she was instrumental in developing and assisting with the planning for the move and construction as well as mentoring and being a great support for new team members including management.
  • She is always celebrating her colleagues on the unit, whether it is personal, such as a baby or wedding shower, or celebrating the different health professionals when it’s their week or month. Pre- COVID she always arranged tea-time to celebrate these events and always gave flowers and a gift.
  • She has an incredibly special rapport with the physicians. I have heard several returning resident physicans tell her how much they miss her and that she is one of the best TLs they have ever worked with. The doctors appreciate how thorough she is and her ability to follow up and with getting patient’s appointments etc. in timely manner which assists with timely discharges etc.
  • One of the things that always stands out about Ordia is her everyday demeanor and the way she treats others. She does not get upset or flustered even on the busiest of days or when staff/patients or families are upset she does not allow it to get the better of her. Far from it, she has a great ability to de-escalate situations and show great understanding to others concerns. – Nicole Hinds, the C6 Patient Administrative Associate

“I would like to nominate Ordia for the “Nursing Hero” award as she is the most hard working and compassionate nurses I have ever worked with. When I was working with her, she was the team lead on and always went above and beyond to not only complete her job flawlessly but also to ensure that all of the team members and patients were well supported.  For example, when we started on the covid unit, Ordia went out of her way to check up on me everyday to see how I was feeling because she knew I was really nervous. I don’t know how any of us would have survived the first wave of the pandemic without her. Even after the wave, she continued to be a calm and supportive face on the unit. In addition to her compassion, she was always the most helpful and knowledgeable nurse. Regardless of the question or problem, Ordia always has an answer and handles any issue with absolute grace. A day with Ordia as team lead was always happier, less stressful and way more organized.” – Jennifer Mutrie, Physiotherapist

“As a Registered Dietitian (RD) who worked with Ordia Kelly as my former Team Lead, I have personally been inspired by the tremendous leadership, compassion, and commitment Ordia displays towards her profession, her team, and her patients. During our daily team rounds, Ordia consistently ensures that our clinical plans were well-coordinated and aligned well with the delivery of patient centered care.”  -Michelle Lau, registered dietitian

“Ordia has always gone the extra mile as team leader. There have been numerous instances where her passion for patient-centered care has shined through. For example, there was an individual that was being discharged back out in the community and he did not have much in terms of personal items. Ordia quickly created a self-care package filled with clothes, hygiene products and other items of comfort. He did not expect such kindness and support upon discharge, but he was so grateful. Ordia always treats every team member with respect, kindness, and patience. She has always been a leader while creating space for others to be heard and appreciated.” – Harmeet Sidhu

“I first worked with Ordia more than 10 years ago when I was a medical student. She was the first Team Lead or charge nurse I ever knew in my career and I still distinctly remember how much of a welcoming and supportive presence she was, even though she probably meets dozens of medical students every year. Over recent years, Ordia has become one of my most trusted colleagues. Everyone on her team knows how hard she works and her dedication to her patients and her team; in her role as Team Lead, it was not unusual for many of us to be bothering her about still being here well after her shift ended, and trying to get her to go home; but Ordia always quietly finished her work, with absolute grace. She is such a genuine and caring person, pre-COVID helping to organize moments to honour the work of the team like the afternoon tea or when people left the team.” – Dr. Zac Feilchenfeld

“I have worked as a staff physician at Sunnybrook for about 12 years now and have worked at other major academic hospitals in Canada and the US over my 25 year career. Ordia Kelly is one of the best nurses and unit managers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  First, Ordia manages to work tirelessly, from the moment she arrives early in the morning to late in the afternoon when she finally leaves, while multitasking so many things I often can’t keep track, yet always manages to make it look effortless and have a smile on her face. She could be simultaneously sorting out patient assignments, dealing with a difficult situation involving a patient’s family, overseeing an unexpected minor infection control crisis requiring the swapping of  patients across various rooms on the ward. There’s an expression: ‘if you want something done, give it to the busiest person.’ Ordia is a perfect example of the truth of that adage. No matter what the situation is, Ordia will just roll up her sleeves, she always has a smile on her face, and demosntrates deep humanity when it comes to helping patients. I remember just a few weeks ago a deaf patient with cancer who was miserable over various issues he was facing telling me “on top of it all, I don’t even have a brush for my COVID long hair.”  I knew Ordia would have the solution and, sure enough, she went and fetched a bag, and a brush.  She had clearly prepared herself with various items patients might need. The same was true for a homeless man with no suitable jacket or shoes being discharged in winter and Ordia went and fetched both from a collection she had amassed over the years. Sunnybrook has many excellent nurses, but I can’t think of another who I would rather see receive recognition as a Nursing Hero.” – Dr. Kaveh Shojania



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