By Emily Dawson
For more than 160 years, Providence Healthcare has sustained a legacy of compassionate care, which staff, physicians and volunteers express and live through our Mission and Values.
“Every day, people across Providence honour our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, by demonstrating their commitment to living the Mission and Values in their work,” said Beth Johnson, the executive director of Mission Integration at Unity Health Toronto.
Providence celebrates Mission and Values Day every January to honour our past, applaud our present, and embrace our future. This special day culminates in the Living our Values Awards ceremony.
“The awards represent one of the highest honours in our organization, recognizing people’s outstanding contributions to our success,” Johnson explained.
This year’s recipients – nominated by their peers - exemplify how the Values come to life in their interactions with patients, residents, families and each other.
Karen Steele, a rehab assistant in our Orthopaedic and Amputee Rehab program, was the first award recipient. Her nomination reveals how she embodies the Value of Human Dignity: “Everyone has intrinsic value and is worthy of respect.”
One story illustrates her ability to truly connect with patients and to help them maximize their abilities. Karen was working with a patient who was quite depressed. He was not motivated to get out of bed to participate in therapy.
Early on, she developed a rapport with him by asking him about his interests and found out that he was a classical music fan.
Karen came into work one day with an old iPods she no longer used, after spending hours loading it with classical music. She gave the iPod to her patient, and he was thrilled. It was a turning point, as he started to engage in his therapy with greater enthusiasm and commitment.
Her colleagues also shared a story of a patient with severe edema, who was unable to find shoes or non-slip socks that fit.
Karen used her sewing skills to modify non-slip socks. She cut them in half and sewed on straps so that the patient could slip them on like sandals, so that he didn’t have to walk barefoot through the hospital.
Dr. Richard Brodie, the physician in our Palliative Care program, received the Value of Compassionate Service in recognition of his commitment to “attending to the needs of every person with thoughtfulness, understanding and sensitivity.”
His nomination particularly highlighted his special skill in helping patients and families during difficult end-of-life discussions and decisions.
In one instance, a young mother with advanced breast cancer was struggling with the decision of changing her advance care plan to a “Do Not Resuscitate.”
Dr. Brodie led a family meeting with the patient and her husband, sensitively and tactfully navigating this critical discussion.
He patiently answered all the patient’s questions and concerns and explained the risks and benefits of her decision. By the end, everyone was at ease knowing the positive outcome. Most importantly, the patient was at peace with her decision.
Erika Solomon, a Registered Practical Nurse from the Stroke and Neuro Rehab program, was also a recipient of the Compassionate Service Award.
Erika’s colleagues appreciate her overwhelming capacity to care for the well-being of others.
One of her nominators shared a story about a patient who was speaking with Erika’s colleague about his roommate’s family member, who was causing disruption.
After relaying the details of his concerns, he suddenly said, “I want you to know that how this person treated Erika is wrong. Erika has shown nothing but compassion and kindness, but when she politely declined to get involved in the family dispute, they ‘lost it on her’.”
He continued, “Erika handled the entire situation professionally and continued to look after that patient as if none of the negative interaction had occurred.”
“We extend our deepest gratitude and congratulations to our three recipients, and offer thanks to all our colleagues at Providence who uphold the Values in their daily work,” said Johnson.