Dr. Victoria Chan always knew she wanted to be a physician in a community hospital.

It’s been more than 20 years since joining Mackenzie Health and she still feels it’s an organization and community where “everyone knows your name and cares about you.”

“The hospital has grown in many ways since I first arrived, we have doubled the number of beds, hired more staff, care for many more patients, yet we continue to carry that community spirit as part of our fabric.” says Dr. Chan, a respirologist who specializes in breathing and sleep disorders. “We still have that close-knit feeling.”

Over the years, Dr. Chan has held progressively senior and key roles within the organization.

For 12 years, she was chief of medicine, tripling the department size and building a supportive team of highly skilled and capable professionals who value quality patient-centred care as much as she does.

“I always believed in bringing on people better than myself and am very proud of the patient care we provide.”

Dr. Chan is also an active member of Mackenzie Health Foundation’s campaign cabinet, which is leading the $250-million Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign for Mackenzie Health.

There, she shares stories that bring to life patients’ needs and highlights the hospital’s work for board members and donors to support the campaign that will help build and equip Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital and enhance care at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.

Her latest role has her leading Mackenzie Health’s clinical transformation project that will bring a new electronic medical record that will go live this summer.

In this role, she helps physicians to learn about, understand and ultimately use the new system, which will help improve care and give clinicians access to the information they need to better care for patients — no matter where the clinician is.

Like many hospitals, she explains, Mackenzie Health still currently charts partly on paper and partly on computer, which can make accessing patient information difficult for the care team.

A fully electronic system will both enhance patient safety and experience.

“It’s a very exciting time,” she says. “We are innovating to provide even better care. The rewards for patients and staff will be immeasurable and I am so excited to be part of it.”

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Julie Ihamaki’s first encounter with Catherine Clothier, a social worker at Mackenzie Health, happened by accident.

It was February 2013 and her father was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the fifth floor. Julie and her mother were feeling overwhelmed. She stepped out of his room, stood there for a moment and began to cry.

“I didn’t know what to do. My mom didn’t know what to do,” Julie said. “Then Catherine just appeared, out of nowhere, and said the right things.”

Her father, William Bell, former Richmond Hill mayor, had slipped on his driveway and broken his arm and hip. He was admitted to Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital for his injuries and to receive physiotherapy. On the third day, the physician caring for Mr. Bell recommended he be moved to the ICU. Mr. Bell, who had chronic kidney disease, could be more closely monitored there. Catherine would become Julie’s touchpoint.

“I didn’t always seek her out to talk but I always looked for her when I visited,” Julie said. “I was comforted by the fact she was there.”

Catherine provided a calming and supportive presence. As part of her father’s health care team, Catherine attended rounds and understood the particular details of Mr. Bell’s case.

“She was on every round, talking to the doctors,” Julie said. “She knew what was happening, so I didn’t have to explain. If I needed to talk to her, I didn’t have to start from scratch.”

As Julie and her family became familiar with the rhythms of the unit, they remained hopeful Mr. Bell would eventually return home. However, as his health began to deteriorate, Julie broached the subject of end-of-life care. Julie, her mother, sister and uncle met with Catherine and Dr. Aviv Gladman to ensure her father’s end-of-life requests were met.

“Dr. Gladman and Catherine were fantastic in their description of what would happen, how it would happen and how we could be involved.”

The family set up vigil and remained at his bedside. Mr. Bell passed away four days later.

The Bell family is deeply grateful for the support they received at Mackenzie Health during the seven months Mr. Bell spent at the hospital. Their gratitude led them to create the William F. Bell Bursary for nurses and allied health care professionals working in the ICU.

“It seemed appropriate to honour him in the place where he passed, among family, friends and within the community,” said Julie. “The experience we had was unusual and sad and long and trying. However, the nurses, doctors, technicians, therapists, chaplain, social workers, volunteers and even the cleaning staff were amazing – we were lucky to have their care, compassion and understanding.”

Catherine Clothier is one of 28 social workers at Mackenzie Health providing compassionate and practical support to patients and their families.

According to Elise Devlin, professional practice leader and social worker, “This is the role we play, we get deeply involved to ensure our patients’ needs are met.”

Anne Li, a social worker in the Nick and Rosanne Cortellucci Family Emergency, listens to patients when they are at their most vulnerable. She aspires to do the seemingly impossible: soften for the family what is a devastating event.

“I see so many situations. There are patients who have just had a stroke, ones who have just learned their cancer has spread to another part of their body or those who have been a victim in a car accident,” Li said. “Things happen so unexpectedly and families have a difficult time coping.”

Being present for them right away, from the beginning, helps Anne assess what the family needs. Elise believes she leads a team of problem solvers who often help patients and their families make decisions they are unable to make themselves.

“I can link them to the right resources,” Anne said. “This includes housing for the homeless, home care for people who cannot return home and financial resources for those unable to work. I help them find the community services they need.”

As professional practice leader, Elise provides support to programs and committees throughout the hospital. If a nurse or staff member senses there is a problem, they often contact her.

“Generally when we get involved, we learn the patient’s and their family’s story. For instance, the family of an ill patient may be reluctant to make decisions about the patient’s care, or seem uninvolved. The health care team always works in partnership with the patient and their family.”

Talking to the family provides insight into their history and dynamics, which may include complex psycho-social factors and stressors such as family violence, financial constraints or caregiver burnout. It is the role of the social worker to respect privacy, remain non-judgmental and support the team by sharing information about strained relationships and environmental stresses.”

Despite dealing with a myriad of unanticipated challenges every day, Elise is remarkably upbeat. She credits her compassionate, resourceful and close-knit team who are always there to support each other. Together, they help see patients and families through what can be the most difficult time in their lives.

She is proud of her extraordinary team.

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Close-knit team of social workers at Mackenzie Health help see patients and families through the most difficult times in their lives.

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Trio of physicians setting an example by championing the Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign through their philanthropic efforts.

‘Amazing’ team at Mackenzie Health helps welcome baby Emily

Parents praise Mackenzie Health medical team that brought their daughter safely into the world.

Finding the right ambassadors is key to the success of any fundraising campaign.

Mackenzie Health Foundation is spearheading the $250-million Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign to build and equip the new Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital and enhance patient care at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital.

Who better to take on a leadership role and champion Mackenzie Health than the physicians who know first-hand the profound impact of philanthropic support: Minimally invasive surgeon, Dr. Luke Bui; Chief and Medical Director of Internal Medicine, Dr. Kar Cheong Lee and Medical Director, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services, Dr. Peter Stroz.

As the poster boy for Picture This, the Foundation’s $5-million campaign to purchase a second, more powerful MRI, radiologist Dr. Stroz knows the direct impact physicians can have on fundraising. As chief of the Medical Imaging Department during Picture This, his photo, in which he is holding a scan, was seen on posters, elevators and television screens throughout Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. His involvement started a conversation – among doctors, staff, patients and visitors – about the need for a new scanner for the Metrus Development Inc. Medical Imaging Department.

“Everyone comes through medical imaging at some point and needs an imaging study,” said Dr. Stroz. “I was willing to do whatever it took to help the Foundation meet its goal,” he added.

Dr. Stroz believes the residents of southwest York Region should have access to best-in-class equipment and world-class care. This led him to join the Exceptional Care Belongs Here Campaign Cabinet, the dynamic team of volunteers, led by Campaign Chair, Greg Sorbara.

“They are an interesting and diverse group of people who are trying their hardest to raise this money,” Dr. Stroz said. “We just want to keep giving to our community. Mackenzie Health is providing tertiary care to much of York Region already so people don’t have to go downtown to get the state-of-the-art treatment they get right here.”

Fellow cabinet member, Dr. Bui joined Mackenzie Health in 2006. He is the past president of the Professional Staff Association, and served as Interim Chief of Staff. Dr. Bui and wife are raising their three children (two were born at the hospital) in Richmond Hill. The town reminds him of his hometown of Owen Sound, but with big city amenities.

He admitted he didn’t know much about the Foundation before getting involved, believing its role was only to fundraise. But he quickly learned that being an ambassador was about building relationships, transparency and being accountable to the community, hospital and donors.

A regular at Foundation events and activities, sharing with donors the impact their gifts are having throughout the hospital – particularly in minimally invasive surgery, his area of specialty – Dr. Bui is genuinely thankful for their support. He knows to create a world-class institution means having the right equipment, as well as the programs and services to meet community needs.

“Donors touch so many lives and it’s important to engage them,” Dr. Bui said. “Donations don’t have just a one-time impact; they benefit the community for years to come. For example, medical equipment acquired through the support of donors enable surgeons to treat many patients.”

“Physicians are in a unique position interacting with patients, administration, allied healthcare, closing the loop,” he said. “I’m passionate about the hospital and I have a genuine interest in strengthening our relationships.”

Dr. Kar Cheong Lee and his wife have lived in Richmond Hill since they were 10 and 11 years old, respectively, and many of his childhood friends continue to call the town home.

“This is where my wife and I plan to bring up our own children,” Dr. Lee said. “As a physician and a friend I chose to seize the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to their health and vitality today and for future generations.”

Dr. Lee’s experience as a patient at Mackenzie Health (after a rock climbing accident in Mexico) has given him wisdom beyond his medical credentials. Experiencing the same vulnerability as the patients he cares for has inspired him to work with physicians, nurses and teams across the hospital to create a truly patient-centred model of care.

Dr. Lee joined the Foundation’s board as the past president of Mackenzie Health’s Professional Staff Association. He has chosen to stay on.

“I decided to remain on the Foundation board to help engage other physicians in supporting the Foundation, whether it be with time or financially,” he said. “I hope when physicians see their physician leaders actively involved in Foundation activities, it will help foster a culture of giving and demonstrate to potential community donors that the physicians at the hospital are supportive of the Foundation.”

 

MORE EXCEPTIONAL CAREGIVERS

Dr. Victoria Chan: A Personable Leader

It’s been more than 20 years since joining Mackenzie Health and Dr. Victoria Chan still feels it’s an organization where “everyone knows your name and cares about you.”

Social Workers img

Providing calm and clarity, social workers provide answers that make a difference

Close-knit team of social workers at Mackenzie Health help see patients and families through the most difficult times in their lives.

The Ambassadors: Mackenzie Health Physicians Join Effort to bring Exceptional Care to Southwest York Region

Trio of physicians setting an example by championing the Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign through their philanthropic efforts.

‘Amazing’ team at Mackenzie Health helps welcome baby Emily

Parents praise Mackenzie Health medical team that brought their daughter safely into the world.

As their baby daughter sleeps peacefully in the stroller at their side, Antoinette and Francesco Porcaro say they will always be immensely grateful for the safe – if somewhat dramatic – arrival of their first child at Mackenzie Health.

After an uneventful and “pretty easy” pregnancy, the last thing they imagined was Emily’s birth by an emergency caesarian section.

Eleven weeks later, they recount how they went to Mackenzie Health on the evening of April 15 on the advice of their physician. Though the pregnancy had been low risk, their experienced physician had noted a temporary decrease in the fetal heart rate.

Upon her arrival, Antoinette received immediate assessment and care. Results from an ultrasound indicated no apparent reason for concern; the baby was OK.

However, Dr. Entisar Badi, the obstetrician on call, made the decision to induce labour and provide close monitoring of the baby’s heart rate. The nurse assigned to care for the couple provided close observation and kept Dr. Badi well informed.

“In my head, I started to play out scenarios,” Francesco admitted, “but I knew it was best to stay calm, for her and for myself.”

However, after a drop in the baby’s heart rate, the soon-to-be parents were advised the baby was fine, but needed to be delivered immediately.

Then, “with no time to think”, Francesco said he was by himself, standing outside the operating room while an emergency C-section was performed.

Minutes later, Emily Elizabeth Porcaro was born.

“I had no idea if she was OK, it was worrisome – then I heard the cry,” recalls the grateful new father with a smile, as he looks down at his sleeping daughter.

“The team was amazing,” said Dr. Badi, who credits part of their preparedness to Mackenzie Health training that simulates emergency scenarios for dealing with everything from obstetric emergencies to postpartum hemorrhages.

For Antoinette, while the experience remains “very overwhelming” in her mind, she joins her husband in praising the speed and efficiency of the caring team that brought their daughter safely into the world.

MORE EXCEPTIONAL CAREGIVERS

Dr. Victoria Chan: A Personable Leader

It’s been more than 20 years since joining Mackenzie Health and Dr. Victoria Chan still feels it’s an organization where “everyone knows your name and cares about you.”

Social Workers img

Providing calm and clarity, social workers provide answers that make a difference

Close-knit team of social workers at Mackenzie Health help see patients and families through the most difficult times in their lives.

The Ambassadors: Mackenzie Health Physicians Join Effort to bring Exceptional Care to Southwest York Region

Trio of physicians setting an example by championing the Exceptional Care Belongs Here campaign through their philanthropic efforts.

‘Amazing’ team at Mackenzie Health helps welcome baby Emily

Parents praise Mackenzie Health medical team that brought their daughter safely into the world.