No matter where staff find themselves in the hospital, the Caring Beyond award will seek them out. Whether below street level in the Radiation Department, perched in a unit on one of the upper floors, at a facility off-site or, as with two recipients, ’floating’ all over the hospital, Caring Beyond will recognize recipients for their exceptional acts of kindness and compassion.
The Caring Beyond committee has had an especially active fall period, trekking throughout the hospital to host five presentations for unsuspecting staff. Nenita Castillo, a PAB on 5 North West, was singled out for the “dedication, care, empathy and support” she offers family and patients “in their most challenging times.” In her nomination letter, then-Assistant Head Nurse in Surgery Carlett Frater wrote of the “shared respect” Ms. Castillo fosters, “which creates tangible engagement across the medical team and the family. Nenita is a true partner, whose superb level of expertise, understanding of the environment and energy instills the team with the confidence to embrace change.”
Surgical Oncology Nurse Samantha Bascombe told Ms. Castillo during the Caring Beyond ceremony, “When you’re not here, the team and the patients—we all miss you. You really deserve this recognition.” PAB Danny Broccoli, who has worked with Ms. Castillo for 23 years, stated that he “never had a partner like her. We’re a great team, like husband and wife, but at work.”
“Our floor has the best team!” exclaimed Ms. Castillo, embracing her colleagues, who had gathered to celebrate her award. “When I see people suffering, I see myself in that situation and do my best to help ease their pain. I just do it from my heart, it’s my nature.”
To calm the anxiety of new patients, Renata Benc, a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Radio-Oncology, initiated and leads weekly information sessions. She informs patients about the trajectory of their treatment and introduces them to their healthcare team. “It makes their course of radiation much less scary,” writes Heather Nathens, a dietician who has worked on a multidisciplinary team with Ms. Benc for 16 years. Ms. Nathens nominated Ms. Benc for the Caring Beyond award, stating that “no matter how busy the clinic gets, she always finds the time to sit with distraught patients, family members, even staff or volunteers.”
Oncology Assistant Head Nurse Lucie Tremblay agreed that Ms. Benc “has always been available and precious to everyone, be it her colleagues, patients or their family members.” It was a sentiment further echoed by Line Bourgeois, a clinical nurse specialist in Hematology. She spoke about the impact of Ms. Benc’s patient-centered approach, saying, “As a nursing leader on a team, it is so important to teach nurses that no matter how busy you are in clinic, you can change the course of treatment by taking one minute to sit with patients.”
Incoming Caring Beyond Co-Chair Lucie Shapiro, from the Humanization of Care committee (HOC), presented Ms. Benc with the customary pin, engraved crystal and letter of thanks from Executive Director Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg. “I’m very honoured to receive this award,” said Ms. Benc. “I’ve been here for nearly 20 years, and it’s been a privilege working with so many wonderful people. Each one of you does what I do,” she said, addressing her assembled colleagues, “offering the best possible patient care—that is our shared vision.”
That vision isn’t contained within the immediate hospital grounds. At the Herzl CRIU Walk-in Centre (located nearby but off the main hospital complex), Isabel Pereira similarly remarked during her award presentation, “I care about the patients, they know that I support them.”
The CRIU chief administrator joked with the large team that came together to honour her, ”My hands are shaking, I don’t get overwhelmed easily!” CRIU coordinators Shari Ajzenkopf and Audrey Bouadana, who submitted the Caring Beyond nomination letter, concurred. “Isabel remains patient no matter what she is confronted with, and has a remarkable ability to resolve difficult situations,” they wrote.
“Isabel is always doing the right thing before anybody’s thought about doing it, it’s as if the CRIU runs on cruise control,” said Dr. Michael Malus, the chief of the Herzl Family Practice Centre, who has worked closely with Ms. Pereira for 21 years. “She’s always a hundred steps ahead of everyone, a true leader,” added Ms. Ajzenkopf. “We’re strong because of her, she’ll say, ‘let’s do it’, not ‘go do it’.”
The CRIU team benefit daily from Ms. Pereira’s “loyalty and generosity”, said Ms. Bouadana. “She is devoted beyond words to her work and cares about each and every one of her employees as though they were her own flesh and blood.” “Despite always being so busy and focused,” said CRIU social worker Rebecca Puterman, “whenever anyone needs anything, Isabel’s door is always open.” Mina Ladores, the Head Nurse at Herzl and the CRIU, spoke on behalf of the nursing group, calling Ms. Pereira “ the picture of dedication”.
For her part, Caring Beyond recipient Susan Rodgers spreads her infectious joy for her work throughout the hospital, says Nurse Dinah Ocansey of the Nursing Resource Centre. Ms. Rodgers joined the JGH in 2007 and worked as an orderly, gaining familiarity with many areas of the hospital including the Emergency Department, Postpartum, Family Medicine and Surgery.
Her wealth of experience was called upon more recently, as she worked closely with Nursing Resource Centre Coordinator Rosalie Johnson in developing the hospital’s Transport Attendant (TA) system. Ms. Rodgers joined the TA team, which officially came together in June 2014, and is dispatched to transport both in- and out-patients to and from every corner of the hospital in either a bed, stretcher or wheelchair. “Susan goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that every patient who comes her way is tended to in the most respectful way and feels safe, secure and in good hands,” said Ms. Johnson, as the Caring Beyond pin, plaque and letter from JGH Executive Director Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg were turned over to Ms. Rodgers by Co-Chair Lucie Shapiro.
Ms. Ocansey describes in her nomination letter one of the typical instances of Ms. Rodgers’ kindness: “She was helping a wheelchair-bound patient, who was accompanied to the hospital by an adult child with mental health behavioural problems. Even though this person was not a patient, Susan cared for him as though he were her patient as well, showing him compassion and respect and taking the time to address his concerns.”
“I love my work, we were pioneers in a way,” Ms. Rodgers said as she accepted her Caring Beyond Award, referring to the TA program, which allows the PABs to remain and help on the units rather than leave to bring a patient to, for instance, have tests performed.
The final Caring Beyond recipient of the year also “transports” patients.
“Bryan Highbloom has been the JGH Music Therapist for several decades now, but his enthusiasm and engagement is as fresh as any newcomer’s,” wrote Communications Editor Laure-Elise Singer in her nomination letter. The travelling minstrel was invited to perform at the annual JGH Staff Appreciation Holiday Party under a pretext to present him with his award.
“Bryan is the ultimate ‘silent’ multi-disciplinary team member—he unofficially belongs on just about every team in the hospital! Ultimately, though, every step Bryan takes, note he sings or chord he strums on his ubiquitous guitar, is for the patient,” wrote Ms. Singer. “He brings his sensitive, sunny disposition to the units, taking requests and playing across the musical genres (be it rock, Yiddish folk tunes or jazz) with ease, skill and warmth—whatever will transport the patient to a happier place and time in their lives, far from their health troubles”
Karine Lepage, the head nurse on the Hematology-Oncology Unit, has for several years witnessed Mr. Highbloom’s compassionate nature. “You don’t simply play music for patients, you comfort, soothe and listen to them,” she said, as she took the mike at the holiday reception. “You offer them moments of happiness during which their illness, their suffering, their cancer, nausea and fatigue melt away. There are things that medication can not heal, times when relief can only come from compassion and empathy. That’s likely the reason our patients and their families wait for your visits with such impatience!”
“What’s more, in these times of transition, you are always here to cheer up our multidisciplinary team. You have no idea all the good you bring to me, to all of us,” she told him. “You are humble and inspiring, never counting the minutes you spend with us, never refusing to help or support those in need.”
Barbara Lang, the Director of Volunteer Services, was on hand to thank Mr. Highbloom for “caring and sharing with staff and patients alike”. The team from Child Psychiatry paid a visit from their facility to present Mr. Highbloom with a card hand-drawn by the children who belong to the program, eliciting “ohhhs” of delight from hospital staff gathered in the Atrium. ”As your friends for 25 years, you’ve helped so many children and families,” said Nurse Mia Grillakis. “You show your caring for all, your love for all.” Mr. Highbloom replied, as he admired the card, “You all know this means more to me than anything.”
Mr. Highbloom serves as a reminder to all hospital staff, wrote Mr. Singer, that they don’t need medical training to help heal patients.
Help promote Caring Beyond by distributing bookmarks that describe the program and explain how to nominate a staff member who cares beyond. To request bookmarks, contact Belinda Amodio at email@example.com.
To recognize a JGH staff member who cares beyond, fill out a form online or in C-107 or A-112.