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Patient Advisors: Empowering Patients in Hospital Decision Making

In the Monday Globe and Mail, a front-page article appeared about Kingston General Hospital.1 The article gave an account of a terrific initiative at the hospital to comprehensively involve patients in hospital decision making processes. The story focuses on a Kingston innkeeper, Patrick Dickey, who is one of the 55 patient advisers at KGH. Specifically, the article relays how Dickey was involved in the hiring of hospital staff, as part of an interview panel in selecting a hospital phlebotomist.

KGH has distinguished itself amongst Ontario hospitals as a leader in patient empowerment. In fact, KGH was the recent recipient of the prestigious NRC Picker Innovative Best Practice Award 2012 for Canada. NRC Picker is a world expert in patient-centred care.2 In the citation, KGH was praised for the following. “Today, KGH has nearly 50 Patient Experience Advisors who work side by side with staff at all levels of the organization to ensure the patient voice is heard at every turn. Comprised of former KGH patients and their family members, Patient Experience Advisors are an integral part of KGH’s patient and family centred care initiatives.”2

Recently, Marla Rosen, one of KGH’s patient experience advisors, won the Human Touch Award from Cancer Care Ontario for her work as a volunteer, and advocate for cancer patients and their families in our region. “The Human Touch Award is one of Cancer Care Ontario’s highest honours,” says Brenda Carter, regional vice-president of cancer services. “It shines a spotlight on a select few cancer care providers and volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to compassionate care for cancer patients.”3

Leslee Thompson, CEO of KGH, has made the Patient Advisor program an absolute priority. And her hard work, and the dedication of the executive team to this program are paying dividends. To be sure, the excellent publicity is great. But more importantly, involving patients in the day to day decision making processes of the hospital will bring a unique perspective to the “way we do business” and is an initiative that will make a difference.

If you have any thoughts on the issue of patient empowerment, respond to this blog, or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.


  1. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/patient-advisers-a-prescription-for-health-care-power-shift/article16920145/
  2. http://www.kgh.on.ca/en/newsroom/pages/kgh-wins-prestigious-canadian-award.aspx
  3. http://www.kgh.on.ca/en/newsroom/pages/patient-experience-advisor-wins-big-award-from-cancer-care-ontario.aspx

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