Patients work with Island Health in a variety of ways, but in the North Island a group of individuals have become embedded in the work of designing and building the new North Island Hospitals in Campbell River and the Comox Valley by participating in a Public Patient Advisory Council (PPAC). The group’s 14 members come from diverse backgrounds and communities, but they share a common interest in making a meaningful contribution to their communities by helping to design hospitals that consider the needs of all patients and families. Their recommendations to date have influenced hospital design in many areas, and have been especially valuable during the development of facility signage.
“We appreciate the work of the volunteers, who are dedicated to improving their hospital and community,” said Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley. “With their help, we’re seeing that the best way to impact change is to become engaged on the ground level.”
“PPAC members’ participation in the design and development process has proven invaluable,” says Tom Sparrow, Chief Project Officer. “We need to fully understand the needs of our stakeholders across North Vancouver Island so we can build facilities that will benefit everyone.”
PPAC members say the volunteer role has been personally rewarding. “It brings me closer to my community,” says the Comox Valley’s Clemmie Fraser. “I like to see a new hospital being built and having good infrastructure around where I’m living.”
Fraser appreciates the opportunity for volunteers and healthcare leaders to learn from each other. “’I’ve found it a positive experience and I’ve met highly qualified people on the committee, so I appreciate that. I’m learning from them, and they might pick up a few pointers from the other members,” she says.
Patients and caregivers may not necessarily be healthcare professionals, but they are often the experts on their own health and care needs, or those of their loved ones, explains Deborah Harver, Specialist for Patient Partners in the Patient Experience department of Island Health.
“Patient advisors are volunteers who partner with healthcare teams and bring unique perspectives and experiences to inform decision-making and planning efforts,” says Harver. “When a partnership is created between patient advisors and healthcare team members, the result is safer, higher quality care resulting in an improved patient and staff experience.”
At a time of year when the spirit of giving is at the forefront, Island Health is grateful for the support of patient volunteers. “Patients bring incredibly diverse perspectives to the planning process,” says Dermot Kelly, Island Health Executive Director for Portfolio 1 (Comox Valley-Strathcona-North Island). “They’re helping us keep the focus on patient-centred care, and we’re so appreciative of their contributions.”
Director, Communications and Engagement