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Ontarians put the ‘human touch’ in cancer and kidney care
The Human Touch Awards celebrate 10 years of honouring exceptional patient care
Posted on 2016/04/22

April 22, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – Yesterday, eight inspiring healthcare professionals and volunteers were honoured by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network at the 10th annual Human Touch Awards for going the extra mile to touch the lives of patients living with cancer and kidney disease.

This year’s recipients are compassionate, tireless and resourceful in seeing to the needs of patients and their families. From helping patients with immigration issues receive the care they need, to creating a hair-loss photobook to ease the fear and anxiety of people at the beginning of their cancer treatments, these healthcare professionals and volunteers are role models for providing extraordinary care.

This year’s Human Touch Awards recipients are:

  • Michael Bennett, a social worker in Windsor whose efforts to fulfil his patients’ final wishes (including swimming with dolphins and reuniting with estranged family members) are a testament to the compassion and dedication he brings to work each day.
  • Kelly Brockington, a registered nurse in Scarborough whose leadership in providing mental health services has helped hundreds of patients find relief from the fear, anxiety and depression that often accompany a diagnosis of cancer.
  • Gary Buchanan, the backbone of a volunteer program in Peterborough whose passion and enthusiasm inspires others, particularly local youth, to find ways to improve the lives of people with chronic kidney disease.
  • Anthony Conti, a registered nurse in Sudbury who pulls out all the stops to get people in remote areas of the province the care they need, when and where they need it.
  • Holly Freill, a dietitian from Thunder Bay who gets to know her patients on a personal level in order to create unique meal plans that address complex issues such as access to safe and nutritious food, and even organizes “kidney-friendly” holiday food hampers for patients.
  • Michelle Hladunewich, a nephrologist in Toronto and tireless advocate, confidant, and friend who offers more than expertise to her patients, many of whom are women with kidney disease hoping to become pregnant.
  • Paula Pigeon, a volunteer in Sault Ste. Marie who uses her own experience as a breast cancer survivor to create resources such as a hair-loss journal, patient video and survivor calendar to ease the stress and anxiety of people with cancer.
  • Glenda Towne, a diet technician in Toronto who recognizes the significant impact food has on physical and emotional well-being and strives to improve patients’ lives one meal at a time.

Over 70 awards have been given out since the inception of the Human Touch Awards in 2007. The Human Touch Awards were created to highlight the importance of providing emotional support to people with cancer and kidney disease, in addition to the medical treatment they already receive. The Awards also showcase the incredible work taking place across the province each day by committed, dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals and volunteers.

CCO acknowledges the generous support of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario branch and the RBC Foundation, sponsors of the 10th annual Human Touch Awards. The partnerships between CCO, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and other organizations, health professionals, front-line care providers and volunteers make up Ontario’s cancer and kidney care programs that are essential to providing and maintaining high-quality healthcare in the province.

For more information on the Human Touch Awards, including high-resolution images and a complete listing of 2016 award recipients, visit or


“Each year we are inspired by those who lead by example with their compassion and dedication in caring for those in Ontario’s cancer and kidney disease programs. This year’s recipients demonstrate the importance of the human touch in all our work to improve the patient and family experience.”

— Michael Sherar, President and CEO of CCO

“Ensuring patients get the care they need, whether through treatment or compassionate support, is essential to putting patients first. This year’s Human Touch Awards recipients display an inspiring commitment to providing high-quality care to improve the health of Ontarians.”

—Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“It is a great honour to once again sponsor the Human Touch Awards. At the Canadian Cancer Society, we know a cancer diagnosis can be devastating for patients and their families, so it is important to recognize the individuals who go the extra mile to provide comfort and help ease the suffering of those in need.”

—Rowena Pinto, Vice President, Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division

“Kidney disease is life-changing and undergoing dialysis treatments takes its toll on a patient, both physically and emotionally. It is important that we recognize the passionate professionals and volunteers who add the human touch to kidney care in Ontario.”

—Jim O’Brien, Executive Director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario Branch

“Healthcare professionals and volunteers are the lifeblood of Ontario’s cancer and kidney care programs. We are honoured to play a part in recognizing them for the incredible care they provide to their patients. Congratulations to this year’s recipients!”

—Donna O'Reilly, Regional Vice President, Commercial Financial Services, RBC

About CCO:

An agency of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, CCO is the Ontario government’s principal advisor on cancer and chronic kidney disease care, as well as access to care for key health services. It is guided by a mission that together we will improve the performance of our health systems in Ontario by driving quality, accountability, innovation and value. CCO uses its infrastructure, assets and models to improve the province’s health systems for cancer and chronic kidney disease. It also directs and oversees healthcare funds for hospitals and other cancer and chronic kidney disease care providers, enabling them to deliver high-quality, timely services and improved access to care.

For more information, please contact:

Phone: 1.855.460.2646

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Last modified: Fri, Apr 22, 2016
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