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Human Touch Awards

CCO’s Human Touch Awards recognize and celebrate the compassion and dedication of healthcare professionals, providers and volunteers in Ontario’s cancer and kidney care communities.

Meet the 2017 Human Touch Awards Winners!

This year, 10 outstanding Human Touch Award winners were chosen from across Ontario, from both the cancer and kidney care systems. To read about award winners from the kidney care system, go to the Ontario Renal Network website.

Our cancer care system winners are:

Staff Awards (Cancer):

Julie Chaves

Julie Chaves, Front Registration Clerk, Grand River Hospital
When new cancer patients arrive at Grand River Regional Cancer Centre in Kitchener to register for their first cancer treatment, Julie Chaves is often the first face they see. In an environment that can be overwhelming, emotionally exhausting and stressful, Julie is the beam of light that puts patients at ease as they prepare to undergo treatment for the first time. As the Front Registration Clerk for the past 15 years, she has become a friend to the people she encounters, brightening their days with a colourful personality that matches her equally colourful desk. She makes every effort to get to know the patients at the centre, remembering each person by their name, their individual needs, and welcoming them each time with kindness, warmth and good humour. Julie truly embodies what it means to provide person-centred care, treating each person as an individual rather than just part of a process. Julie has proven to be not only a professional, dependable and trusted employee, but also an inspiration to patients and healthcare providers alike.

Margaret Genna

Margaret Genna, Team Leader, Chemotherapy Suite, Windsor Regional Hospital
Margaret Genna, or Maggie as she’s called by her colleagues and patients, has been likened to the captain of a ship on more than one occasion. As the Team Leader of the Chemotherapy Suite at Windsor Regional Hospital, Maggie is no stranger to efficiency and attention to detail, often using checklists and worksheets to keep everything running smoothly. She is the go-to person in the suite when it comes to best practices and new education, and despite having worked in cancer care for more than 35 years, she continues to have a passion for finding new and innovative practices. Maggie is deeply committed to educating new nurses in the unit, and has recently revamped the nursing orientation package to ensure new nurses have a solid understanding of both practice and theory. Maggie is a passionate advocate for patient safety, regularly holding safety meetings. At these meetings, she often reviews incidents that have occurred in the unit so the entire team can take away key learnings. Maggie’s commitment to patient care is best defined by a question she often asks herself and her team – “what is the best outcome for our patient?”

Dr. Michael Lock

Dr. Michael Lock, Radiation Oncologist, London Health Sciences Centre
When it comes to patient care, Dr. Michael Lock has a reputation for going above and beyond. He is dedicated to ensuring each individual patient receives the best possible care and support – even if that means he is the last person in the clinic each night. Dr. Lock is not only a leader in person-centred care, but a firm advocate of improving treatment by continuing to seek new evidence and innovations. He has championed various programs and initiatives to improve the patient’s care, quality of life, and overall experience, and was even one of the first doctors in Canada to treat a liver patient with a new technique called personalized radiobiological guidance. Dr. Lock is also an active proponent of education in radiation oncology. He has personally obtained funding for a fellowship program as well as additional residency positions at the centre, and has supported the development of new curriculum and lectures. He has a true passion for giving back, which is evident in his life outside of the clinic where he is active in various committees and charitable activities. Aside from delivering exceptional care, Dr. Lock is a source of positivity in the lives of his patients and colleagues, bringing kindness, warmth and sincerity to the centre each and every day.

Volunteer Award (Cancer):

Elise Gasbarrino

Elise Gasbarrino, Founder of Pink Pearl Foundation
As a young woman undergoing cancer treatment in her early 20s, Elise Gasbarrino found that there was something missing from her experience – a way to connect with women her age who were facing similar issues, and to support each other to conquer their issues together. Her recognition of this gap eventually led her to create Pink Pearl Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in the Niagara region that provides support, facilitates connections and empowers women between the ages of 18 and 40 who are working through the social and emotional challenges that come with diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The organization, which was founded 11 years ago, is run entirely by a dedicated group of volunteers who host annual retreats, mixers and family days as well as offering in-hospital support packages and scholarships. Elise spends her days as an Account Executive at Burberry, overseeing the wholesale footwear business for the Americas. She runs Pink Pearl Foundation on an entirely voluntary basis, dedicating her extra time to turning a life-changing diagnosis into a foundation of support for hundreds of women. Elise has a knack for making every woman she meets through her programs feel comfortable, special and empowered.

Debora Prokopich Buzzi

Debora Prokopich Buzzi, Volunteer, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
As a breast cancer survivor, Debora Prokopich Buzzi knows firsthand the importance of quality of life and a positive patient experience. Through her dedication and passion, Debora has had a meaningful impact on the lives of cancer patients and healthcare professionals in the Northwest region. She has volunteered with the regional cancer centre for over eight years, contributing as a Patient and Family Advisor in various capacities including participation in over 15 working groups, committees and events and never shying away from making her voice heard on behalf of other cancer patients and survivors. Debora is always looking into new and innovative ways to give back to the cancer community to improve the patient experience and has spent a great amount of her personal time volunteering in the cancer community. Debora approaches every volunteer position with a drive and passion to improve Ontario’s cancer system. Through her vision for a better system, she challenges everyone she collaborates with to work better and to put patients first.

Last modified: Fri, Apr 21, 2017
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