IWD 2023: Women Powering Women’s Health at NYGH
Each and every day across North York General Hospital (NYGH), inspiring women are hard at work making a difference for our patients and their families. This International Women’s Day (IWD), we are celebrating the impact of female leaders by shining a spotlight on some of the passionate champions who are making a difference in our Maternal and Newborn program.
From OBGYNs, to midwives, to nurses, to grateful patients turned philanthropists, each of these women bring their own personal flair to powering women’s health at NYGH. And while the work they do today makes a world of difference for our patients, it’s their relentless pursuit of better care for every family from every community that truly makes us optimistic for the future.
Dr. Eva Knifed
Family Physician OB
Dr. Knifed’s connection to NYGH runs deep and the hospital has had a major impact on her life. She enjoys many aspects of her job, but being able to connect with multiple generations of people in her practice and the relationships that are built over time are her favourite parts.
“NYGH holds a very special place in my family’s hearts. It was the first hospital that welcomed my family when we immigrated to Canada in 1994. My mother went into labour with my younger sister two weeks to the day we landed. Being newcomers, who had no experience with the health care system, the staff at NYGH were kind and welcoming. My mother actually ended up naming my sister after her Labour and Delivery nurse, Susan. Working here now is like coming home again.”
Mary Ann Leslie
Mary Ann was one of the first Registered Midwives at NYGH and has worked here since 1994. Now, about 13% of babies born at NYGH are delivered by midwives. Mary Ann’s passion is providing care that puts the birthing parents at the center of their experience.
“NYGH has been a trailblazer in integrating Midwifery into our health systems. We are an amazing community hospital with a great team approach to care for our clients. Over the years I have come to realize that things that seem small to us as health care providers can mean a great deal to families. I love it when I can make that difference and forge meaningful relationships with families, colleagues, and teaching students. To the next generation coming along I would say, always follow your passion, but understand the work and the responsibility that comes with it. And always try to be your best self.”
Dr. Karthika Devarajan
As a health care professional who gives back to her community both locally and internationally, Dr. Karthika’s impact is felt far and wide. This includes her work with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in addition to her regular clinical practice.
“I still remember the absolute magical feeling when I delivered a baby for the first time – that has never gotten old for me. As an OBGYN I consider it a privileged position from which to advocate for women’s health issues, and helping people achieve a safe and healthy birth is immensely satisfying. I love meeting new people and being trusted to be involved in some of the most intimate moments in people’s lives. NYGH allows me the balance to provide great patient care but also to nurture a life and interests outside of work which in turn helps me be a better doctor. I truly think of my colleagues as my beloved work family.”
Registered Nurse, Postpartum Unit
Caroline started working in the Postpartum Unit at NYGH as a new nursing graduate. Over the years she has worked with many incredible health care professionals who share the same goal of delivering safe and outstanding care to people in our community.
“I chose to go into a nursing career because it gives me the opportunity to help and support people in their most vulnerable moments. I love being able to establish trust and develop a therapeutic relationship with my patients and their family members. It’s very rewarding to go home after work knowing that I made a positive impact on someone’s life. The best part about NYGH for me is having the great pleasure of working alongside many amazing health care professionals who inspire me to reflect on my nursing practice and motivate me to continuously learn ways to improve the quality of care I can provide.”
Clinical Director, Maternal Newborn and Paediatric Care
Sheri’s career in health care has been inspired by her own personal health experience as a child. She still remembers the kindness and compassion of the nurses and physicians, and they continue to inspire her today.
“I have the opportunity to help design and shape the health care continuum for patients and families. Whether we are seeing patients and families early on in a pregnancy, after a birth, or with their children, I am proud of the comprehensive scope of services that we provide. I am also proud to work alongside our NYGH team, who continuously challenge the status quo by innovating, collaborating, and partnering to find new ways to make care more accessible and equitable. Throughout the pandemic, our team has emerged as a true leader in the provision of safe and innovative Maternal, Newborn and Paediatric Care. One silver lining in the pandemic has been the regional and provincial recognition, and now ongoing funding that our team received for our Paediatric Eating Disorder Program.”
Co-Chair, Women in Philanthropy and Board Governor
Being involved with community work was a significant part of Leslie’s upbringing, but more than anything, she is inspired by her five children to lead by example through her volunteerism.
“I’m proud to be on the Board of Governors of North York General Foundation and Chair of the new Women in Philanthropy giving circle, which is a group of women advocating and raising money to support women’s health at NYGH, including the new Birthing Centre coming soon to NYGH. Getting involved and giving back is important to me because NYGH has had a major impact on my family, across generations. My late father-in-law was both an inpatient and outpatient at the hospital. Four out of my five children have also been patients and most recently my best friend was an inpatient of the Adult Mental Health Unit. I am eternally grateful for the kindness, attentiveness and dedication shown by all of our care teams.”
The Impact of Outstanding Care
Grateful Patient and Co-owner & Creative Director, Pixie Mood
For Chloe, it’s the people who set NYGH apart. As a grateful patient and entrepreneur, she is inspired to give back so other moms can have the same warm experience she had.
“In the spring of 2021 I gave birth to my son and my difficult pregnancy journey was made easier and a lot more pleasant thanks to the genuine care and compassionate attitude of my care team. I still drive from Aurora to NYGH when I need care. It was very meaningful for me to launch my business as a kiosk at NYGH years ago and now that my business has grown, I love being an ambassador for the hospital’s work. Giving back doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary – sometimes non-monetary donations make a bigger impact! Volunteering, simple acts of kindness, donating clothing, and being a mentor, are all acts of generosity. Just remember to do it in a way that works for you – you’ll stick to it that way.”
Powering Women’s Health in the Future
As we look to the future of maternal and newborn health, the spirit of philanthropy that has powered NYGH for over 50 years will be more important than ever. Our donors and volunteers will play a major part in our plans to upgrade the facilities in our maternal and newborn area to match our outstanding quality of care. We are embarking on an ambitious project to transform our aging Labour & Delivery and Post-Partum Units into a modern, integrated Birthing Centre. It will be Toronto’s first and only built for every family and every community, with private rooms and a modern approach to the birthing experience.
Do you want to get involved and make an impact on women’s health at NYGH? We are rallying our family of supporters with the launch of Women in Philanthropy, a giving circle that mobilizes women in our community to make a collective impact at NYGH, starting with the new Birthing Centre.
Learn more about Women in Philanthropy or contact Kylie Mondorf at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started today!