North York General Hospital has delivered exceptional care to generations of families in our community. We’re proud of our past and focused on our future. A new generation of committed and caring individuals are shaping the future of their community.
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Dr. Meeta Patel
April 23rd, 2018 is a date burned into the hearts of North York residents. The Yonge Street van attack tore through the psyche of our community. North York General initiated a code orange – an all-hands-on-deck response to a mass casualty event. Dr. Meeta Patel, emergency physician and clinical educator in the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency, was working that day.
Q: What prepared you for that day?
A: A code orange is a rare occurrence. But the emergency physicians, nurses and staff at North York General have the education, training and procedures in place to rise to the occasion. In terms of education, I completed a residency fellowship in emergency medicine at UofT, with a placement at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Everything I had learned kicked into gear that day. We had a quick huddle to assess the situation, then divided into teams – each lead by a physician and a team of nurses. We didn’t know the extent of the casualties, so we had to make sure enough staff were available, including anaesthesiologists, nurses, team attendants ready to retrieve blood, and many others playing important supportive roles.
Q: What was going through your mind at that moment?
A: North York is my community. It gave me pause to think that this could happen just minutes from my home. I feared for my family, friends and community, but I stayed focused on caring for my patients and anticipating and preparing for the needs of trauma patients.
Q: What was the result of the Code Orange?
A: We received five patients that were involved in the attack. All five were eventually successfully discharged from our hospital. Unfortunately, many victims didn’t make it to hospital and were pronounced on the scene. My heart goes out to their family and friends, and our community.
Q: How did the event affect you?
A: Witnessing the aftermath, I saw the emotional injury to our community. But I also saw how we banded together at community events, like the march down Yonge Street and the gathering at Mel Lastman Square with the Prime Minister, Premier and Mayor. It was also a career-defining experience. This unfortunate and devastating tragedy strengthened the bonds within our team and hospital, and heightened our commitment to the community.
Q: Why North York General?
A: I completed my Family Medicine residency at North York General Hospital, where I spent two years in this hospital caring for patients and learning from wonderful teachers. After having completed my fellowship in emergency medicine, I chose to work at the hospital that has cared for my family for years and played a pivotal role in my education. As a clinical educator, I’m able to continue in the tradition of teaching and educating future physicians. North York General is home to a wonderful culture that puts patients first and highly values the education of future health care professionals.
In his leadership role at Burgundy Asset Management, Andrew is an influential voice in the field of small-cap equity investing. He also believes in shaping the future of his community and serves on North York General Foundation’s Board of Governors, and as Vice Chair of the Investment Committee.
Q: Why North York General?
A: My connection to the hospital spans generations. My dad is a thoracic surgeon at North York General. My brother was born there, and growing up in the area, my family always considered it our community hospital – there for us when we needed care. We owe a lot to the hospital. It’s a fixture in the community and I’m glad I can give back.
Q: What drives you to give back?
A: I’ve always been inspired by my dad’s compassion and the positive impact he has on patients and their families. Like him, I wanted to make a difference. I thought about how I could use my knowledge of investing to benefit the hospital and its patients, and I learned about the Foundation’s Investment Committee. Working with a talented team, we’ve been able to preserve and grow capital investments that transform care through new equipment and upgraded facilities.
Q: How are you inspiring others to get involved?
A: Apart from my role on the Investment Committee, I hope to inspire other young professionals to donate and volunteer at North York General. Many not-for-profit organizations, including hospitals, host events to encourage people in the investment field to get involved. These events are often very entertaining, including bowling nights or gala dinners. I wanted to do something a little different. In my field, there’s an untapped desire for professional development. So many young investment professionals are looking to learn, network and advance their careers. I’ve established a series of industry talks called Buy Side for North York General where people learn about buy side investing and the many opportunities to give back to the community at North York General.
Q: What do you want people to know about the hospital?
A: Most people know a lot about Toronto’s downtown hospitals. They’re wonderful institutions led by committed and caring individuals. But I also want my generation to learn about the amazing things happening at North York General. It’s my hope that others will be as inspired as I am and give back in a meaningful way.
Former educator, socially conscious entrepreneur and mother of four, Voula Kiousis radiates positivity and hope for her community. As the founder of 4 Amazing Kids Apparel, a clothing line that champions youth empowerment, she gives back by donating sales proceeds to support child and youth mental health care at North York General.
Q: Why North York General?
A: My connection to the hospital runs deep. Every one of my children entered the world at North York General. These were the most joyous moments of my life. Each labour was different. The first was an emergency C-section and the last was a natural birth. In each case, my family and I received the very best care from the doctors and nurses – I’ll always be grateful.
Q: Why focus on youth mental health?
A: Thinking back to my childhood and most of my adult life, I suffered in silence with generalized anxiety disorder. I didn’t know that what I was experiencing had a name, let alone a treatment. If I had help when I was younger, things would have been different when I got older. But things got worse. Anxiety started to affect every aspect of my life. After the birth of my third child, the generalized anxiety began to intensify, taking hold of my life.
Q: What encouraged you to talk to someone?
A: The stigma connected with mental health care was a huge barrier to treatment in my youth. I was encouraged by the change in how society views mental health and I decided to talk to my doctor to begin my healing journey. My diagnosis explained so much. Learning that what I was struggling with for so long has a name and that there are things I can do to help was empowering.
Q: What’s unique about your clothing line?
A: 4 Amazing Kids Apparel champions positivity, confidence and community. We believe that one small gesture can change someone’s life, inspire others to do good and make a lifelong lasting impression. We give back by donating a percentage of sales to Phillips House, the hospital’s new mental health facility for youth. I was inspired by its unique model of care. It’s not an institutional setting. The home-like atmosphere makes it easier for youth to seek the treatment they need. I only wish a place like Phillips House was around when I was younger. That’s why it’s so important to learn from our past to shape a better future for our children and our community. It’s my sincere hope that my children and their entire generation can access the very best care, free of fear or stigma, when they’re at their most vulnerable.
Q: What do you want to tell children anxiety?
A: I would tell them that there’s help, there’s hope and there’s a way forward. Anxiety doesn’t have to control you. You can take control and learn to live your best life.
In his role at CIBC, Aayaz Pira is pushing the boundaries in financial services and helping to build the bank of the future through digital innovation and technology. Serving on North York General Hospital’s Board of Governors, he combines his professional expertise and passion for health care to better serve the North York community.
Q: Why are you passionate about health care?
A: In years past, I wanted to pursue a career in health care. My interest took me overseas, where I gave support to a mobile eye clinic in rural Pakistan, providing care to communities in need. Later in life, I shifted my career trajectory into technology and banking. I believe that technology can play a transformative role in the things that are most important to Canadians – their finances and their health.
Q: Where do you see the future of health care?
A: Digital innovation is the key that will unlock the hospital of the future. Artificial intelligence can provide doctors with real-time data, virtual reality can help train surgeons for high-risk procedures, and mobile apps and wearables can help patients with post-operative care. The health care sector has always led the way for technology advancements and I’m excited about what’s on the horizon to help improve care for patients at North York General and beyond.
Q: Why North York General?
A: My connection to North York General spans times of joy and uncertainty. My brother and I were born there, and both my children were too. In fact, when my wife was in labour with our second child, we were in one of the birthing rooms when I received an email from the hospital inviting me to interview for the Board of Governors position. North York General is where I stayed as a child when I was sick. It’s also where my parents received care. The hospital has always played a central role in my life and I’m deeply grateful for the care that my family has received.
Q: What drives you to give back?
A: I believe in paying it forward and serving on the hospital Board of Governors is one way of doing that. Giving back to the community is part of my family’s fabric and values. I can honestly say, I take away more than I give. The learning opportunities, friendships and the satisfaction that comes from making a difference are more valuable than anything.
Karen Fleming, RN
Working as a nurse for over 17 years, Karen Fleming insists on staying connected with patients, taking a hands-on role in their care. For Karen, nursing is a family affair. Her mother, grandmother and aunt were all nurses.
Q: What influence did your family have on your career path?
A: Growing up, I was inspired by my mom’s passion for supporting people in need. No matter who the patient was or what they may be going through, she wanted to be a positive part of their journey. That really stuck with me and it’s something that I get to live each day at North York General. My patients mean everything to me. Like my mom, I want to be part of their journey and I want it to be the best journey it can be.
Q: What is your area of specialty?
A: I’ve always loved working with children. Well before nursing I worked as a figure skating instructor, and then a Sunday School teacher. The most rewarding aspect of each role was being able to care for and support children. And there’s such a great energy working with kids. Being silly is part of the job, which I love! So, early in my nursing career I decided to focus on paediatric nursing. Knowing that I can support the next generation of people in our community is incredibly rewarding.
Q: Was there a defining moment in your career?
A: Working with the New Immigrant Support Network was a turning point in my career. It’s crucial that we help new Canadians, including refugees, navigate the health care system – especially when it comes to children. My time there highlighted the need for more equitable access to care. Language barriers or a lack of institutional knowledge can limit an individual’s ability to receive the care they need. A patient’s race, cultural background and other factors can also impact how a care provider perceives their particular situation. As a paediatric nurse in one of the most culturally diverse communities in Canada, it’s my hope that all families will have equitable access to the highest quality care. I’m proud to work for a hospital that shares my values and is working to be as inclusive and culturally sensitive as possible.
Q: Why North York General?
A: Our hospital is known as one of the best teaching hospitals in the GTA. We value training and education, which is one of the many reasons I decided to put down roots here. My passion for teaching, supported by the hospital, allowed me to enter the role of Clinical Nurse Educator for our Paediatrics Department. One of the areas where I specialize is simulation-based education. Working with teams throughout the hospital, I lead high-fidelity simulations to improve confidence within health care teams, preparing them for real life situations and leading to better patient outcomes. I’m profoundly grateful to the donors that fund educational equipment and I love to meet with them to show them the impact of their support. I’m also humbled by the support of donors who invest in professional development. Because of their leadership, I’m able pursue a Master of Science in Medical Simulation and Healthcare through a generously awarded scholarship.
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