The latest Exceptional Healer: Patient and Family-Centred Award for the Kingston Health Sciences Centre were presented recently.  The EH award competition, which is in its third year, now includes a separate award for nurses.  The two selection were unequivocal in choosing Dr. Maria Velez, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and nurse Tracey Froess in the Cancer Centre as exemplars in patient and family-centred care, Susan Bedell shares.

Of Valez, one patient wrote: “She made me feel human in a medical world.” Another added: “I’m so pleased that Dr. Velez works for a teaching hospital as new (and experienced) doctors have much to learn from her in terms of benevolent, flexible, and accessible patient-centred care.”

One patient wrote that Froess’ “passion and dedication to her patients shines brightly!” while another noted she “routinely empowers families to take ownership of their situation identifying what will work best for them and delivering it.”

Over the last three years, the following individuals have been awarded the Exceptional Healer Award:

2017   Dr. Richard Henry – Anesthesiology & Chronic Pain Clinic

            Dr. Tom Gonder – Ophthalmology & Retina Specialist

2018   Dr. Shawna Johnston – Obstetrics & Gynaecology

2019   Dr. Maria Velez, Obstetrics & Gynaecology

            Nurse Tracey Froess – Cancer Centre

Patients, family members, staff, and students learning at KHSC are encouraged to submit nominations each year.

 Here is more about Dr. Maria Valez and Nurse Tracey Froess, from the original blog post from the KHSC site:

Masters in the art of listening

By Christine Maloney

Putting patients and families at the centre of their care has earned nurse Tracey Froess and Dr. Maria del Pilar Vélez Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Exceptional Healer Awards.

Froess and Dr. Vélez were among 22 nurses and physicians nominated by patients, families and staff for the annual award. Originally created by the Patient & Family Advisory Council, it honours those who demonstrate the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care, dignity and respect, participation and collaboration.

For Dr. Vélez, an obstetrician and gynecologist focused on improving women’s reproductive health, her success goes beyond having knowledge, skills and dedication.

“I believe in showing compassion, and especially, to listening to patients and acknowledging the importance of their needs,” she says.

The patient who nominated Dr. Vélez felt supported and empowered throughout her care, writing in her nomination “She wanted to hear what I had to say first.” and “She went at my pace and in the directions and options I wanted to explore. I felt she understood what my values were and did everything she could to accommodate them.”

The winner in the nurse category this year, Tracey Froess works in one of KHSC’s cancer clinic. Her patient’s expressed their appreciation by saying “Tracey always took the time to listen to our concerns and we never felt rushed. We always felt respected and valued. She made the whole experience more comforting.”

“I learned from another esteemed colleague to really listen to your patients,” Froess wrote when asked about her secret to patient-care success. “This advice has always done me well in my career.”

Upon reflecting on what it means to receive an Exceptional Healer Award, both Froess and Dr. Vélez were quick to acknowledge those around them.

“It makes me realize that I have been lucky to work in the right place, with a great team, which has had a positive impact on my care of patients,” said Dr. Vélez.

Froess added, “KHSC is full of exceptional healers. I know… I’ve been fortunate to work along side them every day.”