President's Excellence Awards

Celebrating Outstanding Achievements

Recipients Named for President’s Excellence Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s President’s Excellence Awards.

Selected from 89 nominations, these recipients exemplify the highest standards in innovation, collaboration and patient-centred care.

Outstanding Achievement in Patient- and Family-Centred Care

Outstanding Achievement in People Excellence

Outstanding Achievement in Innovation and Research Excellence

Outstanding Achievement in Quality Improvement

Distinguished Service

Congratulations to all award recipients and nominees. If you have any comments or questions contact Information on how to nominate a team or individual for the 2018 awards will be provided on this page later this year.

The President’s Excellence Awards celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of AHS staff, physicians and teams.

Award Recipient Videos

You’ve read their stories, now see their videos. Our Profiles of Excellence series showcases our President’s Excellence Award recipients in the places they work. Congratulations again to all recipients and nominees.

If you have trouble viewing this video series please trying using Chrome or Firefox.

Patient & Family Centred Care

This award recognizes a clinical or non-clinical individual or team who has demonstrated excellence in providing, supporting or advancing a culture of patient- and family-centred care in a unit, site, program, or throughout AHS. The focus of the award is on an individual or team who has implemented an effective way for including patients and families as partners in their care and includes an emphasis on the humanity of health care – how we relate to the person inside the patient and to each other.

Award Recipient


CoACT is a large-scale provincial program that brings the Patient First Strategy to life through the implementation of Collaborative Care on 161 in-patient care units (Medicine, Surgery, Mental Health, and Community) across Alberta. It creates a culture where we provide timely information to patients and families, regular check-ins, and introductions that help patients and families understand who we are, our role, and how we will be providing care to them.

5977 surveys of patients and families have been collected across Alberta to date, recording their experience on CoACT units. The most recent data (2016/17 third fiscal quarter) is very positive, and includes, but is not limited, to:

  • When asked “Health care providers always treated me with courtesy and respect,” 80 per cent responded “always,” and 15 per cent responded “usually.
  • When asked “I am confident that I have the information necessary to understand my health conditions and care needs,” 65 per cent responded “always,” 23 per cent responded “usually.”
  • When asked “Did you feel involved in decisions about your care,” 56 per cent responded “always,” 25 per cent responded “usually.”

Laura Devereaux , social worker at Sheldon M. Chumir Urgent Care Center

As a social worker at Sheldon M. Chumir Urgent Care Center in Calgary, Laura Devereaux has been a tireless advocate for complex patients for many years. She was heavily involved in the creation of the Complex Integrated Care Plan (CICP) project at the Sheldon Chumir Urgent Care Centre (UCC) in downtown Calgary. This project is a system of collaborative care plans for vulnerable patients who often suffer from a combination of conditions: mental illness, substance use, medical illness and trauma, to name a few.

Through partnership with these patients, the Calgary Urban Project Society Coordinated care team, EMS Community Health Assessment program, as well as physician and nurse providers in the UCC, design the care plans as guides to holistic patient treatment and management of both psychological and physical conditions.

Laura ensured these treatment plans were housed electronically in the Sunrise Clinical Manager (SCM), which can be accessed by any provider in Calgary who uses SCM. This has previously proven to be very beneficial for patients, as it helps ensure timely communication and coordination between care providers, and their care history is kept as up to date as possible.


Alberta Children’s Hospital Patient & Family Engagement Team

This team puts incredible emphasis on finding new ways to partner with patients and include the patient voice into everything they do at Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH). A key part of their success is the development of a Patient and Family Engagement Framework. Having a formal framework and supporting processes has led to expanded dialogue and collaboration between care providers, patient and family advisors and community partners,

Implementing this framework has resulted in significant growth in patient and family engagement activities across ACH. Highlights include:

  • Successful launch of a new Family Advisory Council
  • 62 per cent increase in ACH PFCC e-newsletter subscriptions
  • 62 per cent increase in patient and family advisor volunteers
  • PFCC Network volunteer hours increased by a factor of three
  • 14 new committees with patient and family advisors
  • 29 requests from AHS/ACH to seek input/feedback from the PFCC Network in 2015/16, and 39 for 2016/17 (so far)

The Framework has become a key tool to communicate the value of patient and family engagement to ACH staff, and what supports they can access to ensure that the patient/family voice is included in their ongoing work.

Calgary Emergency Department Commitment to Comfort Collaborative

The Commitment to Comfort Collaborative aims to promote comfort by helping to lessen pain and anxiety of children receiving care in Calgary emergency departments (ED). By examining patient experience data and partnering with patients and families, the collaborative was able to develop strategies and tools to manage pain far more effectively and compassionately.

The variety of pain management options available are clearly displayed within the ED for everyone to see. They range from needle-free pain medicine, ice packs, a warm blanket, something to play with, or numbing cream if a needle is needed. Families are also encouraged to talk to staff about their pain needs and ask for comfort measures.

Patient experience has improved considerably since the program’s inception. At Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) ED, for example, Child dissatisfaction with pain care decreased from 14 to 5 per cent, and the median time to receiving pain medication decreased from 37 minutes to 12 minutes. When comparing data from 2016 to 2015, children spent approximately 2000 fewer hours waiting for their pain to be treated at the ACH.

Engagement and Patient Experience: Patient & Family Advisor Digital Storytelling

With all of the information we have available in healthcare, it is often the personal narratives and stories we remember the most. Stories can ignite change, inspire action and encourage problem solving. The Engagement and Patient Experience department works with several patient and family advisors to help them share their stories and experience through digital videos.

Usually five minutes in length, these thirteen (to date) videos are a poignant way to include patient voices and share patient experience in the time-sensitive world of health care. The team also created a “digital storytelling facilitation guide” to help teams find ways to use these stories for quality improvement purposes.

To date, these videos have been used during Patient and Family Centred Care Week, quality improvement meetings, program/unit manager orientations, team meetings, and more. The department hopes to produce 16 to 20 new films each year, in partnership with patient and family advisors.

IMPACT Lethbridge

The IMPACT program works to enhance access to primary healthcare for vulnerable populations. One way they accomplish this is through providing Pop-up Health and Community Service events in north Lethbridge. These clinics are targeted toward those whose demographic, geographic, economic, and/or cultural characteristics impede their access to community-based primary healthcare services. Two ‘pop ups’ were held in 2016; the first included 20 service providers, served more than 50 citizens, and provided more than 212 services. The second included 25 service providers, served more than 55 citizens, and provided more than 295 services.

A key element of the pop-up services is to connect individuals to services over the long term and not just to provide one time services. Through connections made at the events, an open door has been provided to support these individuals moving forward.

IMPACT Lethbridge has also ensured they have provided the services at a facility in the community that is easy to get to and well-known to residents. They provide clear information about how access the events via public transit, or by offering to arrange transportation for those who require it.

MAID Implementation Team

In preparation for and following the royal ascent of Bill C-14, the Medical Assistance in Dying Implementation team developed a process and pathway to assist Albertans with the important, sensitive, emotional and often politically-charged topic of end of life care and medical assistance in dying.

Through extensive consultation and the willingness to listen to all points of view, the implementation team developed an AHS program that was respectful of all - the patient, the family, and the various caregivers involved. The outcome has been a centralized service that is able to provide information through the process. Access to service does not require a healthcare provider to be involved if they don't wish to be, while still enabling Albertans to access the service.

In an age of medical technology and advanced medical techniques, the art of caring through respect, listening and recognition of choice within the law demonstrates humanity in medicine and patient and family care. End of life decisions and dying get to the heart and souls of patients, families, and their respective caregivers at a level that medical technology and breakthroughs cannot transcend.

Michael Lang, Specialist, Person Centred Care Integration, Provincial Practices

Michael Lang has been tireless in the past several years in championing the use of stories to create shared understanding between patients and providers to best meet patient needs.

The most recent examples of Michael’s work are the digital video series “Stories to Create Conversations” and the Patient Engagement Reference Group’s “2016 Patient Digital Stories.” Each set of videos feature patients and families sharing their healthcare experience. These videos are intended to be used by healthcare providers to help them truly understand the patient experience, from a patient’s view.

A key impact of Michael’s work is in bringing providers and patients to a place of shared understanding. He encourages patients to focus on a key element of their health journey in short narratives: what they believe is most important for healthcare providers to hear and learn from them.

In addition to being shared through the organization by Engagement and Patient Experience staff, these projects were featured during Patient and Family Centred Care Week, which was advertised widely throughout the organization. Feedback from staff and patients who attended was very positive.

Valrie Stewart, Clinical Facilitator, Patient and Family Centred Care

Patient and family centered care (PFCC) has been a pillar of practice at South Health Campus (SHC) before its doors even opened. To ensure PFCC practices continued at SHC, Valerie conducted a PFCC engagement survey in 2015 for staff and patients that represent the facility.

500 staff and patients participated in the survey, and the data indicated that that although the culture of PFCC was strong at the site, much work needed to be done to re-establish practice or push forward PFCC concepts. Outcomes from the survey include:

  • All SHC leaders sign a pledge to outline the commitment they would be taking to promote and support PFCC values.
  • Creation of “Thank you cards” that patients and families can use to personally thank teams or individuals for the care they received .
  • Reinforcing practice support documents such as Name, Occupation, Duty (NOD)
  • Creation and development of PFCC metrics dashboard in Tableau
  • Creating partnerships and communications with supporting teams such as Patient concerns, Data Analytics and Communications.

Implementation of ideas that stemmed from the report haven’t been limited to SHC – they have spread across the zone and impact all the acute care and rural sites.

People Excellence

This award recognizes an individual and/or team who has demonstrated excellence in providing, supporting or advancing a culture where everyone feels safe, healthy, and valued, and can reach their full potential.

Award Recipient

Alberta Children’s Hospital Critical Incidence Stress Management Team

The Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) Critical Incidence Stress Management (CISM) team protects and supports the physical health and mental well-being of all ACH staff and physicians. To achieve this, CISM developed the following interventions/supports for staff who go through a stressful, traumatic event (e.g. patient death, difficult medical cases, organ donation, etc.):

  • Pre-crisis preparation: preparing emotionally for an anticipated event
  • Defusing: held within hours of an event, providing staff the opportunity to decompress so that can return to their duties
  • Debrief: held within two weeks of an event to mitigate stress symptoms, assess the need for follow up, and provide a sense of post-crisis closure
  • Individual: one-one-one conversations between CISM facilitator and affected staff member

Since the program’s inception, 27 facilitators hosted approximately 35 individual and group CISM activities across the site per year. Vacant positions in the ACH PICU dropped by 75 per cent between May 2014 and November 2016. Staff sick hours decreased by 46 per cent between October 2015 and November 2016

While it is impossible to directly attribute these improvements to the CISM program alone, it is believed some of this progress can be attributed to the well-established CISM program in the unit.

Kathryn Leyerzapf (Manager, Outpatient Department, Cross Cancer Institute)

Kathryn Leyerzapf has worked tirelessly to improve her outpatient clinic department for patients and staff. Many clinics were overbooked and both nurses and doctors felt rushed, and expressed a lack of job satisfaction as they couldn't spend the quality time that our patients wanted and needed. Kathryn, along with the CancerConrol Professional Practice Team, addressed this in many ways, including:

  • Pre-appointment call for patients: gather all relevant information from the patient prior to arriving at the clinic, which frees up healthcare providers to educate and listen to a patient’s concern and journey
  • Adding charge nurse role to outpatient department: one of the main projects that the charge nurses were involved with was the development of guidelines for RN-only clinics. These guidelines were necessary to ensure that the appropriate provider saw the right patient, at the right time.

Patients have found the pre-appointment call for information an effective use of their time and help them feel valued. Staff have found value in this initiative in that they feel they are filling their full scope of practice—being there for the patient and their families.


CAMIS Surgical Simulation

Since its establishment 2004, The Centre for the Advancement of Minimally Invasive Surgery (CAMIS) has promoted and supported surgical education and research in Alberta. It ensures that novice and intermediate surgical nurses can receive 84 hours of hands-on simulation training labs to better prepare them for their career in the operating room.

Training in a CAMIS lab allows a multi-disciplinary team to hone their skills as they operate and troubleshoot in a simulated setting. The advantage of a lab is that it allows learners to practise in an environment that has zero impact on patient safety.

The training encourages participants to demonstrate the full capacity of their skills for their colleagues and instructors. The feedback and debriefing following a training session are facilitated in respectful and honest way that allows for everyone to learn from both successes and mistakes. Compassion plays a significant role in this program as the labs were developed to help reduce the stress faced by novice learners in actual operating room settings.

Feedback from those who complete the training is continually positive.

Executive Education Program

Created in 2012, the Executive Education Program was designed in recognition that the quality of Alberta Health Services’ leaders is critical to improving the performance of the health system. It pushes participants to reflect on their ability to inspire and engage others, and to challenge others’ thinking about what is required to reach our goals of sustainability, quality, and access for all Albertans.

The program trains 40 leaders from across the organization each year. They apply their learning through Action Learning Projects, which enables participants to collaborate with senior and executive to solve some of the real-life challenges AHS faces. Equally important, the program helps create a network of leaders with a broad understanding of the challenges and complexities of our health system, equips them with leading edge knowledge and a common vocabulary to discuss, influence, and support innovation in the health system.

An April 2015 survey of program participants showed that 97.2 per cent of respondents would recommend the Executive Education program to a colleague, and that they had received the learning promised by the program. 97.2 per cent of respondents also indicated they are able to apply their learning to their everyday jobs.

Emergency Medical Services Psychological Health and Safety Steering Committee

Since mid-2015, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Psychological Health and Safety Steering Committee (PHSC) has met twice a month to work on improving the psychological health and safety of EMS staff. This multi-disciplinary group has accomplished the following over the past 18 months:

  • Conducted a survey to gain a better understanding of the psychological health and safety needs of EMS leaders, employees and contractors. Action plans are being developed based on the results
  • Hired a 0.3FTE psychiatrist to support EMS
  • Over 180 peer supporters and leaders completed Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), which improved their knowledge and comfort to support their patients, peers and family when struggling with suicidal thoughts
  • Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) resiliency program: As of Dec. 12, 2016, 534 people in EMS (180 leaders and 354 frontline staff) have received resiliency training to support psychological safety
  • Increased EMS staff awareness of mental health support and available supports that are available through the AHS Employee and Family Assistance program

While the impact of the committee is still evolving, the work to date is laying the groundwork for a significant change in culture, which is often hard to do and takes perseverance.

Wellness Champion Network

Launched in 2013, the Wellness Champion Network (WCN) aims to improve social connections in the workplace and promote health and wellness topics to employees. The 2016 Employee Wellness Survey results showed employees identified physical activity, healthy eating, sleep and fatigue and mental health as areas where they would like additional support. The WCN supports these needs through their network of “Wellness Champions” across AHS portfolios.

The Champions support this through:

  • Identifying the health and wellness interests of their teams and promoting those topics to their coworkers
  • Creating opportunities for their team to learn more about health and wellness
  • Planning engaging activities for their coworkers to practice healthy behaviours.

The Wellness team creates ready-made resources in consultation with content experts to support the Champions in their role. There are currently 164 active Champions who inspire others to better their health and wellness at work. In 2016 alone, 68 new Champions have joined the network and have planned over 118 wellness initiatives, which have influenced 3,400 employees.

Sean Chilton, Vice President Collaborative Practice, Nursing and Health Professions

Sean Chilton continually demonstrates a strong commitment to the people across AHS, whether they be staff, volunteers, physicians, patients, families, or community stakeholders.

His leadership with the provincial Prevention of Violence committee, Infection Prevention & Control committee, and Quality and Safety Executive Committee demonstrates how important a safe and healthy workplace is to him. Sean is not just a member on the committee—he represents the voice of the frontline staff, the manager, and the patient by bringing forward their ideas and concerns. Sean also models a healthy work/life balance by staying active and eating healthy. He supports his team in a flexible work environment where family comes first

One of Sean’s greatest assets is his ability to give people his time – the most valuable asset of all – in order to listen with a genuine ear and willingness to provide sincere advice. He sends numerous hand-written thank-you notes every year to show his appreciation.

He is a mentor for many of us who are leaders in the organization because of his ability to be open and accountable and mindful of others. He has a clear goal of patient and family centred care but also ensures staff are cared for.

Reverdi Darda, Executive Director, Provincial Primary Health Care

Reverdi Darda always works to ensure people around her feel safe, empowered and valued.

One example of this is her involvement in the Peace Region Primary Health Care Collaborative, where over 100 internal and external stakeholders were engaged in the co-design of a primary health care Integrated Service Plan for the Peace Region. These plans were meant to address the gaps in service and meet the needs of the population identified during the session.

The Collaborative Core Committee had little to no experience with this level of engagement and co-design. Reverdi understood that to achieve results that met the needs of the population, she had to lead the group to innovative approaches that departed from the traditional methods of planning and engagement they were familiar with. Because of her fearless leadership, the collaborative felt empowered to do things differently to achieve results never before realized.

The Integrated Service Plan is currently in transition from planning to implementation, which makes the outcome difficult to measure. However, the most impactful outcome so far is ongoing learning about how to jointly plan and integrate health and social services with patients and communities, and develop and sustain meaningful partnerships beyond traditional health circles.

Innovation & Research Excellence

This award recognizes a team who demonstrates outstanding improvements to quality care, patient experience, patient or population health outcomes and/or health system performance through the successful introduction of an innovation or research project.

Award Recipient

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Team

Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the overwhelming and dominant cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea and colitis, with increasing incidence, severity and mortality over the last decade.

Following a course of standard antibiotic therapy for CDI, approximately 20 to 30 per cent of patients will experience a recurrence. The risk of recurrence continues to rise with each subsequent episode, approaching at least 60 per cent after the third episode and 75 to 80 per cent after the fourth episode.

Since 2013, the team treated more than 600 Albertans using a different technique, Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) — the process of transplantation of fecal bacteria from a healthy individual into a recipient. Their overall treatment success rate is 93 per cent, and they discovered that timely FMT can prevent 1.5 emergency room visits and 14 days of hospitalization due to CDI. This would save our healthcare system $30,000 per patient. FMT has significantly improved quality of life for these patients by approximately 50 per cent, as measured by a short-form health survey.

The team has established frozen stool banks in Edmonton and Calgary, along with screening and stool processing protocols to offer FMT on demand.


Fracture Liaison Services Team

Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) identifies osteoporosis patients who have suffered a low trauma (fragility) hip fracture. They focus on medication therapy as well as fall prevention strategies for this largely senior population and seek ways to improve outcomes, care, and ease their transition back into the community.

AHS sees over 2,700 hip fractures each year: 50 per cent of these patients have underlying diagnosis of osteoporosis, with a prior fragility fracture; 28 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men suffering from a hip fracture will die within the following year; one third of patients will suffer a re-fracture at one year, and 50 per cent will suffer another fracture within five years. FLS teams are seeking to reverse these statistics.

After twelve months, FLS teams improved patient outcomes and access to hip repair surgery: patient access to surgery within the critical first 48 hours increased to 89 per cent from 77 per cent; and patients discharged with osteoporosis medication increased by six per cent.

FLS is a project of the AHS’ Bone and Joint Health SCN and the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute. FLS launched at the Misericordia Community, Peter Lougheed, and Red Deer Regional hospitals; further expansions are planned this year.

Glenrose Rehabilitation Research & Technology (GRRIT) Team

The Glenrose Rehabilitation Research Innovation and Technology (GRRIT) hub is a dedicated innovation sandbox within the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. It facilitates collaborations between the heathcare system, industry and academia to improve outcomes for our patients.

Innovations realized by the GRITT team include:

  • Adjustable stairs that allow patients to gradually increase their ability to move up and down
  • Electronic hot/cold sensor that assists a healthcare provider’s understanding of a patient’s ability to sense hot and cold in various parts of the body
  • ReTouch Table that allows patients to play games designed for therapeutic exercise. It is mounted on a height-adjustable frame so it can be used by children, wheelchair users or standing/sitting adults.
  • Development of a bench for amputees that supports the shortened limb. This bench will replace the current model and allow easier adjustment for the therapist as well as greater range of movement and more comfort for the amputee

As well as developing ideas into innovations, GRRIT has also stimulated a culture of innovation and change into many of the areas of the Glenrose.

MAID Care Coordination Teams

The Supreme Court of Canada gave Canadians the right to seek an assisted death as of February 6, 2016.

By January 2016, an AHS Interim Clinical Directive was in place and an AHS web page was created, providing access to the educational resources and other materials the team had developed.

Medical Assistance in Dying Care Coordination Teams are now well-established in both North and South Sectors of AHS. As the first contact for a patient seeking information on any aspect of Medical Assistance in Dying, a nurse navigator is a fundamental and critical part of the Care Coordination Team. Three nurse navigators, supported directly by medical leads and AHS programs like Addiction and Mental Health and Clinical Ethics, fulfill this coordination role within the province.

The Medical Assistance in Dying Care Coordination Team model has proven ideal for quickly responding to patients requests regarding Medical Assistance in Dying, whether merely for information or for providing navigation and coordination of services to a patient that has moved to a final decision.

Medicine Hat Regional Hospital CoACT Team

CoACT teams across the province practice RAPID Rounds—an opportunity for all Collaborative Care Team members to come together to discuss the plan of care for a patient and what needs to happen that day to move the care plan forward. The CoACT team at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital (MHRH) has taken this one step further with the development of the eRAPID rounds iOS app.

The application provides a robust platform to view, discuss and update the care plan for each patient. This provides the entire team with a birds-eye view of each patient’s care plan so they can prepare for a seamless discharge, or identify any barriers to discharge and how they might be overcome.

Automated reminders regarding catheter removal, venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, medication reconciliation and mobility built into the app trigger conversations at RAPID Rounds and reduce the risk of tasks being overlooked, potentially leading to increased patient safety.

When compared to regular RAPID rounds whiteboards, the following gains have been achieved through using eRAPID.

  • 17 per cent increase in discussing antibiotic use
  • 3 per cent increase in discussing catheter use
  • 11 per cent increase in discussing Deep Vein Thrombosis

As the usability testing is currently underway, the team has developed an evaluation framework to measure the applications impact.

Quality Improvement

This award recognizes teams who have made evidence-based quality improvements in the health system which achieved improved health outcomes for patients and their families and/or organization or clinical effectiveness. Clinical and non-clinical teams that have implemented or redesigned a system issue, process or aspect of care which achieved exceptional improvements can be nominated for this award.

Award Recipient

South Health Campus Unit 58 – Falls Management

Unit 58 (U58) at South Health Campus (SHC) has made large gains in quality improvement by developing a successful and sustainable fall risk management strategy. This included the development of the Reduce Patient Falls algorithm. It called for a list of actions to be taken to prevent falls, including indentifying risk of falls, patient education, universal falls precautions, post fall assessment plan, increased reporting in the Reporting and Learning System for Patient Safety (RLS), and more.

While the number of falls reported increased initially—which was expected as staff had reached 100 per cent compliance for reporting falls in RLS—from a high of 20 reported falls per month (January 2015), there has been an overall decrease to six reported falls per month (September, October and December 2016).

RLS data also shows a higher incidence of reporting of close calls, and fewer injurious falls over the same 30-month period. 71 per cent of falls having no apparent harm, 27 per cent having a minor degree of harm, and less than 2 per cent of reported falls having a moderate degree of harm

This strategy has spread to other inpatient units at SHC, who have also seen a reduction in falls and severity of harm.

Stollery RAH NICU Baby’s Journey

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital teamed up with Women’s Health, Pediatrics and patients and families to identify and improve efficiency, patient/family satisfaction and increase teamwork between departments.

Using AHS Improvement Way methodology, they discovered 40 per cent of the infants admitted to the NICU changed care teams at least once during their stay, resulting in potentially avoidable handovers between care providers. This can add one to two days onto the total length of stay, and increases the risk of medical errors.

The solution was to change the three-care team assignment from location-based to patient based. The care teams would no longer work in fixed pods, rather they would follow the patient regardless of their assigned bed location.

Once this was implemented, the team noted the following successes:

  • Number of patient moves across care teams reduced from 40 per cent to 0.3 per cent
  • Time required to complete daily patient rounds reduced by 7.5 person-hours/day
  • More timely blood draws for qualified patients
  • Less doses of antibiotics per patient
  • Average length of stay decreased by 12 hours which resulted in a savings of 10 post-partum bed-days per month


Dialysis Modality Education Project

Dialysis demand increases year over year, placing increasing capacity and financial pressures on the provinces two renal programs to provide this lifesaving therapy. Compared with in-center hemodialysis, self-care (including home dialysis) is less resource intensive and has similar clinical outcomes.

The goal of the modality education project was to develop, implement and evaluate provincial education that gives patients the information, skills and support in making decisions regarding dialysis options. Education champions from the Northern Alberta Renal Program (NARP) and the Southern Alberta Renal Program (SARP) worked together (along with patients and families) to produce a provincially consistent approach to introductory modality education. This approach includes an education pathway, content development, a video, and an evaluation plan. The content and video detail the different types of dialysis and their potential advantages and challenges, including patient testimonials that describe the impact of the different modalities on everyday life.

The rollout was completed in April 2016 in SARP and November 2016 in NARP. As of December 2016, 152 patients have been referred for group modality education, 119 of which have attended the introductory modality education. 100 per cent of participants in Edmonton would strongly recommend the education to others.

Foothills Endoscopy Outpatient Access

The Foothills Medical Centre's Endoscopy unit brought together a team of physicians, managers, nurses, unit clerks, booking clerks, and a process improvement consultant to find ways to reduce their waitlist of 5566 patients (2016).

The cross functional team examined the entire process, making observations on timing and talking to the staff and patients on the unit to gather their feedback. In addition to incremental changes to improve the process, two larger-scale pilots were launched.

To decrease patient length of stay, they standardized the admission and recovery process, streamlined the cleaning of beds, and more. These and other changes resulted in patient length of stay on the day of an endoscopy procedure decreasing from 3h13m to 1h45m.

The second pilot sought to increase procedure room utilization. This was accomplished through a variety of ways, including regular updates to physicians on their waitlist numbers and better cross-coverage for booking clerks. As a result, procedure room utilization increased from 70 per cent to 90 per cent.

Total waitlist numbers have reduced from 5566 to 4528, meaning 1038 more patients have been seen by the same number of staff.

Medical Assistance in Dying

The Supreme Court of Canada gave Canadians the right to seek an assisted death as of February 6, 2016. AHS had a positive obligation to develop mechanisms to ensure that assisted dying in Alberta, both within AHS and beyond, was provided in both a safe and effective manner.

There was no precedent for the operationalization required; the team not only put the structure in place, they also operationalized the service in a very short space of time. Development of this service involved the creation and revision of a policy, identifying and creating operational processes, incorporating improvement feedback loops, and much more.

This work was unprecedented and represents one of the greatest social changes in healthcare in a generation. Patients and families were engaged from the beginning with public representation on all of the groups developing this work.

Through various reviews, new learnings are incorporated in to the process. Thus far, the team has revised the pharmacy protocol and continued to refine the processes used by the care coordination service. New documents to support providers and the public continue to be generated based on new needs identified.

Pulmonary Clinic Patient Wait Time at Kaye Edmonton Clinic, University of Alberta Hospital

A cross functional team of physician, manager, nurses, pulmonary function testing (PFT) lab technician, respiratory therapist, registration clerks, and booking clerks, along with two improvement consultants were brought together to reduce wait times at the Kaye Edmonton Pulmonary outpatient clinic.

A travel log sheet was developed that accompanied the patient through their visit, so that time spent with a healthcare professional and time spent in between could be captured. Data showed gaps in patient communication and a lack of transparency on how the appointments were scheduled were some challenges the team had to overcome.

To decrease the amount of time a patient waits before a visit, the team staggered the start time of patient appointments, streamlined the booking procedure and improved communication to patients. Patient length of stay decreased from 240 minutes to 135 minutes, and wait time during the visit decreased from 105 minutes to 30 minutes. The team also made changes to decrease the total wait time for accessing the PFT lab by 50 per cent.

These and other changes resulted in patients being booked for a procedure 52 day sooner.

Distinguished Service

This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts and achievements of an individual who, with a combination of an extensive career and exceptional qualities and skills, has provided exceptional leadership and has fundamentally influenced continuous improvement, innovation and commitment to support positive change. This individual promotes diversity of people and ideas, work life balance, recognition and teamwork practices, models and inspires others to achieve excellence in their work.

Award Recipient

Isabel Henderson, Senior Operating Officer, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital

For over three decades, Isabel Henderson has been an influential health system leader and innovator committed to continually improving rehabilitative care and the quality of life for patients and families affected by disability and chronic disease. She continues to pursue a person-centred culture of innovation, continuous improvement and accountability always keeping the focus on meeting the needs of patients and families.

Isabel continuously seeks an “improved ways of doing things” that integrates clinical care with research, education, collaboration, innovation and evidence-informed practices. She has helped transform services, access and delivery at the Glenrose to the betterment of more than 80,000 patients. Her tireless efforts have positioned the Glenrose as a leader in the delivery of novel rehabilitation services in our province and across Canada.

Through her vision and tireless efforts Isabel has become a respected and influential leader within the Canadian healthcare community as well as being recognized internationally. Isabel continues to champion the role technology can play in maximizing the independence of rehab clients and has played a pivotal role in advancing technologies and centres of excellence.

Her lasting impact on the quality of the lives of the frail and vulnerable populations we serve cannot be overstated.

Mary Muir, PCAT Site Lead, Stollery Children's Hospital

Mary Muir spearheaded the challenging yet successful implementation of PCATS (Pediatric Canadian Access Targets for Surgery), a surgical priority system for improved patient outcomes, for children in Alberta. She was then asked to help implement a similar priority system for adults, which led to the provincial implementation of ACATS (Adult Coding Access Targets for Surgery).

Mary has created a national impression of quality and professional expertise for our province and AHS. AHS and the Stollery are nationally recognized as inaugural member of the Canadian Surgical Pediatric Surgical Wait Times Project (CPSWTP) and for the maintenance and quality implementation of PCATS.

Mary’s efforts ensure that the planning of care is patient focused, clinically minded, and allows for the optimal timing of access to surgical services within recommended timelines for best care outcomes. She also ensures surgical teams have access to the tools and performance reports they need to best work as a team and are able adjust their work practices to deliver optimal patient care.

Mary’s ongoing and effective efforts to seek innovation and build collaborative relationships within AHS, other pediatric health centers, hospitals and professional organizations has led to excellence in the delivery of pediatric services and ensured better benchmarking and operative best practices locally, provincially and across the country.


Dave Bilan, Former Interim Vice President, Collaborative Practice, Nursing and Health Professions

Dave is an innovative leader, with great respect for inter-professional practice, collaboration and engagement. He leads by example, positively supports people through change, and always ensures credit is given to those responsible for great work–as such, he inspires and encourages the people and teams he leads and collaborates with. Dave’s motivation is focused on the patient, our people, and the organization. He is a passionate advocate of collaborative practice, patient-focused care, safety, diversity, engagement, professional development and continuous learning.

Dave began his career as a Calgary General Hospital pharmacist, since then his interests have led him to roles with increasing responsibility and influence. He played a pivotal role in establishing the Calgary Health Region, leading transformation, advocating for health professions, and developing community-based health advisory groups including Alberta’s first Aboriginal Health Council.

His advocacy for health professions has helped create and implement leading strategies, frameworks, policies, bylaws and regulations including the Health Professions Act; these and many other achievements required collaboration with regulatory colleges, Alberta Health, the public, and AHS operations. He’s led transformative initiatives, established accreditation required organizational practices, and spearheaded development and education opportunities for health professions, and students.

Dr. Ann Colbourne, Senior Medical Director, Culture, Transformation and Innovation

Dr. Colbourne has championed and stewarded the planning, design and implementation of CoACT, a Collaborative Care model in which leading practices were implemented in 161 AHS acute care units to strengthen the patient and family focus, quality, team functioning and workforce optimization.

Her ‘from the heart’ values-based and collaborative leadership style is reflected in the spirit, respect, trust and loyalty exemplified within the teams she leads. She is quick to commend work and acknowledge effort. In every project undertaken, Dr. Colbourne enthusiastically encourages teams forward through the hardships and struggles of change.

Dr. Colbourne’s distinguished career includes significant recognition: she is the first woman and international recipient of the prestigious Mayo Clinic Plummer Society Award of Excellence (2011). She was also recognized, along with the rest of the for her visionary and inspirational leadership as clinical lead for the Care Transformation Team with the Medicine, Renal and Neurosciences Programs at Edmonton’s University of Alberta and the Royal Alexandra Hospitals (2013 President’s Excellence Award in Quality and Safety Improvement).

Diane Shanks, Director, Emergency, Critical Care, Medical and Cardio Respirator for South Zone Acute Care West

Diane Shanks has enjoyed a 35 year career in nursing that’s taken her from the frontlines of emergency care to her current position as the South Zone Acute Care West’s clinical care director responsible for the emergency department, ICU, in-patient medicine, cardio-respiratory services, stroke services, trauma services and bed utilization.

Diane is a dedicated, gifted nurse and administrator who stays close to day-to-day operations to better support her patients, clinical teams, quality care and services. Her commitment to improving patient care experiences is demonstrated by her success in reducing Chinook Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department wait times to the shortest in the province. This achievement garnered local, provincial and national recognition and praise.

Diane is a mentor and influential leader in the south zone and across the province. She is an advocate for creating a system that works for Albertans and care providers and is always the first to ask how the patient is represented or affected by our decisions, initiatives, potential interventions, or priorities. She is a strong advocate for clinicians and her broad experience delivering health care in Alberta has been invaluable in the work of many of the SCNs discussions and committee work.