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Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 President’s Award
11 minute read

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 President’s Award


This year, there were 27 nominations for the President's Award with nominations coming from areas across SickKids, including clinical, administration, research and learning. Three individuals and two teams received this year's awards!

The President's Award was introduced in 2011 to recognize staff, teams, students and/or volunteers who demonstrate superior leadership and collaboration resulting in major contributions to the organization. The award was redesigned in 2015 and integrated the Humanitarian Awards, a program that had been run by SickKids Foundation for over 20 years.

This year, there were 27 nominations for the President's Award with nominations coming from areas across SickKids, including clinical, administration, research and learning. Three individuals and two teams received this year's awards!

The recipients were presented with their awards at the staff Celebration of Excellence party on Dec. 7.

Award recipients

Woman and man stand side by side holding plaque.
Helen Edwards and Michael Apkon.

Helen Edwards

Helen Edwards, Director, Clinical Informatics and Technology Assisted Programs at SickKids, was recognized under the following award categories: Championing the Evolution of Health Systems; Commitment to Compassion; and Enhancing our Infrastructure.

Helen has made considerable contributions to the advancement of patient care, education and SickKids' strategic directions for over 36 years. She is truly a leader and expert in clinical informatics and technology, and has fostered a sense of belonging, camaraderie and teamwork within her portfolio.

Most recently, Helen has leveraged her exemplary leadership skills to guide the very complex implementation of Epic, our new integrated health information system. She is the key clinical lead for implementation, sitting on governing committees and local decision-making groups, and her clinical implementation expertise and calm and can-do attitude inspires confidence amongst her team and senior management.

Helen sets high standards for herself and her team. She always leads by example, and her enthusiasm for her work is contagious. She has an innate ability to energize and motivate her team through positive reinforcement. She is genuinely interested in the thoughts and opinions of her staff, and serves as both a coach and advocate to her team.

Helen's commitment to SickKids' values is evident in all projects she undertakes; she is collaborative, works well interprofessionally, and embraces challenges enthusiastically. Her leadership has helped foster a culture of excellence in clinical care at SickKids.

Woman, two children and man pose together with a plaque.
Mike Apkon presents Sitara and her two children, Hunter and Willow, with her President's Award.

Sitara de Gagne

Sitara is a Family Advisor at SickKids, and was nominated under the category of Improving Quality and Safety.

Sitara's understanding and devotion to equitable care has been instrumental to the success of several quality improvement projects at SickKids. As a member of the Family Orientation Quality Improvement Project, she played a key role in identifying that access to orientation information requires considerations of the very diverse populations we serve.

Sitara is forever selfless in giving her time and energy to speak at orientations, workshops and conferences. She is a member of the Family as Faculty Program, where she is articulate and generous in sharing her and her son Hunter's story for educational purposes for all staff.

Sitara is a true champion of child and family-centred care. Through her work as Family Advisor, she shows SickKids daily how to be authentically partner and engage with patients and families to best support patient safety.

Five staff stand together, four holding award plaques.
Left to right: Erin Vandeven, Dr. Peter Cox, Mary McAllister, Julie Watson and Mike Apkon. Not pictured: Sandhaya Parekh.

Inpatient Sepsis Recognition Pathway Implementation Team (Sepsis Team)

Members of the Sepsis Team, including Julie Watson (Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Lead), Erin Vandeven (Project Lead), Sandhaya Parekh (Education Lead), Mary McAllister (Associate Chief, Nursing Practice), Dr. Peter Cox (Associate Chief and Division Head, PICU), were recognized under the category of Innovating to Drive Impact.

This exceptional team has leveraged their unique knowledge, skills and abilities to become more than the sum of their individual strengths to improve inpatient sepsis recognition at SickKids. They developed an inpatient sepsis pathway, prototypes, curriculum bundle, training plan, evaluation metrics and sustainability strategies to improve the quality of care and enhance patient safety at SickKids.

The Sepsis Team also established a strategy to test the inpatient sepsis pathway on four units, evaluate its effectiveness in identifying children with potential sepsis and collect staff feedback on the usefulness

of this tool. The tool itself is innovative, as it integrates error prevention strategies to assist clinicians to create a shared mental model and communicate concerns and assessments with one another clearly.

The work of the Sepsis Team has culminated in the establishment of a core sepsis indicator included in SickKids' 2017-18 Quality Improvement Plan. In addition, a process indicator – focused on having 80 per cent of nurses complete all four elements of the sepsis curriculum bundle by Dec. 31, 2017 – is on track to be met or exceeded.

Two men stand together wearing suit jackets. One holds a plaque.
Dr. Peter Laussen receives his award from Apkon.

Dr. Peter Laussen

Dr. Peter Laussen, Chief of Critical Care Medicine, was nominated by his Critical Care Advance Practice Nursing colleagues under the nomination categories of: Improving Quality and Safety; Championing the Evolution of Health Systems; and Commitment to Compassion.

Peter's transformational leadership style has catalyzed consistent innovation and improvements to advance the quality of care provided to critical care patients and families. Alongside Dr. Steven Schwartz and the nursing leadership team, Peter was instrumental in establishing the first Paediatric Cardiac Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Program at SickKids. He contributed to the collective vision of how advanced nursing contributes to best services for vulnerable critical care patients.

Peter's strong curiosity about the roles and perspectives of the diverse team in Critical Care Medicine has increased interprofessional integration in-day-to-day operations, teaching and in overcoming challenges. Despite being an internationally recognized expert in paediatric cardiac critical care

medicine, Peter has natural humility and generosity, making it easy for others to connect with him. He is ever present to listen, answer questions and capitalized on a teaching opportunity.

Peter is extremely generous with his time when speaking with families. His empathy for these individuals, who are often experiencing some of the most challenging times in their lives, is unmatched. Given the profound dedication Peter has for his patients and their families, it is no surprise that they always admire and appreciate his calm demeanour, kindness and genuine understanding and compassion.

From left: Erik Vandeven, Michelle Legasto, Apkon.

Michelle Legasto and Erik Vandeven

Michelle Legasto and Erik Vandeven, Wednesday night/Teen Night Marnie's Lounge Volunteers, were nominated under the category Commitment to Compassion.

Wednesday night in Marnie's Lounge is particularly special because Michelle and Erik make the experience magical. They are year-round volunteers that dedicate their time every Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m., providing consistency that families can count on.

From the moment anyone steps in the door, Michelle and Erik welcome them with huge smiles, a silly joke to calm nerves when answering infection control questions, and a friendly introduction to the space if it's the patient's first time visiting.

Michelle is very crafty and musical, while Erik is the joker, the tester and the game player. They work so hard to make patients forget they are in a hospital and help them to focus on having fun, to belly laugh and be silly; they welcome patients to be simply kids.

Michelle and Erik help foster feelings of friendship and connectedness amongst patients who have otherwise become socially isolated from their peers and might not feel comfortable leaving their room. They promote acceptance and are true friends to patients from the moment they walk into Marnie's.

Congratulations to all the President's Award winners for your accomplishments and for the outstanding contributions you make to SickKids!

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