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Engaging Patients

Get to Know the Council

Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council

Council Member Biographies

As an active volunteer in Ontario’s not-for-profit sector for over two decades, Lucie Allard has a keen understanding of the growing importance of the community and health care sectors, as well as the need to expand and sustain services and support delivered to residents.

Lucie has held positions with United Way Centraide Ottawa, and at Ontario Trillium Foundation where she was chair and member of the Waterloo Wellington Dufferin grant review team. She currently serves on the Board of Community Support Connections – Meals on Wheels and More of Waterloo Region.

As a francophone residing in southwestern Ontario, Lucie is aware of the importance of respecting cultural challenges when services are delivered. Through her volunteer work as well as personal difficulties navigating the health system and accessing acute health resources and community support, Lucie has a perspective she hopes will help identify gaps and help shape a more equitable, flexible, and responsive health care experience across the province.

Donna Brown-Bowers brings her personal experience as a cancer patient to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Public and Family Advisors Council. During her nine-month journey at Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton, she became aware of the need for mentorship and psychosocial support during and after treatment. She has been cancer free since 2011.

Retired for 10 years after a long career in the life insurance industry with a background in paediatric nursing, Donna now focusses her time and energy volunteering for many local organizations. At Hamilton Health Sciences, she is a member of the Patient and Family Advisor Team, and a Patient Advisor on the Clinical Planning and Advisory Council and the Patient Experience Steering Committee. She also volunteers in the chemotherapy suite at Juravinski Cancer Centre.

Donna strongly supports personal advocacy and empowered community relationships. Through her participation on the Advisors Council, she wants to help focus on patients’ needs and ultimately make positive changes for people using the health system in the future.

Samira Chandani views the health care system through many lenses. She has been a patient and a caregiver. She is a visible minority and lives with a disability. Through her volunteer work focused on women’s development, health and disability, poverty alleviation, elderly and aging and settlement, she has also witnessed the challenges faced by many communities.

Samira has been an advisor to a number of organizations, focusing on helping to improve cancer screening and related services for people with disabilities, and South Asian Women. She has been a volunteer with Health Canada, York Central Hospital, Willow Breast and Hereditary Cancer Support, and Centre for Independent Living in Toronto. 

As part of the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council, Samira’s diverse background and experience will help give a voice to the needs of many groups and help ensure they are represented in the pursuit to improve health quality in Ontario.

David Chilton was drawn to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisor Council by his particular interest in psychology, psychoanalysis and mental health, and his own history of depression. His first major depressive episode occurred when he was 25 years old, and he has suffered from similar episodes each decade since.

After graduating from York University, David attended Ryerson University to study journalism, and has worked as a professional journalist for 30 years. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, he writes and edits crime and literary fiction, and sometimes mentors emerging writers. David hopes his contribution to the Advisors Council will encourage others to seek professional help for their depression, particularly those who don’t do so for reasons of misunderstanding, cultural bias or social stigma. He further hopes to emphasize how important social supports are to mental health.

With a combined personal and professional interest in public policy and health care, Adellah Chimbindi brings unique perspective to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from York University and recently completed post-graduate studies in Public Administration at Humber College.

While at York University, Adellah was selected to attend the Emerging Global Leaders Program that helped promote students’ leadership skills. She was also part of the National Public Policy Committee Member for the Boys and Girls Club of Canada. Currently, Adellah is a Patient Advisor with the System Quality Advisory Committee’s Delivering Quality Working Group.

Adellah believes good public policy and health care delivery is integral to the success of any community and hopes the Advisors Council will help to promote effective and sustainable changes in the health system.

John Dabous was born, raised and currently resides in Sudbury, Ontario. He and his wife have two young children who have been the focus of most of his personal health care experience in his Northern community.

John is interested in the diverse and unique health care issues of Northern Ontario. He is currently employed at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. John is also currently pursuing graduate studies in the field of rural and Northern health.

Through his involvement with the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council, John’s goal is to ensure the rural and northern perspective is always considered, and hopes to make contributions that will result in positive improvements for Ontario’s health care system.

Marisa Granieri brings a multifaceted perspective to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council. She is the mother of two healthy children, the daughter of a woman diagnosed with cancer, and a patient living with fibromyalgia. Through her diverse personal experiences, she brings unique, multigenerational insights that she hopes can help improve the health system for others of all ages and stages of life.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Marissa is a Professional Engineer and has experience in manufacturing, project engineering, and marketing. She has held volunteer roles with York Region Catholic School Board, the Town of Richmond Hill, and the Regional Municipality of York.

Marissa is also a trained English Second Language instructor and has always been passionate about learning and teaching others. She believes her lifelong enthusiasm for improvement can help improve the health system in Ontario.

Bill Holling has experiences in the health system as a patient and a caregiver. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which resulted in the removal of one kidney in 2011. He also suffered a minor heart attack and underwent shoulder surgery in 2014. However, it was his experience acting as a caregiver for his elderly parents – emergency room visits, cancer treatment, and the long-term care program – that motivated him to become deeply engaged in the health system.

For 30 years, Bill worked in the newspaper business. One of his greatest achievements was leading a team to transform a floundering community newspaper into a profitable business. In the past, Bill was a volunteer at Chatham-Kent Victim Services (a crisis response unit with the local authorities) and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance on the Emergency Department Quality Care Committee. He is now helping to set up Patient Family Centered Care at the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Center.

Through his participation in the Health Quality Ontario Patient Family and Public Advisors Council, Bill wishes to help improve seniors’ health care for current seniors and plan for better care as the population ages.

The majority of Micheal Low’s experience in Ontario’s health care system is from his role as a caregiver. At Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto he has served as a Family Leader, and has been a member of the Quality Steering Committee. He recently joined the measurement and evaluation working group with Change Foundation.

A graduate of University of Toronto, Michael holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and currently works as a process develop engineer in the high-tech and automotive industries. His primary focus is to improve processes and uncover efficiencies to help organizations become more cost-effective and sustainable.

As part of the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council, Michael is committed to sharing his personal and professional experiences to help ensure that as health care demands increase, the system will grow in a sustainable way and patients will remain unique individuals with health needs that will be fulfilled.

Claude Lurette is an experienced, bilingual leader in patient engagement. He first became a volunteer in mental health and addiction services when he formed the first patient advisory committee at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre following his own treatment for a life-altering illness.

Claude went on to engage patients and clients in the community while sitting on a number of policy and planning committees with the Champlain Local Health Integrated Network and the City of Ottawa. Claude currently sits on the Board of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Ottawa Branch; is Co-Chair of the Central Canada Depression Hub; and is a Lived Experience Team Leader for the Canadian Depression Research and Innovation Network.

Claude passionately shares his personal experiences at conferences, symposiums and in the media. He is supported by his life partner, two step-children, his siblings and his community to continue his work as both an advisor and advocate in Ottawa and across the country.

Following a 45-year career in administrative services, 26 in the public service, and her battle with cancer, Lynda McArthur became deeply involved in community volunteering. She first volunteered at the welcome desk at Kingston General Hospital Regional Cancer Centre in Kingston, and eventually became involved in patient-centred activities and programs at Hotel Dieu Hospital.

Lynda went on to chair the Patient and Family Centred Care Council at Hotel Dieu Hospital. In addition, as a Patient Experience Advisor, she has participated in the Budget Advisory Group of Senior Leadership, the Committee for Patient Family Centred Care Grants Approvals, the Urgent Care Centre Working Group, and the Patient Family Centred Care Steering Committee.

A cancer survivor for four years, Lynda will bring her patient-centric experience to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council and hopes to work with the group to bring together individuals’ experiences and help improve the health system as a whole.

Sara Shearkhani is the co-founder of a caregiver-led group, Family Caregivers Voice. Through this group, Sara is committed to educating family caregivers on their journey. It was borne out of her experience as her young husband’s caregiver following his cancer diagnosis in 2012.

Sara is also the lead for Patient and Community Engagement Research (PaCER) Toronto, a branch of PaCER Calgary, designed to train patients and caregivers as researchers, and dedicated to improving patient and caregiver engagement in the health care system. Sara’s achievements improving the health care system for patients and families were recognized in 2015 when she was chosen as one of the 20 Faces of Change in Ontario by The Change Foundation.

Sara is a Research Assistant at Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation of University of Toronto.

A parent of a child with a disability, Gideon Sheps joined the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Family Advisory Committee, where he has participated in a wide range of projects and committees at the hospital over the last decade. In 2013, he became a founding member and co-chair of the Bloorview Research Institute’s Family Engagement Committee. Gideon helped develop the framework for family engagement in research that is now being implemented. He has also presented at conferences about family engagement in medicine and research.

Gideon has worked in Information Technology for over 25 years in North America, Europe, and Asia. He hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, and post-graduate credentials from the University of Surrey Business School and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

As a member of the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council, Gideon aims to make sure the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and their families, are considered.

Gene Szabo’s life and career was refocussed over 30 years ago when he suffered a heart attack and committed himself to making a difference in the health system. Gene joined Health Canada’s then Medical Services Branch in the Northwest Territories as Head of Accounting Operations, and later as a research consultant in Community Health in Indian and Northern Health. Years later, Gene had bypass surgery and was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2012.

Over the past forty-five years, Gene has held volunteer leadership roles in organizations including Kiwanis Club, Scouts Canada, Ontario Lacrosse, Kanata Youth Centre, 872 Kiwanis Air Cadet Squadron, and the local Legion. Gene was a member and Vice President of the Ottawa Heart Institute Alumni, member of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Human Research Ethics Board, and member of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Board of Directors. He is currently Co-Chair of the Hospital's Patient and Family Advisory Council. In 2003, Gene received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for community service.

Through the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council, Gene hopes to help patients and families become full partners in their health care and create better options for seniors.

A recent caregiver for her father who struggled with Alzheimer’s for over 10 years, Kowsiya Vijayaratnam brings her personal experience and perspective to the Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council. As members of an ethno-cultural and linguistic minority group, Kowsiya and her family faced challenges in their journey to provide her father with the best support possible throughout his health care.

Kowsiya is a Professional Engineer with over 10 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry. She holds an MBA from Schulich School of Business, where she specialized in organizational behavior and strategic management. She has held various technical and leadership roles in which she managed staff, and successfully developed and executed various projects. She is currently supporting integration on one of the largest projects in the company’s history.

As part of the Advisors Council, Kowsiya aims to share insights and perspectives based on her family’s experiences as well as fresh ideas to help improve health care experience for all Ontarians.

Calvin Young has been actively involved in the Thunder Bay health community as a result of his own lung disabilities. After attending a local rehab program, Calvin saw opportunities for improvement and formed Every Breath Counts – a monthly peer group for people living with and affected by lung disease. The group educates patients, caregivers and family members and provides guidance for navigating the health system.

For 25 years Calvin worked in broadcasting, directing, and producing award-winning news and public affairs programs. During this time, he was one of the producers and directors of an annual telethon, which raised over $2 million for local cystic fibrosis research. Since retirement, Calvin has been a volunteer at Cystic Fibrosis Canada, The Canadian Red Cross, Catholic Family Development Centre, St. Joseph’s Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Association, Persons United For Self Help, and many more. In 2007, Calvin was named Thunder Bay’s Volunteer of the Year and was honoured by The Council of Canadians with Disabilities in 2005.

Let’s make our health system healthier

Join Our Patient, Family and Public Advisors Program

Patients, families and the public are central to improving health quality.

Claude Lurette and Kowsiya Vijayartnam, Health Quality Ontario Patient, Family and Caregiver Advisors Council Co-Chairs

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