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Minister’s Medal

The Minister's Medal Honouring Excellence in Health Quality and Safety is a competitive, annual program designed to recognize the excellent work that health care providers do every day. It is presented each year by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care at Health Quality Transformation.

The Minister’s Medal provides an opportunity to recognize system champions who place the patient at the centre of the circle of care and have demonstrated exceptional work in collaboration and achieved sustainable results, while promoting system value and quality in the health care system.

The award aims to showcase and honour health system partners who have worked to achieve successes in putting the needs of patients first, in alignment with Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.


Team Winner: Hospital Without Walls, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN

  • The aim of Hospital Without Walls is to transform where and how it provides care to vulnerable and under-served populations.
  • Based out of Hamilton Health Sciences, the initiative works to improve service coordination for patients across the care continuum.
  • Outreach teams work in collaboration with patients, families, caregivers and health care and community service providers to develop coordinated patient care plans, to truly provide the holistic and individual support required to meet each patient’s needs.
  • This approach reduces barriers that patient’s may face such as access to care, health literacy, and social cognitive factors to create solutions that are developed in partnership with each patient.

Individual Winner: Regan Anderson, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN

  • Regan is the Chief Executive Officer of Wayside House of Hamilton, a community-based not-for-profit charitable organization that is committed to residential addiction treatment and supportive housing for males and transitional male youth.
  • He is dedicated to improving the system of mental health and addictions and goes beyond his leadership role at Wayside to engage with the addictions sector of health care across Ontario.
  • Regan has dedicated his entire professional career, and a large part of his personal life to engaging the needs of those battling substance addiction and concurrent disorders. Patient testimonies speak to Regan’s ability to connect on a meaningful level with patients as individuals, supporting them to be successful.

Patient, Family and Caregiver Winner: Margo Twohig, Central LHIN

  • Margo has extensive patient advisory experience and is currently the Co-Chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at North York General Hospital (NYGH).
  • She has made valuable contributions to numerous projects that focus on improving the quality of health care for patients and their families, such as clinical recruiting practices, professional practices, quality recommendations, accreditation, QI research, ethics, education programs and community awareness.
  • Margo is a patient engagement leader and empowers others to share their lived experience and have their voice heard in health care decision making. Her volunteer over the course of many years demonstrates immense dedication and personal motivation to ensure that patients are true partners in the design and delivery of health care.

2017 Minister’s Medal Honour Roll Recipients

The following applications demonstrated outstanding performance across the Medal criteria. These applications made it to the final stages of the review process and are recognized as honour roll recipients:

Team Honour Roll:

Individual Honour Roll:

Patient, Family and Caregiver Honour Roll:


Winner of Team Award:

Hospital Without Walls, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN

The aim of Hospital Without Walls is to transform where and how it provides care to vulnerable and under-served populations. Based out of Hamilton Health Sciences, the initiative works to improve service coordination throughout the patient’s care continuum.

Outreach teams collaborate with patients, caregivers, and health care and community service providers to develop coordinated patient care plans. Patient care plans help facilitate patients throughout their health care journey by tracking medication adherence for medical appointments and providing supports for patients struggling with literacy and health literacy.

Through the use of the outreach teams, any barriers that the patient faces such as access to care, poverty, level of education and literacy levels, and social cognitive factors are addressed and solutions are developed together with the patient. For example, the team works with patients and partners to complete applications for financial assistance in order to access adequate nutrition, safe housing, transportation to medical appointments, and medical equipment and supplies.

To date, Hospital Without Walls has made significant gains in health system improvements. Results after 6 months of the initiative’s implementation include: a 25.2% reduction in emergency department visits, 50% reduction in inpatient visits, 55.8% reduction in 30-day readmissions, and 41.9% reduction in ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSC).

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Winner of Individual Champion Award:

Regan Anderson, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN

Regan is the Chief Executive Officer of Wayside House of Hamilton, a community-based not-for-profit charitable organization that is committed to residential addiction treatment and supportive housing for males and transitional male youth. He is dedicated to improving the system of mental health and addictions.

Regan goes beyond his leadership role at Wayside to engage with the addictions sector of healthcare across Ontario, through his participation in numerous boards and committees, his partnership with local police services, and in his role as a post-secondary educator.  In addition, Regan helps to develop a revised social work curriculum at McMaster University, with the aim of having future social workers better understand the needs of people with mental health and substance misuse challenges.

Regan has dedicated his entire professional career, and the majority of his personal life to engaging the needs of those battling substance addiction and concurrent disorders. Patient testimonies speak to Regan’s ability to connect on a meaningful level with patients as individuals, supporting them to be successful. His professional and personal efforts and achievements demonstrate ingenuity, leading to positive outcomes at the system level.

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Winner of Patient, Family, Caregiver Award:

Margo Twohig, Central LHIN

Since 2012, Margo has been a Patient and Family Advisor (PFA) and is currently the Co-Chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at North York General Hospital (NYGH). As part of her work at NYGH, Margo has made valuable contributions to numerous projects on topics in quality improvement such as clinical recruiting practices, professional practices, quality recommendations, accreditation, QI research, ethics, education programs and community awareness.

Through the years, Margo has been an integral member of several committees, councils, boards, and task forces. She has shared her patient perspective on hiring panels for clinical chiefs, healthcare providers, research chairs, and served as a patient representative on several provincial organizations such as Health Quality Ontario. Some examples of her work include redesigning the chemotherapy clinic to better consider privacy and comfort for cancer patients, developing pamphlets for Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients, and putting together an online platform for the PFA community to share experiences and lessons learned.

Not only has Margo shared her own perspective, she has been a leader in encouraging and empowering others to share their patient experience perspective. Her volunteer commitment to patient experience over the course of many years demonstrates immense dedication and personal motivation.

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Honour Roll Recipients

Team Category:

North York General Hospital Hip and Knee Integrated Care Collaborative, Central LHIN

The North York General Hospital Hip and Knee Integrated Care Collaborative (ICC) was launched in April 2013 to address the issues encountered by hip and knee joint replacement patients across the care continuum. The ICC delivers value-based health-care by ensuring providers across the health system collaborate to address each patient’s unique needs. This model improves care for patients by assigning them a Patient Navigator – a Clinical Nurse Specialist who assists with managing care for pre-identified patient from referral to rehabilitation. The program is a success in part because of the collaboration between the patient and family advisor (PFA) and the inter-professional team, who work to streamline patients’ surgical experience and ensure they receive the best, most comprehensive care.

The ICC is one of the North York General Hospital’s (NYGH) proudest achievements and is changing the way care is delivered in the hospital. Across all quality metrics, the NYGH ICC is positively exceeding targets and sustaining results, including increased community access to care, reducing the length of stay, and improving patient satisfaction. Furthermore, NYGH has had the lowest wait times in the Central LHIN for the past four years, and is a leader provincially.

The ICC is an opportunity to lead the evolution of more accountable and sustainable health care in Ontario. By including the PFA as a permanent member of the steering committee to advise leadership on the directions for the ICC, NYGH is working to ensure that patient perspectives are heard and incorporated in the delivery of this program. The ICC has offered patients and their families a more patient centred experience by leveraging the expertise of all individuals who are involved in this work, to streamline and coordinate efforts to achieve better patient outcomes from diagnosis to rehabilitation.

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Muskoka Community Health Hubs, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN

The four Muskoka Community Health Hubs sites, Dorset, Port Carling, Wahta First Nation, and the Mobile Unit, provide primary health care and a number of support services to rural communities on the periphery of the District of Muskoka. The Hubs are now entering into their final year of a three year demonstration project.

The Hubs were developed in partnership with the district and municipal governments, a variety of health service provider agencies, and seasonal and permanent residents of Muskoka. This triad approach has resulted in a flexible and responsive system for meeting the health and human support service needs in these rural communities.

The primary objectives include providing primary care and a variety of other health and human support services to people in their home and communities, reducing usage of the ER for care that should be delivered at the primary care level, and to support local community growth and development.

To date, the Hubs have demonstrated consistent and sustained growth in the numbers of patients and community members who use the services. The Hubs have shown success in cost avoidance through reduced hospital ER usage and admissions. The Hubs have also successfully been connecting people to other support services such as mental health, poverty reduction programming, housing support, food security and transportation services. The Hubs plan to continue to expand these types of services they offer, and further program development to meet individual community needs.

The Muskoka Community Health Hubs have demonstrated collaboration in action, between governments, communities, healthcare providers, and healthcare agencies. The Hubs are looking forward to further enhancing community partnerships, program planning, and governance- with patients at the table every step of the way.

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Cross Sector Complex Care Program for Young Adults with Complex Medical Needs and a Developmental Disability, Central LHIN

The Cross Sector Complex Care program is a collaboration across a number of sectors including health, developmental services and housing with the shared objective of providing a community-based supported living solutions for nine young adults with complex health needs and a developmental disability. This collaborative program brings services together under one roof to provide seamless support delivered by a multi-disciplinary team. The model is driven by the individual needs and preferences of the persons being supported.

The partners of the program include the Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), March of Dimes Canada (MODC), Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), Reena Community Living Youth South (CLYS) and York Region Housing.  The model leverages the strengths and expertise from across the different partners to create an environment where the individual is supported in a holistic manner.

The program has offered young adults independence defined by their choice and preferences and provides an opportunity for them to live and thrive with their peers. The program has offered families new opportunities to help support their child and has provided an option for future planning to ensure their child is safe and supported throughout their life span.

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Care Coordination Program of Work, Mississauga Halton LHIN

The Care Coordination Program of Work (CCPW) is a multi-dimensional initiative created by the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). The initiative is an evidence-based re-design of its care coordination approach to enable delivery of better integrated, consistent, patient-centred care at the neighbourhood level. The primary goal of the initiative is to optimize the Mississauga Halton LHIN’s regional care coordination role, and strengthen its relationships with health and social service providers, including primary care to ultimately improve care for patients.

The initiative was conducted in two phases. The first phase focused on enhancing and standardizing tools/practices of care coordinators in order to develop/execute individualized care plans for patients. This phase also included the implementation of a consistent, plain-language patient and caregiver information package that was developed and validated using feedback from the Mississauga Halton LHIN’s patient and family advisory forum. Further feedback from patients who received the information package indicated the package’s usefulness in offering one, easy-to-understand place to consolidate all health information.

The second phase of the initiative used insights from patient/family surveys, service provider marker share analyses, and regional capacity study to inform realignment of the Mississauga Halton LHIN’s care coordination teams and contracted service providers to local neighbourhoods. Over six months, patients were supported through safe, smooth transitions to new neighbourhood service providers.

The initiative has demonstrated better whole-person care, increased patient and family trust in community care, and improvements in health care utilization. It has laid the foundation for Mississauga Halton LHIN, as a sector leader, to deliver on the Patients First mandate.

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Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, Central LHIN

The Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care (Yee Hong) is a non-profit organization serving seniors in the Greater Toronto Area. It plans and delivers services to enable seniors to live their lives to the fullest.

Yee Hong takes a client and family centered approach to the care they provide to clients, valuing the importance of educating, engaging and empowering their clients. There are frequent dialogues with the centre’s clients and families through phone calls and in person meetings.
Yee Hong designs innovative programs to meet client needs such as a play intervention program that supports people with dementia and an electronic learning platform for clients and their families. Yee Hong collaborates with other partners to instill the latest research and best practices into their planning. These collaborative partnerships include working with HQO, University of Toronto, Windsor University, and Ontario Trillium Foundation.

All four Yee Hong Centres received accreditation with exemplary standing for 2016-2020 - the highest honour and recognition awarded by Accreditation Canada for an organization's commitment to Quality and Excellence.

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Sanguen Health Centre Mobile Van, Waterloo Wellington LHIN

The Sanguen Health Van is a grassroots initiative that travels across the Waterloo Wellington LHIN region to provide care and support to people who have, or who are at-risk of, Hepatitis C. One of the important aspects of the Sanguen Health Van from a patient-centred perspective is that it incorporates the patients’ needs into their services. Rather than trying to fit patients into a certain care model, a care model is designed around each patient and their specific needs.

The initiative has not only connected a range of individuals to health and social support within their community, but it has also identified individuals not connected to any current services and initiated these supports. From a preventative stand-point, this initiative is important because it identifies people who are at high risk of Hepatitis C and takes the necessary next steps early on, which improves patient outcomes and saves vital health resources.

The results of this initiative have been overwhelmingly positive. Comments from the patients that utilize the service demonstrate the positive impact of this patient centred approach. Ultimately, this project has facilitated improved access to care for marginalized populations, with the number of people accessing the van increasing from 50 clients to 200 since its inception in 2015.

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Prevention of Error-based Transfers (PoET), Central West LHIN

PoET (Prevention of Error-based Transfers) is a quality improvement project that promotes the treatment that long-term care (LTC) residents want and can benefit from, regardless of where they are at in the healthcare continuum. The project minimizes the transfers and treatments that result from errors by ensuring that LTC residents are co-designers of their own treatment plans.

PoET uses a collaborative approach to address the problem of multiple end-of-life transfers to hospitals by examining the resident’s current decision-making processes and creating a solution that is based on restructuring those processes, without increasing the resources required to do so.

In 2014/2015, PoET participated in the Improving & Driving Excellence Across Sectors (IDEAS) Advanced Learning program, and then based on this work, were awarded the IDEAS Alumni Award, which has helped to support PoET’s spread throughout the Central West LHIN and beyond. PoET was also recognized as a Leading Practice by Accreditation Canada in 2016.

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Strengthening Communities in Scarborough, Central East LHIN

Strengthening Communities in Scarborough is a Housing First program that partners with Toronto Community Housing (TCH) to provide a system of mental health and addiction supports to tenants in a high risk TCH building in Scarborough. The program provides housing to people as well as the support services they need to stabilize and improve their health, and succeed in maintaining their housing. This approach is consistent with best-practices that have been successful in other cities across Canada.

The program includes social and recreational activities for residents, including skill based groups, family support programs, health and mental health prevention and promotion, and festive and celebrative events, to support individuals as they move from treatment to recovery, from illness to wellness.

Community Engagement has been a key feature of the program. Program staff work actively with members of the greater community such as emergency medical services and TCH staff to build awareness of the program’s services, and to develop a working relationship with the community resources in order to meet the needs of this vulnerable community.

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Individual Champion Category:

Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, North West LHIN

Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott is currently the Executive Vice President of Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC.) Rhonda is well-known in her community for being a collaborative, patient and family-centered, innovative and results-oriented leader. Rhonda is passionate about ensuring that patients and families are at the center of care, and is energized by new challenges and opportunities to better improve quality of care and the overall patient experience within her community.

Over the past 8 years, Rhonda has been a dynamic champion of (PFCC).  Under her leadership, cultural change has begun to take place within her community; a change that now recognizes an integrated commitment to patients and their families. Rhonda has been instrumental to the development of the Patient and Family Advisory Council to support the PFCC. The council is comprised of approximately 100 patient and family advisors, includes leadership representatives from all areas of the hospital, and works to create sustainable systems, structures and processes to support the work of the PFCC.

Rhonda’s dedication to PFCC has earned her the respect of her colleagues and recognition within her community as a patient-centred dedicated nurse leader. Her commitment to patients and families as partners, and continuous quality improvement is unwavering, and continues to drive innovation and improvements to patient outcomes in her community.

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Dr. Shannon Bauman, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN

Dr. Shannon Bauman is currently the Medical Director of Concussion North, an organization whose approach to injury prevention and management ensures that patients receive complete, integrated care. Concussion North is centered on treating patients and their families by focusing on symptom-based individual treatment plans. Shannon has used her experience as a patient to engage and improve future patient care by becoming an international leader in changing the landscape of concussion management within her community.

Since opening Concussion North three years ago, Shannon has assembled a team of allied care experts who provide comprehensive rehabilitation for concussion patients and integrated patient-centered care. Shannon has created a model of care at Concussion North that has enabled patients to access multiple concussion care providers within the same clinic and during the same appointment, thereby allowing Concussion North to live up to its motto of “providing the right care, at the right time, by the right provider.”

Shannon’s leadership and dedication to advancing the practice of concussion management within the medical community, and to increasing public awareness has and will continue to improve patient experiences and outcomes within her community.

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Hanaa Elkalza, Mississauga Halton LHIN

Hanaa Elkalza is currently a Regional Patient and Caregiver Engagement Coordinator at the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network. Hanaa’s passion and enthusiasm for engaging patients in building a system of care that’s conducive to their needs shines through in all of her interactions with patients, caregivers and their families.

Hanaa has extensive lived experience as a caregiver and has advocated on behalf of her spouse and other loved ones with confidence to ensure that they receive safe, effective and appropriate care. Her experience navigating the health care system has allowed Hanaa to understand the importance of embedding the patient voice in health care decision making.

In Hanaa’s current role, she has initiated the Health Links Patient Partnership (HeLPP) initiative which is a patient and caregiver group that works to embed the patient and caregiver voice into the health care system in order to foster improvements in the region’s approach to caring for patients. Through this initiative, and her daily work, Hanaa has developed trusting and valued relationships with her region’s most complex patients, and has helped to ensure that their needs are met.

Hanaa’s relentlessly positive attitude has and continues to inspire many patients and caregivers within Mississauga Halton to strive for and expect more of the health care system.

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Laura Williams, Toronto Central LHIN

Laura Williams is currently the Director of Patient Engagement at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto leading a large Patient Experience portfolio. She has also led patient engagement work at Holland Bloorview and Health Quality Ontario (HQO). Laura is a social worker by profession and has championed many programs and initiatives aimed at improving quality of care across the health system, including empowering members of the HQO Patient, Family and Public Advisors Council in key decision making, and creating opportunities to address inequities in access, design and delivery of health care across the province.

Laura is dedicated to understanding the needs of patients and families and the gaps in care, as described by them, to drive quality improvement. She is committed to addressing these needs in partnership with patients and families, and her warm and empathetic style helps them feel welcome and valued at every opportunity for meaningful involvement.

Laura has worked tirelessly to shift the culture in health care and transform the role of the patient from a passive recipient of care, to an active, constructive and contributing member of healthcare policy, governance, and design and delivery across the health care system.

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Patient, Family and Caregiver Category:

Robbie Stewart, Central East LHIN

Robbie was a patient advisor that made a significant impact to health care across the province, particularly at Lakeridge Health and the Durham Regional Cancer Centre. Robbie was passionate about improving the delivery of services at Lakeridge for his fellow patients, caregivers, and their families. Robbie inspired many people with his selflessness and courage.

Robbie played a pivotal role in Lakeridge Health’s Patient Experience Panel. As a patient voice, his presence and experience helped to make the hospital’s patient relations process more transparent and accessible for patients and families throughout the Durham Region.

Robbie was the Co-Chair of the Lakeridge Health Patient and Family Experience Advisory Council (PFEAC) and an active member of a number of other councils and committees within his community where he brought the patient voice and perspective to the forefront. Through his work Robbie changed the way people think about the care they receive and the role that patients can have as partners in their own care. Robbie used his experience to make a difference both within his community, and to empower other individuals to have their voice heard.

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Gwendolyn (Gwen) Piller, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN

Gwen was a member of Joseph Brant Mental Health Consumer Advisory Committee, and a champion within her community for individuals affected by mental health issues. As a person with lived experience herself, Gwen serves as a positive role model in patient engagement and advocacy for others affected by mental health issues.

During the two years Gwen was a member of Joseph Brant Hospital’s Mental Health Consumers Advisory Committee she initiated and ran their speakers series, and was instrumental in ensuring the group maintained good relationships with the community.
Gwen’s advocacy efforts for better housing conditions resulted in the Housing First Support Program at Summit Housing, an affordable housing environment offering clinical and concurrent disorders support through partnerships with various organizations.

Gwen’s dedication to community engagement and passion to “give voice” to those impacted by mental health and addiction has and continues to empower individuals within her community.

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