Karen Connors

Karen Connors
Manager of Patient Relations

I always knew that I wanted to work in health care. My background is in Social Work. I started my career in Newfoundland, working in the provincial psychiatric hospital and the general hospital on the Northern Peninsula that also served Labrador and parts of Quebec.  It was an experience that demonstrated the importance of community in terms of providing care. Without resources close at hand, people work together to find unique solutions. I have been in Ontario now for 30 years and worked in child welfare, hospitals, education and for the LHIN. The best teachers have been the patients and families I have had the honour to work with and the wonderful colleagues I have worked alongside.

In my role as Patient Relations Manager, I work with patients and families who need support in addressing concerns or who wish to share system feedback. We work with the teams and other community partners to help resolve the concerns of patients and families, with an eye to how we can use what we hear to help drive positive change.

The patients I’ve worked with in the past come to my mind every single day. They remind me that there are real people behind the issues that exist in health care. That’s an incredibly strong motivator to make things better. It has changed the way I work.

Sometimes, the most powerful stories are the ones where things did not go well, where I wish I could have done more. Those are the ones that sit with me. When I think about the people I’ve met along the way, it makes me want to do all I can to improve the broader system. The great moments for me are when we have worked as a team to help a resident of our LHIN navigate the system and receive the services they need.

The feedback we receive can be a rich source of information to help us improve the system. My goal is to support improved communication while creating a non-adversarial atmosphere.  While ensuring that patient and family concerns are voiced and represented, it is also essential to support staff through the resolution process. It’s an amazing thing when you can work together to resolve concerns and watch frustration dissipate. Each of those stories helps us understand patterns and where there are real opportunities to make positive changes to the system.

It’s exciting to see how the patient experience has grown and is still growing, changing and evolving. We’ve made remarkable progress when I compare it to where we were even a few years ago. While it is amazing to see the significant changes across the system, we can never lose sight that for patients and families, it’s absolutely critical that they sense that people care about them.

I am fortunate to work in health care where so many people have a passion for their work and the patients they care for. It makes me want to work harder.

I work hard not to get caught up worrying about what can’t be done. If we focus on the one small thing we can do or change right now to help support a patient or their family, and staff at the same time, it will move us in a positive direction. Some of the best moments are when you’re faced with a big challenge, and you work with your colleagues and service partners to come up with a solution.

When I reflect back, I see how far we’ve come. We have a ways to go, and I believe we will get there.  In 10 years, we’ll be impressed with how much more we will have accomplished.

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