#OneEastToronto shares the faces of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), a group of more than 50 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto, as well as patient and caregiver advisors, working together to improve the way people find and get care.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 24 to 30), meet Ellen Pisani, a volunteer patient advisor.
“I’ve always wanted to be able to help within the healthcare sector. Years ago, I went through a serious health issue and, before that, my mom went through something similar. We were both intubated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at hospitals during different periods. I’ve also had complications during my two pregnancies and, at one point, was going to Michael Garron Hospital almost every day for appointments.
These experiences made me realize how complicated the healthcare system can be, especially for people who don’t speak English or face other barriers that prevent them from finding and getting the services they need. So when I saw the opportunity to join East Toronto Health Partners’ (ETHP) Community Advisory Council and to advise the communications and engagement strategy for the Primary and Community Care Response Teams, I thought this would be a good way to help improve how patients navigate health services.
I’ve been part of these groups for about a year now, where I’ve had the opportunity to share my experiences as a patient and advise on how different health services can be more patient-friendly. As part of the Community Advisory Council, I am also working with others to develop a caregiver ID program at healthcare organizations in our area, which helps ensure unpaid caregivers, like family members and friends, are formally recognized as part of the patient’s care team. This helps ensure they’re included in every step of the patient’s journey – whether that be at the hospital, at home or elsewhere – and can support their loved one where needed.
I love being a volunteer advisor with ETHP because it’s an opportunity to be part of something that can potentially improve someone’s life. I’ve also met so many other volunteers who have participated in so many initiatives behind-the-scenes in healthcare and who have given so much of their lives to improving the way our health system works. It’s really inspiring to see how much people are contributing.
I also volunteer in hospice care for Philip Aziz Centre, an ETHP organization. I find my work with both this organization and ETHP really rewarding. It feels good to be doing something for the greater good. We all need healthcare at some point in our lives, so why not play a part to try and better it?”