Mary Maida is one of nine Patient Partners who joined Niagara Health leaders for a networking event highlighting the significant contributions and achievements of the Niagara Health Engagement Network.
When Mary Maida began her journey as a Patient Partner, little did she know the profound impact it would have on her life.
In fact, if you had told her four years ago she would collaborate on more than 25 Niagara Health initiatives, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.
Maida is one of the first Patient Partners with the Niagara Health Engagement Network (NHEN), which was established in 2019.
From a young age, Maida was a caregiver to her late-father and recalls spending “more time in the hospital than I did at school.”
This experience, as well as a four-week hospital stay and countless visits with her daughter - who was born several weeks prematurely with special needs, inspired Maida to become a Patient Partner and share her insights from a caregiver lens.
Patient Partners are volunteers who work alongside Niagara Health staff and physicians to co-create better healthcare experiences based on their own perspectives and interactions with Niagara Health.
Their involvement ensures that decisions are inclusive and reflect the diverse perspectives within our community, leading to continuous enhancements in healthcare delivery.
“Being a part of the team that has built the NHEN from the ground up has been a source of pride in my volunteer career,” says Maida. “From launching the program to now having had the opportunity to participate in more than 25 initiatives has been a great experience thus far.”
Maida is one of nine Patient Partners who joined Lynn Guerriero, President and CEO, Linda Boich, Executive-Vice President, Patient Experience and Integrated Care and other Niagara Health leaders for a networking event highlighting the significant contributions and achievements of the NHEN.
“It is important to stay connected with our Patient Partners and to show appreciation for their dedication to Niagara Health,” says Robert Cosby, Director, Patient Experience. “It is also important to give our Patient Partners the opportunity to connect with each other, learn about different initiatives and build relationships.”
"It is important to stay connected with our Patient Partners and to show appreciation for their dedication to Niagara Health."
Since launching the program, Patient Partners have collaborated on 175 initiatives across 26 Niagara Health programs. Initiatives include co-design, collaboration, interview panels, health literacy, committee membership, quality improvement and more.
“The perspective of patients, families and caregivers reflects a shift in shared accountability, embedding lived experiences and insights into our efforts to improve patient experience and quality of care.”
Maida says that one of initiatives she is most pleased to be apart of is the South Niagara Hospital Committee.
“The more we know and share as Patient Partners only helps the system to do better for everyone.”
In addition to her contributions to the South Niagara hospital, Maida has actively participated in several projects and committees including co-designing our Patient Bill of Rights, redesigning our Intensive Care Unit family waiting room and more.
Her milestone achievement, along with five and 10 initiative milestones, were recognized during the networking event.
In addition to celebrating successes, the event provided Patient Partners with the opportunity to share their input and provide feedback about the future of the NHEN.
“We are looking forward to expanding our impact and reach, specifically embedding Patient Partners into our culture and all that we do,” says Cosby. “This also means a more concerted effort on recruitment, particularly recruitment of more diverse perspectives.”
There are many different ways for Patient Partners to get involved. Patient Partners can participate in as many or few opportunities as they like, and can choose initiatives that match their interests, experiences and time commitment.
“I feel that the opportunity for positive experiences within the health system is possible,” says Maida. “I choose to look at my journey and openly share my stories, both good and those we can learn from, to better support and frame future experiences for patients.
“It’s such a fulfilling experience – and knowing you are helping to make a meaningful difference feels pretty wonderful too.”
To learn more about the Niagara Health Engagement Network or to apply to become a Patient Partner, please visit NiagaraHealth.on.ca/NHEN.