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Healthcare Change Makers

Health & Wellness Podcasts

Intimate and honest conversations with leaders about the joys and challenges of driving change in our complex and demanding healthcare organizations.




Intimate and honest conversations with leaders about the joys and challenges of driving change in our complex and demanding healthcare organizations.






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Paris Semansky and Patricia Hoffer: Communications Matters - Engage Early, Engage Often

Paris Semansky is Director, Communications and Public Affairs at CAMH. This role urges her to wear a variety of hats, including being a brand protector, advocate, and problem-solver. Patricia Hoffer also wears a number of hats while being Chief Communications Officer and Vice President, External Relations at St. Joseph’s Health Care London. She takes pride in leading a diverse and dedicated group of communicators and storytellers. In this episode, Paris and Patricia share key strategies that help them ensure their teams succeed in the healthcare setting, their thoughts on strategic integrated communications, the importance of removing the noise that comes with their jobs, and more! Quotables: “We’re known for the what and the how, but when we go back to the why then that’s where the strategy comes in and that’s where the purpose and the matter come in.” – PH “When you have a team approach, you bring much more diversity and thought, much more creativity, and much more strategy to the table.” - PH “Make sure that Communications has a seat at the leadership table, because without it we don’t have a line of sight on not just the issues, but opportunities that others won’t think about from a communications perspective, storytelling perspective, or brand perspective.”- PH “One of the core things we can do to make our team successful is to have our team not all be the same, in experience, socioeconomic background, racial background, religious background, there’s so many different components to that.” - PS “Our goal is to take your plan and enable success and make it sing no matter what it is, whether it’s an issue we’re trying to manage or a great story that we’re trying to tell.” – PH “When communicators have the opportunity to be at decision making tables in the middle of a crisis, we show our full scope of practice. We show our ability to be strategic and to think about the broader community.”– PS “The role and value of communications is all about driving culture, improving and strengthening our brand and reputation, and making that alignment of what are the priorities of the organization, what is the strategy, and how does that all converge with our community we serve.” – PH “We’re the boundary spanners and environment scanners, we’re looking at what’s going on in the world, we’re that contact with the outside world.” - PS “Provide time and opportunity and space to be proactive versus reactive because that fuels creativity and allows time for that strategic opportunity.”- PH “Why am I throwing the covers off in the morning?” - PH Mentioned in this Episode: CAMH St. Joseph’s Health Care London Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Dr. Devin Singh: Tackling the Barriers to Efficient Care

Dr. Devin Singh refused to be a bystander when he recognized inefficiencies in health systems, and he jumped into action by co-founding Hero AI – a clinical automation platform which aims to improve patient safety and wait times. Devin fuels Hero AI by tapping into his experiences and expertise as Emergency Physician at The Hospital for Sick Children to recognize the needs of providers and patients. “It was really important to think through what the real barriers are to improving care in our institution and beyond”, says Dr. Devin Singh when explaining the early stages of creating Hero AI. In this episode, Devin shares his journey on becoming an entrepreneur including the barriers and lessons learned, advice he would give to other healthcare leaders on driving innovation and change, and how the sports space inspires his career. Quotables: “I’m so blessed that SickKids was willing to take this new technology on - there are hard questions to tackle, and as an institution rather than shying away SickKids said this is important let’s figure this out.” -DS “Although there’s so much cool technology that’s evolving, the technology isn’t the most important part – it’s actually about the humans, and it’s about the workflow that is being adopted and enabled by the technology.” -DS “Don’t let what feels like brick walls you run into again and again early on in the journey actually feel like these are reasons not to continue. They’re actually exciting opportunities to break ground on something that’s new and novel.” -DS “Early on in the entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial journey, you want to find the people who are going to say no quickly. It means they represent a really different opinion or potential landmine or roadblock down the road.” -DS “I always find in the athletics or sports space it’s surprising to see how much failure someone has to go through to be great. And so that’s something I’ve really taken to heart around this idea of truly promoting a fail fast fail safe culture.” -DS “No one can ever take education away from you.” -DS Mentioned in this Episode: The Hospital for Sick Children Hero AI Special Olympics Ontario University of Edinburgh Cambridge University Dr. Jason Fischer Dr. Sasha Litwin Dr. Anna Goldenberg Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Dominic Giroux: The Power of Connection, Communication and Community

When Dominic Giroux transitioned into the role of President and CEO and Hôpital Montfort, he took a unique and personalized approach. This approach included having 1 on 1’s with a variety of people in the organization to get to know their views and what’s important to them. “You need to get to know your people first and earn their trust, and they will tell you what your priorities should be”, says Dominic when explaining the importance of engaging with staff and providing a listening ear. In this episode, Dominic opens up about what helped him transition into his CEO role, what patient safety means to him personally, his hopes about healthcare moving in one direction, and more! Quotables: “What I love about healthcare is the teamwork, the level of commitment by, quite frankly, the smartest and most dedicated professionals I’ve ever met.” -DG “Montfort has really become a social symbol for linguistic communities across the country, so it’s definitely a source of pride and privilege to be leading Montfort at this time.” -DG “I find that the challenge in healthcare is to sustain improvements made around safety. I prefer to pick an area of focus and be relentless about it for years in a row.” -DG “We need to continuously benchmark ourselves around patient safety. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of data in healthcare and we need to confront the brutal facts.” -DG “I find that serving on so many boards instilled in me something that I was lucky to learn early in my career, that governance matters in organizations. I would submit that no where is that more important than in healthcare, given both the challenges and opportunities we have in the system.” -DG “If I had a magic wand, having a clear long term capacity plan for healthcare in Ontario is paramount. For me, the capacity plan is health human resources and its capital.” -DG “I find that the internal conversations change when patient family advisors are in the room. The focus shifts from the care providers to the patients.” -DG “There’s always insightful information we receive from HIROC that we use for our risk management framework, our audit committee, the board, and frontline managers.”-DG Mentioned in this Episode: Hôpital Montfort Ontario Hospital Association Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Dr. Frank Martino: Leading with Passion and Inspiring Positive Change

In this latest episode of HIROC’s Healthcare Change Makers podcast, Dr. Frank Martino, President and CEO of the William Osler Health System, reflects on his leadership journey while emphasizing the importance of remaining positive and aiming high in your career, especially in the context of leading one of Canada’s largest community hospital systems. Dr. Martino highlights his organization’s ambitious initiatives, including the adoption of an advanced hospital information system, new redevelopment projects, and a groundbreaking partnership with Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU) School of Medicine. Our discussion also touches on Osler’s commitment to innovation, such as incorporating technologies like artificial intelligence into future healthcare delivery. Throughout the interview, Dr. Martino's passion for healthcare and his commitment to building strong partnerships and a resilient, patient-centric culture shines through. He talks about the importance of cultivating a positive workplace, building psychological safety within his organization, and the value of learning from failures. Dr. Martino also delves into his thoughts on his outstanding healthcare team at Osler and their unwavering commitment during challenges posed by the pandemic, and how his organization has evolved to respond to the complexities of serving a growing and diverse community since he joined in 1991. Our conversation even turned personal for a moment as Dr. Martino shared a few heartwarming memories from his experience, including a critical life-saving moment early in his career, showcasing his dedication to his healthcare team. Quotables: “We were very proud of receiving accreditation with exemplary standing. Something that is the highest achievement that you would receive from Accreditation Canada. That allowed my staff to understand that they were exceptional healthcare workers and continue to be. Aim high and always be positive.” – FM “We as an organization have had to evolve. We’ve had to expand. We’ve had back-to-back redevelopments in our health system expanding the capacity that this community deserves.” – FM “And that is what we focus on, in addressing those challenges, with innovative projects and initiatives. Assuring that we communicate with our community. We go to them for advice when a new initiative or strategy has been put in place. We want to make sure we get the patient and caregiver perspective on how we should grow programs and what initiatives and innovations we should put in place, and whether they actually work for them.” – FM “When I go and do rounding, we call it ‘Let’s be Frank,’ or ‘Frank Conversations,’ and during these frank conversations we work around a huddle board and it’s been a huge success!” – FM “Our job is really to keep an eye on the future. Look at what healthcare will be like in 10, 20, 30 years. One area that we’re going to start to focus on is looking at how artificial intelligence becomes part of the way we deliver care in the future. Harnessing it in an effective way, both in our workflow and in the way we intersect with patients.” – FM “I think culture is what really defines and organization. We at Osler look at people as one of our foundational enablers to our strategic plan. We are to deliver patient-inspired healthcare without boundaries. To achieve that, you need to have the ‘people’ component of your organization inspired to provide the best care for both patients and families.” – FM “One mentor once told me, ‘you need to surround your yeses with a lot of no’s,’ so you need to focus on the things you know you can achieve and do them well and prioritize.” – FM “If I would give anyone advice, it’s get out of your office, out of your chair, and walk. I love walking meetings.” – FM Mentioned in this Episode: Toronto Metro Metropolitan University School of Medicine Brampton Civic Hospital Etobicoke General Hospital Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health & Wellness The College of...


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Catherine Gaulton: The Power of Human Interaction

With a new year on the horizon, Catherine is looking forward to so many things – the continued efforts in Health Human Resources, advancing the work in the main areas of Risk, the future of Collaborative Benefits, and so much more. “My optimism is around people that surprise me every day. When I think you can’t help but be defeated, human spirit and strength comes forward every time”, says Catherine when explaining her positive outlook for 2024. In this episode, Catherine gives us a glimpse into the mind of a CEO, including her zest for learning new things and how she recharges and stays inspired through even the most difficult of times. Before we let her go, a surprise guest joins us to chat and gives us a sneak peak into what family time looks like for Catherine! Quotables: “There are these juxtapositions of so much that is going on, yet there’s reason for hope because the bedrock of what we provide in our healthcare system and the people that provide it is so very strong.” - CG “I’m continually impressed by the people I work with everyday and the people that we have the true pleasure of serving in the healthcare system who are doing the work that is fundamental to the lives of so many citizens of this country.” - CG “We have a population of employees who know that when they provide feedback, they will have a response and I think that’s phenomenal.” - CG “Our strength will always be that we have brilliant and caring people who are willing to spend time with us so we learn what they’re doing, and we can take that knowledge and put it into forms that are used more generally.” - CG “Lately I’ve been focused on how there are women who are coming into leadership, how they historically have not been facilitated to have a voice, and now are so strong in our system.” - CG “If you’re feeling like you’re not accomplishing what you need to or want to, or you’re making no progress at all, give yourself the 5 minutes to walk around the block and compare where your life is today with how it was 6 months ago, and you’ll be inevitably inspired by that.” - CG “Of course there are really hard times, and we’re all at times feeling defeated, but the people I interact with, the people that provide care in our system, the people at HIROC, there’s huge optimism on all those fronts.” - CG Mentioned in this Episode: TOH’s Innovation Framework Ontario Hospital Association HIROC Safety Grants Program Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Nimira Dhalwani: Staying Connected to What’s Happening on the Ground

Stress and burnout within IT have been on the rise, which is why it’s transformative to create a sense of work life balance which leaders can help implement. Nimira believes that it’s important to check in with her team’s wellbeing and be there for each other outside of work to establish solidarity and balance. “You take care of yourself first, then you take care of others,” says Nimira when explaining the importance of prioritizing one’s health and leading by example for her team. In this episode, Nimira offers her wisdom on preventing burnout, embracing technological change within IT, the importance of sharing learnings, and staying connected with patients and their families. Quotables: “Let’s think about how to use these technologies efficiently, how do we develop guiding principles around the ethical use around these technologies, and how do we also make sure that we think about some of our inclusion principles.” -ND “Try to bring in those people we don’t normally bring to the table just to hear their voices, and sometimes they may even bring in something we never would’ve thought about.” -ND “My goal at the end of the day is if a hospital or healthcare organization is able to take away one or two steps where they can be better prepared and they’re better supported, I think we’ve done a good job.” -ND “There were incidents like the cyber incident where you need to be directive, so in that point in time I had to really step up, make some decisions, drive some decisions forward, and bring in the right people. I needed to collaborate with the right people and ask for help when needed.” -ND “The foundation of being able to support each other is grounded in the ability to understand each other.” -ND “I strongly believe this partnership and communication between IT and communication teams or public affair teams is foundational.” -ND “I actually would appreciate when my team members share with me some of the challenges of that they’re going through because that way I can help them, and we have all of our team members that can support them.” -ND Mentioned in this Episode: The Hospital for Sick Children Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Carol Couchie and Elvira Truglia: Sowing the Seeds of Healthy Relationships

Midwives play a vital role in supporting patients through their pregnancy journey, establishing strong connections with both the expectant individuals and their families as they prepare for parenthood. This close relationship uniquely positions midwives to recognize and address instances of family violence that their patients may experience. To support midwives in addressing family violence and abuse, Elvira Truglia, Knowledge Translation Lead at the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) and Carol Couchie, Indigenous Mentorship Lead at the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NCIM) have developed a comprehensive curriculum in their continuing education workshops and expert resources. Tune into this episode of Healthcare Change Makers to learn more about how their innovative project empowers both current and future midwives in providing trauma-informed care, and how they work to collaborate with their essential partners at McMaster University’s Midwifery Education Program and the NCIM. Quotables: “We try to talk about very complicated ways of looking at our society and prepare our midwives to be able to handle situations and look at the bigger picture.” – CC “Family violence can take many forms, it’s not just about physical violence, it can be psychological, emotional and even financial.” – ET “We’re hoping to sew the seeds of healthy relationships for families that are experiencing violence. With this project, we’re hoping that early intervention could mitigate the impact of family violence.” – ET “We really try to talk to the midwives and students that you’re never going to know all the answers, you’re not necessarily going to become some kind of expert on how to handle families who are experiencing violence. But what we want you to do is find out what’s out there, find out your resources, get your back up.” – CC “Trauma informed care is about welcoming and making people feel comfortable, forgiving missed appointments, asking people if they’d like a glass of water, thanking them for coming, and understanding how difficult it may have been for them to get there.” – CC “Kindness and love and patience are really what is needed for the most vulnerable in our community.” – CC “We’re hoping that through some of this work we’re creating a conversation that starts to take away the taboo of talking about violence.” – ET “As midwives we really have this beautiful opportunity to greet brand new human beings that come onto the planet and see that change happening and I want to greet those babies in a way that’s least violent as possible.” – CC Mentioned in this Episode: Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) McMaster University Midwifery Education Program National Council of Indigenous Midwives Graphic Novel: Something Is Off CAM – Family Violence Resources Community Midwives of Ottawa Association of Ontario Midwives Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Dr. Jackie Schleifer Taylor: Being True to Oneself and the Path of Authentic Leadership

For Dr. Jackie Schleifer Taylor, being a healthcare leader and change maker is more than simply being the one at the helm. In this episode, Jackie offers a deep dive into her background, her experience in healthcare, and how she takes actions to cultivate an impactful organizational culture. Underscoring the importance of authenticity in leadership, Jackie believes leaders should be genuine and true to themselves. “It takes time to develop trust and that commitment to be believed and understood,” says Jackie, emphasizing that healthcare leaders should always be creating a culture of empathy, continuous learning and excellence within their hospitals and healthcare communities. Throughout the episode, you’ll be able to hear about LHSC’s commitment to health equity and community engagement, which shines throughout the discussion. She stresses that healthcare professionals have a duty to look beyond hospital walls and consider the social determinants of health, working with community partners to make a difference. She shares personal experiences and valuable advice on the courage to speak up and be oneself in leadership, encouraging others to do the same. Her vision of leadership as an opportunity to bring kindness, community building, and purpose-driven leadership to healthcare is truly inspiring. Quotables “I was so focused when I entered healthcare. I was completely motivated by the fact that I grew up with disability in my family. My memories are always revolving around how the health system intersected with everything in our lives. I found at a very early age that something seemed not as perfect as I hope it would be, and I was motivated to see how in some small way that I could be part of the system and make it better.” – JST “When you go up in leadership, it becomes, in many ways, a lonelier space. But I learned it doesn’t have to be if you’re the same and create more overt ways and demonstrate you want to be the same person, people just come into that.” – JST “I’ve doubled down on creating the space of accessibility to me, so that I can create that opportunity to continue to learn myself.” – JST “My philosophy, personally, is that as many decision that can be made locally by those who would know, ought to be support to be made locally.” – JST “What do we have to do differently now to not only keep people on the path to leadership, but also seek out and encourage people in their interest they might not even know.” – JST “It takes time to develop trust and that commitment to believed and understood.” – JST “I would say HIROC is the catalyst for excellence across the system. We don’t take the support lightly. We feel as though it’s a partnership with HIROC in all candor. It’s the conversations and the materials and relationships that you develop with hospitals, every one that I’ve worked in throughout my career, it’s been the same and it’s so incredibly important that it’s two way.” – JST “I don’t think anyone reaches any level of success without a circle of people who just lift them up in every way.” – JST “Culture is created a person at a time. It starts at the very top with the board, CEO, and leadership team, being the culture that they want to exist.” – JST “I spend time with my family and friends. That energizes me. I would say I don’t get enough time with my husband, adult children, and my friends. So, when I’m with them, I’m very present. I work hard, but also love hard, play hard any time I’m with my family or friends.” – JST Mentioned in this Episode: London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Sonia Hsiung and Natasha Beaudin: How Connection and Belonging Can Change the Culture of Our Health System

When HIROC put a call out at the 2023 Alliance for Healthier Communities Conference for changemakers, the community delivered. We heard about some amazing healthcare changemakers across the province of Ontario – people like Sonia Hsiung and Natasha Beaudin, and the social prescribing initiative they have been involved in. Sonia is with the Canadian Institute for Social Prescribing and the Canadian Red Cross, and Natasha works with the Alliance for Healthier Communities. On this latest episode, Philip De Souza sits down with Sonia and Natasha to talk about how the social prescribing pilot started with just 11 sites working in collaboration with providers and clients. They share the ripple effect the initiative has had in community health across Ontario, Canada and internationally – how work like this is changing the culture of our health system towards connection and belonging. Quotables “I saw how it improved our model in so many ways. So, it helped us really integrate our work. Helped make those connections between the clinical side of things and our health promotion side.” – NB “It really was work that was already happening in community health centres and other Alliance members. And it was more around building a bit more of that intentionality, the structure pathway, the measurements, within our system.” – SH “There was just so much creativity within each centre as well, where the teams ended up supporting each other.” – SH “I think part of how this work has been so successful is because everyone sees themselves in the pathway, everyone sees themselves as a contributor…” – NB “That ability to track outcomes were just powerful. We saw an overall decrease in people’s sense of loneliness by 49%, and that is huge – that was over just a nine-month period.” – SH “And what was really important, as an outcome of this pathway, is that people said they felt that they were seen and heard as whole persons, even when they were in their clinical appointments. And that made such a shift in people’s sense of self-confidence, their sense of purpose, their sense of ‘yes I can manage my own health’.” – SH Mentioned in this Episode: Alliance for Healthier Communities Canadian Red Cross Centretown Community Health Centre Cormac Russell: The Connected Community National Health Service Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario Public Health Agency of Canada Rexdale Community Health Centre Social Prescribing Network The Ontario Caregiver Organization 211 Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Kevin Smith: People Want the Context of ‘Why’

Today’s guest is President and CEO of University Health Network, Canada’s largest academic health sciences centre. Kevin Smith pursued his education in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain, studying psychology, science, public policy and medicine. If Kevin’s had a frustrating day, one of his best experiences is talking to young people who are enthusiastic and filled with hope. He says the system is in good hands with the generation in training today. Open forums and site visits are a regular part of Kevin’s life at UHN, and he sees the challenging questions he gets as a sign of a healthy culture. In fact, when he feels the news is too positive, he’ll precipitate a tougher conversation, asking people to tell him what they are scared of, and what’s not going as well as it should. Quotables “I actually think this is the challenge of our generation in healthcare – adequate health human resources with appropriate quality of work life not only in Toronto or Ontario but around the world.” – KS “Our workforce should look like those we serve.” – KS “We’re looking at what can we do to support nurses who are early in their career trajectory. A large portion of that is making additional investments in mentorship.” – KS “We are seeing students now with a massive social conscience who are much more aware of population health and well-being.” – KS “We have really embraced the model that says integrated care is about invisible points of transition, both for patients but also for providers.” – KS “We have a responsibility to help our political and policy makers better understand that research is the lifeblood of the future economy, it is the lifeblood of building a civil society, and at the moment we are falling behind.” – KS “I see people embracing that AI working with humans can dramatically improve the healthcare and science experience and result.” – KS “The question now is how will we balance the needs of our patients and not make those people who provide that care ill from overwork.” – KS “We all have something to learn, we all have something to teach, but nobody has all the answers.” - KS Mentioned in this episode: University Hospital Network The Michener Institute for education at UHN Inspire: UHN Nursing Strategy 2023-2028 Rotman School of Management DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster Canadian Institute for Health Information Mayo Clinic Platform_Connect The Match King by Frank Partnoy


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Dr. Glaucomflecken: The Importance of Sharing a Laugh

Dr. Glaucomflecken has a unique backstory as he made the pivot from performing stand-up comedy to becoming a physician. TikTok is now his stage with over 2 million followers, creating comedic skits about the healthcare world. Besides comedy, he also uses his platform to spread awareness about his sudden cardiac arrest in 2020 and his diagnosis with testicular cancer. On this episode, Dr. Glaucomflecken explains his introduction to content creation, the evolving idea of professionalism in the medical field, keeping a positive mindset, and more. Quotables: “I love making people laugh and exploring that creativity… it’s so different than what you do in medicine a lot of the time.” “I’m able to learn a lot about the healthcare system by trying to put together these skits and relate to my patients better from a different perspective.” “Doctors are regular people going through regular things, we have senses of humour and like to laugh and cry.” “It’s really a wonderful that this idea of professionalism is changing to allow everyone in medicine to express themselves more because we need the public to see that side of us.” “I started doing content creation because it was a way for me to take those difficult things in my life and add humour to them, present it to others and share a laugh.” “I think more in the moment, which has helped me maintain positivity.” Mentioned in this Episode: Knock Knock, Hi! with the Glaucomfleckens Dr.Glaucomfleken’s TikTok Dr. Amy G Dala Dr. Bryan Carmody Mama Doctor Jones (Dr. Danielle Jones) Dr. Emily Silverman Medlife Crisis (Dr. Rohin Francis) Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Dr. James Maskalyk: Making the Emergency Department Healthier for Everybody

Burnout is a prominent issue for healthcare workers and a topic Dr. James Maskalyk is passionate about. This led to the creation of a wellness program at St. Michael’s Hospital and later across 15 hospitals in the GTA through the University of Toronto. The program promotes facets such as peer support for providers, critical incident debriefing, and more. On the episode, Dr. Maskalyk also touches on small yet important steps that can be taken to boost overall mood in the emergency department, such as mindfulness practices, and snacks. Quotables: “…medicine is not something that just happens in the emergency room, but something that very much follows us home as practitioners and patients.” “It really is just about beginning the conversation that doctors are people too, and nurses are people too, and the people who are there who support us as porters, the people who cook the food, we are human beings working in an increasingly inhumane system – to be honest.” “There is an opportunity for us to speak to each other about what’s happening inside of us that could be more clear, because vulnerability is not a skill that we learn in medical school, or I never did.” “You standing there, beside these people, doing the best you can, is one of the most beautiful acts ever completed by a human being.” “Life ultimately is a temporary situation. So, then the question becomes, what do you do with what you’ve been given… it sounds trite but the answer is just be kind, to yourself and other people.” “It’s an honour to be here and to have the trust of my patients and my colleagues, who are in the ER this very moment helping people.” Mentioned in this Episode: St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health University of Toronto Dr. Sara Gray Dr James Orbinski Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Denise Lalanne and Carrie Ricker: A Small Change Can Make a Huge Difference

Denise Lalanne is the Director, Digital and Client Services at IWK Health Centre, where she focuses on delivering the best care through leading strategic and operational plans. Carrie Ricker supports IWK Health Centre’s Innovation and Research departments acting as legal counsel. Her passion lies in encouraging innovation through strategic business and legal advice. Denise and Carrie joined forces for the Chez Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Home initiative where their mutual passion for innovation and providing high-quality care was amplified. Using technology, this initiative will provide NICU families with the education and tools needed to be fully engaged in the care of their baby. In this episode, Denise and Carrie touch on how the Chez NICU Home initiative came to be and how it’s improving care at the IWK Health Centre. Quotables “We wanted to focus on the families and creating an environment that made them as comfortable and engaged as possible.” – CR “Having that ability to phone in and find out how their baby is doing and participate in rounds is really helpful and really makes parents feel like they’re part of the process.” -DL “At the IWK, how we approach it is really focused on promoting care for patients as well as the experience for the families that we serve.” – CR “A small change in practice can actually have a huge difference from a patient and family perspective.” -DL “It’s never easy but when it gets there and you see a mom saying how wonderful it was to be able to learn something or be able to see her baby today, it’s makes it all worthwhile.” – DL “The reality is innovation brings with it some risks, change is risky, and everything we do in healthcare has some risks associated.” – CR Mentioned in this Episode: IWK Health Centre Cisco Canada Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Adam Topp: Transformation and Service as Anchors to Success

System change is a big topic across healthcare in Canada right now. HIROC’s Catherine Gaulton sits down with Adam Topp to learn about the transition undertaken by Shared Health Manitoba, and the importance of engagement at every step along the way. Adam also touches on his organization’s approach to the current HHR crisis – having good practices in talent management, retention, and embedding a people leader in senior management. Stick around until the end to hear about Adam’s past life as a DJ – we promise it’s worth it. Quotables: “A laser focus on doing one thing at a time, I think is probably the best approach to transformation and to leadership that I’ve come across.” – AT “What we tried to do is learn from the benefits we’ve seen from the other provinces… take the best of those and put them in a system that is patient centred.” – AT “The goal was not to reduce the autonomy of the regional health authorities; it was really to facilitate so that they could focus their efforts on operations.” – AT “We need to listen well; we need to serve well.” – AT “It does continue to amaze me when I see significant health organizations who don’t have a leader of people… someone on the senior executive team who is responsible for people management. That’s a regular deficit in organizational structures of our healthcare system.” – AT “I think it’s really important that HIROC continue its work towards improving the quality of our healthcare system.” – AT Mentioned in this episode: 2023 AGM and HIROC Conference (April 24, Toronto and Virtual) CancerCare Manitoba Hay Group Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg IWK Health Centre moreOB Nova Scotia Health Authority Salus Global Shared Health Manitoba Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre


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Sarah Downey: A Time of Excitement and Challenge in Mental Health

Today’s guest has a special place in the HIROC archives. Sarah Downey was our first guest on Healthcare Change Makers when we turned on the mike in 2018. The years that followed that fun interview have been busy for Sarah. For 7 and a half years she was the CEO of Michael Garron Hospital where she shepherded the hospital through a major redevelopment project that included the newly opened Thomson Centre. Six months ago, Sarah made the decision to move into the President and CEO position at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, better known as CAMH. Leaving Michael Garron and the East York community was tough, but the pull to the mission of CAMH was stronger. Sarah believes mental health is the most important health issue of our lifetime. It’s a new place and a new culture to learn about, but Sarah always comes back to the importance of being human and being vulnerable in a leadership role. Where talking to people in the coffee line-up is one of the most important things you can do as a CEO. Quotables “You forget until you have to make those transitions how emotional they are.” – SD ”It’s thrilling to see these latest two buildings. The spaces are bright and airy. They’re respectful, and focused on recovery, healing and dignified care.” – SD “It’s not just a one in five who will get mental illness in their lifetime. It’s in everybody’s family. It’s in all your social circles, in all your employees. It’s everywhere.” – SD “I had forgotten until I came back how many people call to get advice on how to navigate the system.” – SD “Who’s more important for us to invest in than our young people? They are our future and we need them to be healthier and more resilient.” “You need to regularly connect with people, use a bit of humour. They want to know that their leader is real.” – SD “It’s become even more important the last few years to find a break and a space, but what an opportunity to learn.” - SD “I hold my dad’s lessons in my heart every day and try to act in a way that would always do him proud.” – SD “We should tell people every day in the moment how much they mean to us and how they’re helping us change our lives.” – PDS Mentioned in this episode: Michael Garron Hospital CAMH: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health The history of the Toronto Lunatic Asylum Dr. Hilda Tremblett Princess Margaret Cancer Centre - UHN Dr. J. Downey, Past President, University of Waterloo (1993-1999)


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Dr. Katharine Smart: Providing Healthcare is About Building Relationships

Our guest Dr. Katharine Smart does it all - she’s a pediatrician working in Whitehorse, former Canadian Medical Association (CMA) president, the podcast host for Spark: Conversations, and holds a strong platform on social media. Through all her roles, her focus remains steady on advocating for kids’ health across Canada, holding the unwavering belief that all kids deserve the same opportunity to be healthy. Quotables “I think kids all deserve the same opportunity to be healthy.” – KS “I really believe that providing healthcare is about building relationships.” – KS “I really believe that the right solutions have to benefit patients and providers.” – KS “I think having and maintaining the trust of the public right now is so critical as we continue to battle misinformation broadly, not only about science, but about many things.” – KS “I'm feel grateful to be in the healthcare space right now because even though it's really challenging, I think there's a lot of opportunity for us to really be reconsidering how we can rebuild our healthcare system in a way that's going to be sustainable and really provide high-quality care for Canadians.” – KS “I think being around the right people and having gratitude for the privilege of the work we do are things that really help keep the focus on the right things.” – KS Mentioned in this Episode: BC Children’s Hospital Canadian Medical Association Children’s Healthcare Canada Government of Yukon HIROC Spark: Conversations Podcast Women Executive Network Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Catherine Gaulton: Absolute Optimism for the Year Ahead

Marking Healthcare Change Maker’s 50th episode, we’re in the mood to celebrate. HIROC CEO Catherine Gaulton and Director of Communications and Marketing, Philip De Souza jump right in celebrating the podcast, and HIROC’s 35th anniversary. Team HIROC is also celebrating a brand-new strategic plan, launching in 2023. Catherine previews what Subscribers can expect to see as a focus – topics like HHR and board education. Also on the horizon, HIROC and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) are collaborating on the launch of a brand-new start-up – Collaborative Benefits, simply known as Co. The two partners came together to determine the viability and approach for a universal provincial employee benefits strategy – co-designed by healthcare, for healthcare. With so many new initiatives coming in 2023, Catherine is also cognizant of self-care – that of her staff and everyone working in the healthcare system, including leaders. Before we let her go, Philip asks Catherine what gives her joy. Hearing her family play music, and seeing little kids pop up on Zoom meetings are just a few of the things that make her laugh and smile. Quotables “The stories that say, you allowed us to take care of people, they make me not just smile… they make me grin every day.” – CG “If it keeps our Subscribers up, it keeps me up.” – CG “We need everybody working in this system – and that includes leaders.” – CG “The compassion and strength of our leaders in the system is absolutely integral to how it is we deliver on what we need to for patients.” – CG “Subscribers will see a focus on more direct supports, on actioning patient safety, and looking at the science of implementation of patient safety.” – CG “Our work of course is to do what we can for not-for-profit entities that are delivering on healthcare in this country.” – CG “That’s true innovation – 35 years later, a company that’s still innovating, still thinking outside the box.” – PD “It’s very clear that you do what you love.” – PD Mentioned in this Episode: HIROC The Ontario Hospital Association Collaborative Benefits – Co (coming soon) HIROC Top GTA Employer for 2023 2022 HIROC Hackathon 2023 HIROC Strategic Plan (coming soon) The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your favourite podcasts. Email us at


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Doran Walker and David B. Kay: Developing their own Playbook for a Strong Mentoring Relationship

Our guests David Kay and Doran Walker have had a mentor/mentee relationship since 2018. Doran is an RN with an MBA, owner and Healthcare Consultant for BioMD consulting and a Patient Care Manager for Specialized Geriatrics, Glenrose for Alberta Health Services. He’s also the National Cochair for Emerging Health Leaders Canada. The fact that they came together well before the pandemic Doran says is fortuitous, since he had someone to turn to when his professional life became more challenging, and he became a new father. David runs his own healthcare and professional regulatory management consultancy. He says much of what he learned about being a good mentor comes from having strong mentors in the early stages of his career. One of those was a CEO of a large teaching hospital who shared his insights with David on long drives around Saskatchewan. This CEO would call fellow CEOs after hours to have open and casual conversations, something that imprinted on David the value of compassionate leadership. David and Doran talked to us about what they’ve learned from each other, what defines a good mentoring relationship, and the fact that we all probably have more mentors than we realize. Quotables “This was really another opportunity to give back to the next generation and to the profession” – DK “I believe goal-setting is important for all of us – both personal goals and professional goal setting. It helps provide some focus.” – DK “In some of those circumstances that we discussed I hadn’t lived it, but I could draw on something that might have been a little similar or at least this is how people might be feeling about what they’re hearing and ‘the why’. What do we do about the why, what’s the what and the how.” – DK “Because of the mentorship relationship and our discussion on goals and values, what changed for me was a deeper understanding of who I was and what I needed to value. For that I’m grateful.” – DW “There’s usually four or five different people who have mentorship within our lives in different ways. I think that’s going to be the next way forward for mentorship research and literature.” DW “I like to call it a kitchen cabinet. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career of having a network of people around me whose opinions I trusted and who could be honest with me.” – DK “Mentorship is probably the most direct way that knowledge can be passed on. It also has the added benefit of providing wellness to emerging leaders. Because when they come to stressful situations, they already have someone formally they can talk to about it.” – DW Mentioned in this Episode: Emerging Health Leaders Canada Canadian College of Health Leaders American College of Healthcare Executives Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on iTunes. Email us at


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CJ Blennerhassett: Growing Midwifery in an Area Where it’s Really Needed

Our guest CJ Blennerhassett, began her career as a midwife in a busy Toronto practice. She has since moved back to her home province of Nova Scotia where there are just 16 midwives who deliver reproductive care in an area that has both urban and large rural pockets. CJ is still a practicing midwife but now combines her duties with her role as Vice President of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives and President-elect of the Canadian Association of Midwives. In those roles, CJ is honoured that her midwifery colleagues trust her to push health authorities, government, and decision-makers to think about creative solutions to the primary care crisis in Nova Scotia and across the country. So many people in her province are without care, she says, while midwives are here and willing and excited about delivering that care. Quotables “When the opportunity presented itself to be back here in Nova Scotia, I really jumped at that – to be closer to family but also to participate in growing the profession in an area where it’s really needed.” – CJB “Unfortunately, in Nova Scotia we turn away as many people as we take in to midwifery care. We’re only able to care for 50% of people who request midwifery care.” – CJB “British Columbia has a model where they try their best to ensure the right care provider for the right patient at the right time.” – CJB “I think about leadership as being somebody who is speaking on behalf of the will of the group.” – CJB “We really want to see Indigenous midwives working in all Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia not only to bring birth and care to people in their home communities but to improve birth outcomes for those communities.” – CJB “We offer a kind of care that is really unparalleled in this country and that’s something to be supported and celebrated.” – CJB “One thing I have always felt strongly about in terms of midwifery care and ways it can benefit the healthcare system in lots of other areas is this focus on informed choice.” – CJB “I’m really inspired by people who blend creativity with policy work.” – CJB Mentioned in this Episode: Association of Nova Scotia Midwives CAM knovember 2022 Canadian Association of Midwives Kensington Midwives Jessica MacDonald National Aboriginal Council of Midwives Alisha Julien Reid, Mi’kmaq Midwife Canadian Alliance of Racialized Midwives Jennie Joseph Stacey Abrams Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on iTunes. Email us at


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Brian Goldman: Leaning into Uncertainty

Our guest Brian Goldman is a longtime staff physician at Sinai Health System, and a podcaster – host of White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio One and the CBC podcast The Dose. He’s also the author of three books. Many people who read his most recent book The Power of Teamwork have an ah-ha moment when they realize that they’re not actually working on a team but a group. As Brian explains, many teams flounder because the members of that team are more focussed on individual goals than team goals, they haven’t had much input in setting those goals, and they don’t help one another. Whether it’s in healthcare, the military, aviation or a corporate environment, for real team problem-solving to happen, Brian says everybody must feel safe to say what they see. That means breaking down longstanding hierarchies, taking chances and leaning into uncertainty. Quotables “Everybody talks fast. Everybody wants to cut to the bottom line, get to the answer quickly. And that is death to a team meeting.” - BG “We hate uncertainty so much that we prematurely close conversations.” – BG “To me the Rosetta Stone was meeting Alexa Miller at dotmd 2019 and eventually forging a friendship with her. I think the world of her and think Visual Thinking Strategies really deserves a stronger public airing.” – BG “You have to know their superpower because you have to position them to function on a team that brings out the best in them, that doesn’t keep asking them to do what they’re not best at.” – BG “You know you’re in a silo if you tend to see the world as insiders and outsiders.” – BG “The highest compliment people tell me is that they feel I’ve taken them into the world of medicine, to my side of the gurney, and they understand more than they did before.” – BG “I firmly believe that medicine has become so complex there is no ‘I alone’ anymore. We can’t understand everything, know everything. I’ve discovered that I work better in an environment where I can be prompted.” – BG “Cross-over wisdom is something we practice a lot at HIROC and we do it on our team, speaking to people outside our sector – we learn a lot from looking at things from a new lens.” - PDS Mentioned in this Episode: Sinai Health System White Coat Black Art The Dose Alexa Miller - Visual Thinking Strategies Dr. Joel Thorp Katz Emily Mathieu Erin Byrnes Dotmd – A Festival of Medical Curiosity Dr. Trevor Jain The Spy Who Knew Too Much by Howard Blum The Ezra Klein Show Dr. Teodor Grantcharov - The OR Black Box David N. Titcher Save the Date – the 2022 HIROC Conference Access More Interviews with Healthcare Leaders at Follow us on Twitter, and listen on iTunes. Email us at