I am the I in IWK – Theresa Rogers, Coordinator, Patient Experience Office 

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As an organization that’s built on people-centred care, one job, in particular, is dedicated to listening to patients and families to make sure their voices are being heard. Theresa Rogers is a coordinator in the Patient Experience Office, within the Quality, Patient Safety and Patient Experience area and has been listening to the feedback of patients and families for over 9 years. 

Rogers began working at the IWK just over 40 years ago, beginning in Health Records, and landing in the Change Management office before taking on her current area of Patient Experience. “Although I’ve never been involved directly with patient care, as a coordinator in the Patient Experience Office I have the privilege and the luxury of being able to speak with our patients and their families directly,” says Rogers. 

“A lot of times when patients and families have a concern they just want to be heard. When they call us, just being able to be that person who listens to their concern is rewarding. As difficult as some situations may be to hear, we often get told by families that just being able to tell someone is helpful for them.”  

When a patient or family contacts Patient Feedback, Rogers listens to their feedback and investigates it further if need be. A large part of her work is getting the feedback into the right hands so that meaningful help, answers, or change can happen. On top of this, Rogers also oversees the Patient and Family Leadership Council, facilitating patient/family engagement, recruiting members and coordinating meetings. Most recently, Rogers also runs the newly developed COVID-19 patient hotline.   

During the first wave of the pandemic, Rogers and her colleague saw a great uptick in calls when new restrictions were set in place by the government and the health centre. “We received a lot of calls regarding support people, particularly from pregnant patients receiving ultrasounds and pregnant women with Doulas having to choose between their Doula or their partner during delivery.” After this first wave in Nova Scotia, a Patient and Family COVID-19 Feedback Survey was conducted that gathered family’s thoughts on what IWK Health could be doing better in the future.   

“Out of that survey, and through feedback, it was apparent people wanted a number that they could call and speak to a person.” Rogers stepped up to the plate and played an integral part in advocating for the new service. She knew the hotline would be perfectly suited for the Patient Experience team because they are “like detectives” in the health centre and were already skilled at tracking down answers from any area that a patient would be inquiring about.   

Rogers cites that everyone from directors to door screeners have been willing to share their resources and provide assistance needed to get the hotline up and running and on December 16, the COVID-9 hotline went live.  

“We’ve received lots of calls, a lot of them are about the support person restrictions and testing,” says Rogers. “I think this is a huge value add for our families. Almost every call I receive they tell me that it’s been so helpful just to speak to a real person. I think just hearing a voice instead of an answering machine is reliving to people.”   

“The hotline has kind of lit the fire in my belly again and I really quite love it. It’s always nice when you get to try something new, and when I can help people immediately, it’s so satisfying.”   

Since the hotline began, Rogers has received about 80 calls with notable increases when major changes, such as border restrictions and new public health measures, are announced.  

With the increase of information coming out around COVID-19 measures, Rogers has also coordinated the feedback and input of the Family Leadership Council into many of the health centre’s pandemic responses. This included coordinating patient and family participation on the Virtual Strategy Committee, information communicated on the IWK Health website, creating feedback survey questions, and more, all while coordinating the council meetings virtually.  

“The IWK has been so supportive of patient and family involvement,” says Rogers. “The entire health centre is tuned into listening to our patients and families and having them co-create everything we do. When you have support from every level it makes my job kind of easy.”