17 January 2024

VANCOUVER – People throughout British Columbia have safer, better quality health care thanks to the work of this year’s BC Quality Award winners and runners up, presented by Health Quality BC (HQBC).   

The BC Quality Awards are an annual celebration of people and projects that improve the quality of care in British Columbia. 

“I’m amazed by the innovative work people are doing every day to make health care better in BC,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The Quality Awards are a chance for us all to learn about the people and projects that are making a difference and to celebrate their successes. On behalf of the Province, I congratulate all the winners and runners up of HQBC’s Quality Awards, and I thank them for their unwavering commitment to elevate the quality of care for all British Columbians.”  

The five Excellence in Quality project winners and the winner of the newly created Leadership in Co-Creating Health with Communities award are invited to present their project at the Quality Forum, HQBC’s annual conference that brings together BC’s health care community to share and discuss how to improve quality across the continuum of care. Winners are also awarded a $2,500 sponsorship to help support and disseminate learning from their projects or to support ongoing learning and development.  

“Year after year, I’m inspired by the dedication reflected in the nominations we receive for the Quality Awards,” said Christina Krause, CEO, Health Quality BC. “This year was no different, and I urge communities throughout BC to join us in celebrating the remarkable people and projects that are improving the quality of care in BC. My heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and runners up – BC is lucky to have you!” 

For the last 16 years, HQBC has delivered the latest knowledge from home and abroad to champion and support high-quality care for every person in BC. This system-wide impact requires creativity, innovative thinking, and evidence-informed strategies to shift culture, improve clinical practice and accelerate health care partners’ improvement efforts.  

“Being part of Health Quality BC brings me immense joy and pride,” expressed Devin Harris, Chair, HQBC. “One of the most rewarding aspects is the opportunity to connect with exceptional people like those honoured through the BC Quality Awards. The people recognized through these awards have an extraordinary influence; they profoundly impact lives and serve as inspirations.  Congratulations to all the winners and runners up!”  

HQBC is uniquely positioned to build strong partnerships with patients and communities, care providers, health leaders, policymakers, senior executives, academics and others. These connections enable HQBC to nurture networks, recognize the needs of BC’s health care system and build capacity where it is needed the most. HQBC provides advice and makes recommendations to the health system, including the Minister of Health, on matters related to quality of care across the province. 

BC Quality Award Winners and Runners Up 

Excellence in Quality: Optimizing the Early Years 

Winner: Streamlined Assessment Program – Advancing Early Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder 

BC Children’s Hospital, Provincial Health Services Authority  

The British Columbia Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) launched a new strategy aimed at achieving earlier diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Streamlined Assessment Program (SAP) is now leading to better quality care for affected children in BC by addressing a growing need for timelier assessments, particularly among minimally verbal children aged less than 43 months, whose symptoms clearly indicated concerns related to ASD. This is significant, because the earlier the ASD diagnosis, the earlier the access to interventions – which leads to better health outcomes for affected children. 

Runner up: Newborn Screening BC Program, through Provincial Laboratory Medicine Services (PLMS) and Perinatal Services BC (PSBC) 

Provincial Health Services Authority 

PLMS and PSBC worked together to implement new newborn screening protocols for three additional treatable conditions under accelerated timelines and an expanded testing program. 

Since newborn screening for the new conditions went live, 16 infants have been identified and received a clinical intervention because of these additional screening tests. Without this expanded testing, detection of these diseases would not have occurred until much later when these children became symptomatic, often past the window for effective therapy and treatment. 

Excellence in Quality: Strengthening Health & Wellness 

Winner: Northern Health Lab Outpatient Improvement Project 

Northern Health  

Northern Health (NH) launched the Lab Outpatient Improvement Project (LOIP) to address long wait times to access outpatient lab services in Northern BC. Through LOIP, they began offering a blended service model of scheduled and unscheduled lab appointments. Through this model, patients could self-schedule either online using the HealthElife portal or by phone. Patients can also drop-in and avoid long line-ups using NH Check-In for queueing, and they have the flexibility to bring in a requisition or have it sent straight to the lab. In making these changes over a two-year timespan, they completely transformed and modernized lab services across 26 sites.   

Runner Up: Frail Elderly-Older Adult Network 

Fraser Health   

Fraser Health’s Frail Elderly-Older Adult Network recognized a proactive, community-based change was required to meet the needs of the aging population. They partnered with care providers, patient partners, their families and the community to develop and roll out the Regional Delirium Strategy. By June 2022, a pilot was rolled out across all 12 medicine units in Surrey Memorial Hospital and has since evolved into what is now known as the Regional Delirium Strategy for Fraser Health. This is now being replicated at Peace Arch, Delta, Burnaby, Langley and Eagle Ridge hospitals and sustained locally.  

Excellence in Quality: Returning to Health & Wellness 

Winner: Reducing Wait Times for BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) Lines 

BC Children’s Hospital, Provincial Health Services Authority 

Children who are cared for at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) are able to receive timely treatment closer to home – and in some cases, at home itself – thanks to the innovative work of BCCH’s POKe and PIVOT team. 

The POKe (PICC Opportunities for Kids) and PIVOT (Pediatric IV Outpatient Therapy) team is a combined interdisciplinary team at BCCH, formed to both reduce the waiting time for PICC (peripherally inserted central catheters) insertions for IV therapy and increase access to outpatient services. 

Runner Up: Radioactive Seeds for Breast Cancer Surgery 

Fraser Health  

An improvement initiative to find alternative solutions for localizing breast cancers and breast lesions in need of surgical removal has led to the use of a new technique that has not only increased patient safety and satisfaction but has also resulted in time and cost savings at Fraser Health. 

Michelle Goecke, a breast surgeon at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, introduced the use of radioactive seeds. The seeds, which are no larger than a grain of rice, are used as an alternative to fine wire localization, which could dislodge and was uncomfortable for patients. The seed technology was so successful that it is now becoming the standard across Fraser Health hospitals where breast cancer surgery is performed. 

Excellence in Quality: Living with Illness or Disability 

Winner: RISE Community Health Centre, part of Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH)

RISE Community Health Centre (CHC) in Vancouver is a primary care clinic offering services akin to family doctors and nurse practitioners. But what they offer is much more – and is grounded in a commitment to improve the health and well-being of people with chronic illness and disability. RISE (Resilient, Integrative, Socially Just and Equitable) offers team-based care to local residents with supports available for medical and social needs.  

What sets RISE CHC apart is its focus on holistic health care, covering physical, social, and emotional well-being. In addition to general health concerns, they address the social determinants of health, mild to moderate mental health conditions, addictions, and the coordination of specialized care. Beyond the clinic, RISE extends services to the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood, providing health promotion, harm reduction, and pharmacy services. 

Runner Up: Parkinson Wellness Projects 

Parkinson Wellness Projects (PWP), located in Victoria, is working to change the quality of life for people living with Parkinson Disease. The non-profit organization is the only one of its kind on Vancouver Island. To date, it has helped more than 600 participants throughout their journey with Parkinson Disease and continues to innovate by creating new programs to address patient and caregiver needs and challenges. 

Excellence in Quality: Coping with Transition from Life 

Winner: Cognitive Stimulation Therapy in Comox Valley 

Island Health 

What began as an initiative by two occupational therapists who had a passion for person-centred, evidence-based care has become a program that has improved quality of life for people living with mild-moderate dementia in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley. 

The Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) initiative delivers evidence-based, non-pharmacologic interventions for mild-moderate dementia to patients and their informal caregivers in the Comox Valley. For both program participants and caregivers, the program is helping to create connection and support so that no one feels they are facing a diagnosis of dementia, or the care of their loved one, on their own. 

Runner Up: Northern Health Palliative Care Consultation Team 

Northern Health  

The Northern Health Palliative Care Consultation Team supports people in both palliative and end-of-life care. The team aims to make palliative care more consistent, accessible, and equitable, filling gaps that previously existed. They value community-based care and, by engaging with primary care providers, their efforts prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. Northern Health’s innovative approach, rooted in collaboration and quality, has set a pioneering standard, prompting other health authorities to follow suit. The team’s extensive partnerships and outreach to diverse communities, including First Nations and rural areas, underscore their commitment to enhancing palliative care accessibility and support across the region.  

Leadership in Co-Creating Health with Communities  

Winner: Shifting Advocacy to Action: Co-Creating Care with Clearwater 

Interior Health 

In 2022, Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater found itself facing the same severe staff shortages endemic across the health care system. The Interior Health (IH) operational team, with support from Communications and Engagement, recognized that a solution lay not just in updating the staffing model, but by engaging broadly with the small community of just over 2,300. 

Interior Health worked closely with organizational partners to understand the community needs and offer short-term solutions. This includes increased paramedic coverage while the emergency department was experiencing closures; housing solutions for health care staff and new models of nursing rotations. As well, Clearwater now has 4.5 full-time equivalent doctors, just short of the five it needs. 

Runner Up  

Patient Care Quality Office at Interior Health 

Interior Health  

The In Plain Sight Report recommended making the complaint process more culturally safe and accessible for Indigenous Peoples.  

To build on the work already underway to make the health care system safer for Indigenous Peoples, Interior Health (IH) hired two Indigenous Patient Care Quality & Safety Consultants as part of the IH Patient Care Quality Office (PCQO). With support from the IH Indigenous Partnerships team and the First Nations Health Authority, the Indigenous consultants began ongoing engagement with the Dãkelh Dené, Ktunaxa, Nlaka’pamux, Secwépemc, St’át’imc, Syilx, and Tŝilhqot’in Nations in the Interior region. Additional engagement with urban/away-from-home Indigenous Peoples as well as Métis communities is ongoing.  

The purpose of the engagement is to build awareness of the PCQO and to invite collaboration and input into the design of the IH Indigenous PCQO process. It is through the co-design process that the program evolved to include a restorative approach to healing from harm. 

Doug Cochrane Leadership in Quality Award 

Winner: Kris Gustavson 

Provincial Health Services Authority 

Kris Gustavson is well known in health care circles for her compassion and commitment, and for sharing her wisdom. As the Corporate Director of Accreditation and Patient Experience for the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), she is respected, trusted and admired for her ability to engage at all levels, and for creating an environment that fosters learning and improving.  

With Kris’ support, PHSA has achieved many Health Standards Organization (HSO) Leading Practice award designations. As a surveyor with Accreditation Canada since 2004, Kris has contributed to health quality improvement on six continents. She is currently leading efforts with PHSA’s Indigenous Health, Quality, Safety and Professional Practice related to the HSO BC Cultural Safety and Humility Standard to increase awareness and uptake to eradicate Indigenous-specific racism. 

Runner Up: Cynthia Johansen 

Cynthia is the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), the regulator for the province’s 67,000 nurses and midwives. She was instrumental in bringing the province’s nursing colleges together as a single regulator for all nursing designations in 2018, and then a further amalgamation in 2020 with the provincial midwifery regulator. Now known as the BCCNM, it is the largest regulator in Western Canada.  

Cynthia was also instrumental in founding the BC Health Regulators Society, for streamlining the registration and application process for Internationally Educated Nurses, strengthening nursing standards, and for her passion to dismantle anti-Indigenous racism and redress historical harms, to make BC’s health care system culturally safe for Indigenous Peoples. 

Everyday Champion 

Winner: Shannon Paul-Jost  

Interior Health  

There are few people in British Columbia who are as passionate about seniors and their care as Shannon Paul-Jost. Through a long career in nursing and a desire to make her own community better, Shannon is an Everyday Champion for older adults. She has years of experience working with seniors and is deeply knowledgeable about this population, their challenges, needs and the barriers they encounter. 

Her experience has served her well as a Clinical Nurse Specialist on the Long-term Care Services team for Interior Health (IH). This team of 24 employees is part of a larger team for Seniors Specialized Care Transformation, which is responsible for setting the strategic direction for seniors across all sectors within IH. 

Runner Up: John Hwang 

Fraser Health  

John Hwang’s impact at Fraser Health extends much further than the operating rooms at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. The general surgeon is a long-time champion of quality improvement (QI), and he’s become an inspiration for both leaders and frontline staff to make QI a part of their everyday work. 

He implemented an innovative multidisciplinary wound care model at Fraser Health’s Complex Wound Centre, leading to a 60% reduction in chronic wound healing time for high-risk patients, and helping avoid a cost of $47,500 per patient, established a new regional wound care advisory committee, and introduced monthly regional multidisciplinary complex wound rounds. John has also assumed leadership roles to enhance quality in surgery and is the visionary behind the Annual RCH QI Day, which brings together patients, frontline staff, and health authority leaders to showcase site QI projects, foster knowledge sharing, and collaboratively build a culture of continuous improvement. John has taught QI to hundreds of frontline staff and physicians, has mentored numerous providers in their QI endeavours, and coached a myriad of improvement projects. 

Leadership in Advancing the Patient Voice 

Winner: Laurie Edmundson 

Patient Voice  

Laurie Edmundson has worked tirelessly to advance the patient voice to help improve health care services, both across BC and internationally. Because of her ability to vulnerably share her own story about navigating borderline personality disorder and other mental health challenges, she has inspired others and helped shape the way services are delivered.  

Laurie was the first youth with lived experience to lead a local action team (LAT) for the Surrey/North Delta Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, funded by the Doctors of BC and the provincial government. 

Runner Up: Vivian Tsang 

Patient Voice 

Vivian Tsang began her journey in health care as a soft-spoken 16-year-old, participating as a patient partner in a research study at BC Children’s Hospital. A decade later, and now a physician, she’s making her voice heard as an advocate for youth advisory voices in research. 

Vivian first became involved in advancing the voice of patients in 2012 as a study participant in high school. Sheis now national director for KidsCan, a national patient-run program involving youth ages 13-19 advising on pediatric research. Its creation was the first of its kind in the world. 

Learn More: 

Full summaries of the winners and runners up can be found at: healthqualitybc.ca/quality-awards/  

To learn more about Health Quality BC: healthqualitybc.ca/ 

Media Contact:  

Hannah Lawrie, Director of Communications and Public Relations