Providence Health Care (PHC) has a strong culture of person- and family-centred care in large part thanks to Betty Murray’s diligent and passionate work as a patient partner within the organization over the past seven years. With a feisty personality and unbeatable determination, Betty goes beyond sharing her extensive experience as a patient by helping improve systems and guiding other patients to navigate health care and have their voices heard.

Betty Murray

Betty firmly believes that the patient story can’t be told without a patient in the room – their perspective is equally relevant to understanding and improving health care. She has actively participated in a wide variety of engagement opportunities over the years, such as committees, forums, workshops and presentations in conferences and panels. One of these activities included co-authoring a 2015 article in Canadian Nurse about the promising practice of a patient and family activated rapid response system at PHC. The article demonstrated the system and how it works, and provides a great example of how patients and families can write articles about volunteer opportunities in which they are involved.

Known for always being one of the first to arrive at meetings, Betty positions herself in the room in such a way as to ensure she can hear all of the conversation, and doesn’t hesitate to participate in a pointed but respectful way. She recently became the first patient partner to attend regular Safety Learning System meetings within PHC, and her contribution was so valuable that the organization’s board decided to bring a second patient partner to the team. Betty promptly put together a “curriculum” for training the new patient and arranged to meet them before and after every meeting, because sometimes the stories shared are hard and she’s able to help them work through emotions.

Over the years, Betty has been a huge asset to many groups and initiatives within and beyond PHC, such as PHC’s quality, patient safety, clinical risk management and patient- & family-centred care committee; Vancouver Coastal Health’s Community Engagement Advisor Network; British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals’ Inquiry Committee; the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council’s Quality Academy; and a panel presentation at the 2019 National Forum on Simulation for Quality & Safety.

Some of Betty’s most recent work has focused on sharing her expertise with new and future health care providers. She has participated in classroom activities with UBC pharmacy students and physical therapy students, and a clinical decision-making workshop for new nurses as part of Vancouver Coastal Health’s New Grad Program. In the fall of 2019, she joined the UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program, where groups of students from different health disciplines learn with and from a mentor – someone with lived experience – about how health care providers can support people with chronic conditions and their caregivers. Betty and the group of three students she mentors will meet regularly over the course of the school year. She hosts their discussions at her home and says they are off to a wonderful start!

Authentic to the core, Betty inspires others to improve quality and has helped grow a pool of patient partners who are capable and confident to meaningfully participate in engagement opportunities, which even include a hiring panel for positions at PHC. Moved by her passion for change and zest for life, she helps make the journey of a person who seeks medical care less traumatic, and goes above and beyond to make sure the patient voice is heard in every step of health care.