Walking the Talk for Patient and Family Centred Care
by Maryanne Matthews
Cathy Topp Walks the Talk. Topp is an Operating Room (OR) Coordinator at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) who was nominated by her peers for a Walk the Talk Award. Each year, TBRHSC distributes Walk the Talk Awards in a number of categories to acknowledge and reward employees and physicians who go above and beyond in their work.
Topp was selected by a review panel for the Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC) award, which goes to an individual who demonstrates commitment to patient and family centred care by exemplifying respectful and responsive care, embracing partnerships with our patients and families and participates in creating a caring environment consistent with TBRHSC’s philosophy of care.
“To me, PFCC means that the patient is the focus of everything that we do,” says Topp. “It’s not about the nurses or the doctors; it’s about helping the patient and family on their health care journey. I don’t get to see the outcome of their case after their surgery happens, but leading up to their surgery I make sure that any interaction we have is a positive experience for them.”
While Topp overseas the scheduling of approximately fifty surgeries a day, she still finds the time to go above and beyond to ensure her patients stay informed and up to date with the status of their appointments.
“I understand how stressful these situations can be on patients, so I try to touch base with those who have been waiting for a long time to discuss the situation and find out how they’re doing,” she says. “If I have to cancel a surgery I speak to each patient myself so that I can personally apologize, arrange for their parking to be paid for, ensure they are comfortable, and try to explain the reasoning for the cancellation as best as I can. I want them to know I appreciate their patience, listen to their concerns, and explain the process and what the status of their situation is.”
Topp is honoured to have been selected for the PFCC Walk the Talk Award, but notes that she doesn’t do her job for the recognition – her and her team do it for the patients and their families.
“It’s truthfully kind of embarrassing since we’re used to working in the background, but it’s really wonderful to know that your work is making a difference,” she says. “I truly couldn’t do my job without all the people I work with who make my job better. We are a true team and we work together to make everything happen for our patients and families – that’s what the OR is all about. Anything that we can do as a team to make things easier on a patient is a positive thing and the resulting outcomes are better for everyone.”