Sandy Hudson, right, a recent patient and Sunnybrook donor, received such good care from Filomena Madeira, left, that she nominated the personal care worker as a Champion of Care, a hospital-based employee recognition program. (Photograph by Kevin Van Paassen)
Sandy Hudson says she received terrific care from everyone at Sunnybrook, but it was the woman who took care of the little things who made the biggest difference each day.
Filomena Madeira, patient service partner, was her personal care worker during Sandy’s three-week stay in late 2016.
“She added a third dimension to my stay. She always had a smile. She washed my hair – the personal things that I couldn’t do for myself,” Sandy says.
Filomena made such a big difference that Sandy designated her as one of Sunnybrook’s Champions of Care. The Champions of Care program is a meaningful way for patients to acknowledge exceptional care received from someone special at Sunnybrook – a doctor, nurse, technician, volunteer or any staff member – in the form of a donation.
Launched in 2007, Champions of Care was the first hospital- based employee recognition program of its kind in Toronto. It was set up to let patients recognize the individuals and teams who demonstrate and provide outstanding care and treatment – those who make a difference in someone’s Sunnybrook experience.
Each Champion of Care receives an acknowledgement card and a commemorative pin to wear in recognition of the donor’s generosity. In its first two months alone, more than 100 pins were given to hospital staff members, and to date the program has received more than $1.2-million in donations honouring more than 1,600 caregivers.
Filomena says she wears her pin proudly, and Sandy is still effusive with praise for her caregiver months after returning home from hospital and rehabilitative care. To Sandy, now 71, Filomena was a Champion of Care because she always made an extra effort to ensure she was comfortable during a harrowing time.
It started when Sandy was admitted to Sunnybrook for three weeks after returning from a vacation in Scotland. Feeling unwell, she thought she had a cold at first, but just kept getting worse.
Sunnybrook’s team diagnosed Sandy with an autoimmune disease. Until her trip, she had been healthy; when she was admitted to Sunnybrook, her condition was so severe that she could not walk and could do little for herself.
“The doctors were absolutely fabulous, and so was the nursing staff. When you’re there for a long time, though, the people you see most are your personal care workers. Filomena was just awesome,” Sandy says.
“At the beginning of my stay, I needed a lot of personal help. Whenever I asked, she took care of me.”
Filomena says Sandy was “wonderful,” but she gives all her patients at Sunnybrook the same kind of personal attention.
“When patients come, I introduce myself, tell them my name and let them know that whatever they need, I can help.” says Filomena, who has cared for patients at Sunnybrook for 29 years.
Sandy says after she came home from Sunnybrook, she received a survey in the mail asking whether she was happy with the care she received.
“I said yes to the nth degree for everything. I don’t in any way want to downplay the amazing work that everyone else did for me, but when the survey got to the part asking if I’d like to make a donation and nominate someone to their Champions of Care program, it had to be Filomena,” she says.
“She made such a big difference for me. When you can’t do things for yourself, that’s when you really notice.”
Filomena would help Sandy by doing everything from offering her a cup of tea to making sure she was not too warm or too cold. Perhaps her real secret, though, is that “I smile all the time. When I would come in and say good morning to Mrs. Hudson, she’d say, ‘You’re my angel!’ That was it.”
The generosity of donors like Sandy goes a long way to making sure that innovation at Sunnybrook is possible, in part because patients are able to choose which program area they would like their donation to benefit.
For patients, nominating a Champion of Care is a way of personalizing and recognizing the work individuals do at Sunnybrook; for recipients, it’s another reason to be proud of their dedicated service.
Today, Sandy’s condition is vastly improved. After her stay at Sunnybrook, she spent 10 days at St. John’s Rehab before returning home.
Now she is on medication that has stabilized her condition, making it possible for her to drive, sew and make meals in her own kitchen.
“The program I’m on through the rheumatology department appears to be working,” she says.
“I have to be really careful, but I’m feeling big-time better.”