“Everyone has something they can contribute,” Betty Murray states emphatically. And she is living, breathing proof of this. Fresh off winning a leadership award at the annual BC Patient Safety and Quality Council Forum last week, the energetic 89-year old says she is still “gobstopped” at being honoured for her work as a patient partner.
Murray’s first experience as a patient partner was with the Patient Voices Network. She was excited about teaming up with health professionals, staff and other patients. And today, she continues her volunteer efforts because it’s been so interesting, “I’ve learned something new every time I’ve gone to a committee meeting, a workshop or webinar. It has also given me insight into our health care system from an operational point of view.”
For the past seven years, Murray has been involved with Providence Health Care (PHC) in a wide variety of engagement opportunities. This includes participating on committees, attending forums and workshops, and giving presentations in conferences and panels. One of the highlights for her has been sitting on a hiring panel.
Life with five kids has given Murray a lot of ‘patient experience’
When asked about the kind of patient experiences have helped shape her expertise, she laughs, “First of all, I had five children. I would ‘supervise’ the physician who was actually doing the delivery to make sure everything was going right.”
She jokes that with five children, there was always someone needing medical attention. Her husband had a serious head injury, there was a car crash, several broken limbs and other various injuries. Murray herself has had an aneurysm, a gall bladder removed, and most recently kidney stones.
Helping other patients become partners
Known for always being one of the first to arrive at meetings, Murray positions herself in the room so she can hear all of the conversation. She recently became the first patient partner to attend regular Safety Learning System meetings within PHC. Her contribution was so valuable that the organization’s board decided to bring a second patient partner to the team. Murray promptly put together a “curriculum” for training the new patient. She also arranged to meet them before and after every meeting.
“There are so many changes being made by working with patients and families that will benefit all people,” says the grandmother of 10.
In addition to her work at PHC, Murray has been a huge asset to many other groups: 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 most recently as a UBC Health Mentor.
Murray is still recovering from her kidney stone operation so she isn’t quite back up to full speed yet. But she encourages others to get involved, in whatever way they can. She says you don’t even even need to be a ‘regular’ of the medical system, “Just think of it from the aspect of ‘how do you want your mother treated, or your father, or your children?’ It’s really that simple.”
With files from the original BC Patient Safety and Quality Council story.