Karen believes that all individuals and families using the healthcare system need to have their voices heard in all aspects of their care. As a patient advisor, Karen shares her lived experiences with chronic pain, depression, and M-GUS with the hope that a seed is planted and will grow into effective changes being made in the delivery of patient-centered care.
Karen joined the HQCA’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee in November 2023. She graduated in 2022 from the University of Calgary’s Patient and Community Engagement Research (PaCER) program and is now involved in several research projects as a Patient Researcher. She is also working with AHS on several initiatives, including the Home to Hospital to Home Transitions Guidelines as part of the Patient Resources Team within the Primary Health Care Strategic Clinical Network. (SCN).
Karen is also a member of the Medicine Strategic Clinical Network, the Mental Health Strategic Clinical Network, the Patient Engagement Reference Group (PERG), the Virtual Patient Engagement Network (VPEN), and the Alberta Health Services Patient and Family Council.
Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement
Larissa originates from Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement in northern Alberta. She recently obtained a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences and graduated from MacEwan University. She is currently working within her community as a recreation and youth activities facilitator. With a love for her community, Larissa also has four years of guiding, interpreting, and outdoor education experience within the Indigenous tourism industry. She enjoys the forests and lakelands via hiking and kayaking and has a special interest in traditional Indigenous plant relationships.
A long-time student of both science and history, Larissa has always had a curiosity about natural ancestral knowledge and kinship to the land. She shares her passion by connecting with others through land-based learning and storytelling.
Larissa joined the Patient and Family Advisory Committee in November 2023. Her experience with healthcare includes assisting her mother in navigating the healthcare system to seek treatment for her trigeminal neuralgia. Larissa strongly believes in giving the patient a voice in their course of treatment and thinks that by considering a diverse number of experiences and testimonies, the healthcare system can work towards more effective and informed policy and procedure.
Krystal Reusch was born in Toronto, grew up in Red Deer, and has been a proud Edmontonian for the past eight years. She works in an ophthalmologist’s clinic as a technician and receptionist.
Krystal was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at eight months. Her younger sister also has CF. Her lived experience as a patient with CF and as an advocate for her sister, motivates Krystal. She’s passionate about patient care and is always looking for creative solutions to improve it. She believes that communication between a patient and their healthcare provider is the key to having a positive impact on the patient’s wellbeing.
Krystal’s passion and creativity inspired her family to suggest for her to become a patient advocate. She looks forward to sharing her lived experiences of the healthcare system and collaborating with the other members of the Patient and Family Advisory Committee.
Krystal’s hobbies include crocheting, crafting, reading, decorating her apartment, and playing the occasional video game.
Teena serves as an active and avid volunteer in her community. Currently, she focuses on her work as a Toastmaster and as a literacy tutor for adults with Read On, a program through the Lethbridge Public Library. Prior to receiving a disability pension, Teena held many professional positions, including her 15 years of service as an air traffic controller in the military.
Teena’s experience with the healthcare system started with her diagnostic journey regarding multiple sclerosis (MS). This journey included her family, and uncovered other important experiences and details about care she received during infancy and childhood. Teena joined the Patient and Family Advisory Committee because believes in the value of oversight of the healthcare system by a third-party organization. Without outside oversight, she believes a system will fail or stagnate. Teena has seen first-hand the spectacular elements, as well as the struggles, of Alberta’s healthcare system. Teena is proud to inform and support the HQCA’s work to monitor the system and recognize where good work is happening.
Sherwood Park, AB
Nana’s professional career has focused on the non-profit sector and she recently moved into post-secondary education, working with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. She enjoys working on projects that impact Albertans in terms of better health treatment, care, and research.
In her personal life, Nana identifies as part of the “sandwich generation,” meaning that she and her husband provide care to her two children, and her senior parents who are deaf. Nana enjoys listening to podcasts and audiobooks, as well as volunteering in areas where she believes she can make a difference. She served previously as a board member for an organization that supported deaf and hard of hearing individuals and families. Recently, she has been volunteering more in the health sector, trying to help create a path of accessibility for those who might find it harder to access healthcare. This is the primary reason Nana joined the Patient and Family Advisory Committee, to make a difference in the area of accessibility. Because of her parents’ hearing impairment, she feels keenly aware of the layers of complexity they experience when accessing health care services that she, as a hearing person, does not.
Haitian-born spoken word artist Medgine is a person for whom the love of language and the alchemy of words is second nature. Her multi-lingual upbringing (french, creole, english) not only prompted her to begin experimenting with the potential and magic of language, but naturally compelled her into a deep love of poetry. Her work has been featured in CBC, CBC Radio-Canada, Global TV, Skirtsafire Women’s Arts Festival and the Edmonton Poetry Festival.
Over the years, Medgine has been diagnosed with Lupus (SLE), CIDP, Polymyositis and Raynaud’s, all of which has fueled her desire to merge her storytelling into patient advocacy especially those living with chronic illnesses. Medgine is currently an Improvement Facilitator, working in Primary Care and constantly brings her patient-lens when supporting family physicians and clinics. Medgine is passionate about providing tools and resources to equip discouraged dreamers living with chronic health conditions, so that they can live their most fulfilling lives. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry.
Grande Prairie, AB
Leonard is a Health and Safety Management consultant who specializes in heavy equipment, off-road, all-terrain vehicle training and certification in northern Alberta and northeast British Columbia. Leonard worked in a variety of professional roles prior to obtaining his heavy equipment operator certificate from Keyano College, including technical and safety management roles with Procter & Gamble/Weyerhaeuser.
Leonard is extremely involved in his community and has extensive volunteer experience. This includes his volunteer work with the Canadian Red Cross, where he supported the Northridge earthquake response in Los Angeles in 1995. Leonard currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, actively participating on several committees, representing the Centre as an elder, and partaking in elders and youth gatherings. Through his role on this Board, he is also involved with the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) as chairperson of the Climate Change Committee, which is part of the ANFCA’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative (ICLI). Leonard also sits on the City of Grande Prairie’s Community Advisory Board on Homelessness (CABH).
Leonard joined the Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) in 2018 with a desire to create a positive environment that fosters change within Alberta’s healthcare system. He has a professional and personal interest in safety topics and how to effectively pursue quality improvement. Leonard and his wife Rosemary have two adult children, Matthew and Elizabeth, who are both pursuing careers as healthcare professionals. Leonard and Rosemary enjoy traveling, camping, ATVing, fishing and visiting with friends and relatives.
I am a person who has lived experience with mental health and addictions. I found the obstacles these experiences created to be extremely difficult to overcome in my youth. I was always heavily involved with the social work system, mental healthcare system, addictions system, and foster care system. I now use these experiences as a source of strength and perspective in my role as a Youth Peer Support worker.
Authentically connecting with people and reducing stigma is my passion. I love bringing humor, fun, and creativity to my work in councils, research, consulting, knowledge translation, and beyond! I am proud to be a part of communities working so hard to reduce these obstacles for other young people who are going through what I once did. There is still a lot of work to be done. I believe caring authentically for people and their health will change healthcare outcomes in a beautiful way!
Jenny has lived in Calgary since she moved to Canada over twenty years ago. As the primary caregiver to her ageing parents, who have some complex healthcare issues, Jenny understands very well the challenges Albertans are facing navigating the healthcare system. Being a first-generation immigrant whose native language is not English, and through her experience of getting medical help and supporting family members and friends with their healthcare needs, Jenny has also gained insights into the language and cultural barriers many immigrants experience trying to access healthcare services. Jenny is inspired by HQCA’s mission of patient safety, person-centred care, and health service quality on a province-wide basis. She appreciates the opportunity to join the PFAC team and to inform and support HQCA’s work.
Professionally, Jenny has comprehensive experience in information technology, data management, and data engineering. She currently works as the Director of Data Engineering at the Canada Energy Regulator. She has a strong interest in seeing how patient health care information can move seamlessly between providers and the patients themselves, with the goal to put the focus on the patient/family and remove barriers to continuity of care.
Jamie retired in 2014 as City of Cranbrook Director of Engineering Services, completing 40 years of municipal engineering in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. He, and his wife of 33 years, Katie then set to fulfill a lifetime dream as full-time RVers. Their adventure was cut short in 2015 when Katie was diagnosed with stage 3 vaginal cancer which claimed her life in 2016. Jamie subsequently re-located to live with a daughter and family in Calgary later in 2016. He quickly became involved in healthcare activities as a way to “give back” after experiencing the care given and compassion shown by doctors, nurses, and all the other clinicians who tried so hard to preserve Katie’s life and ease her suffering.
Jamie has volunteered at South Campus; and later, Rockyview General Hospital, serving on the Alberta Health Research Ethics Board’s Community Health Committee; as a Food Bank volunteer; and participating in the Primary Health Care Integration Network through Alberta Health Service’s Strategic Care Network. Most recently, Jamie was sponsored by the Strategic Care Network to complete in PaCER training, which educates patients on becoming research-informed voices to benefit health system research, planning, and policy.
Jamie remarried Cathie in 2019 and they live quietly with new puppy Molly. They attend St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Calgary where they are both active on various church committees.
In his spare time, Jamie enjoys gardening, fly fishing, reading and building models of old-time sailing ships. Pre-COVID-19, Jamie has also volunteered as a timekeeper for numerous jumping events at Spruce Meadows. He hopes to continue his volunteer role when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
PFAC provides Jamie with another opportunity to both “give back” to the healthcare system in general, as well as the privilege of working with wonderful, dedicated folks who are striving to improve the health outcomes of Albertans.