Meet this year’s People First Award winners

I’m thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s People First Awards. We received over 80 nominations of staff, physicians, teams and leaders who put people first, challenge the status quo, build strong relationships, think creatively, and provide compassionate care to our patients, clients and residents.

The selection committee—comprised of Senior Executive Team members, Professional Practice leaders and front-line staff—had the difficult task of evaluating the impressive entries based on the award criteria. For each category, an Award of Excellence was given to the nominee with the highest average score and up to three Awards of Merit were given to the runners-up.

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues and friends!                          

The Unsung Hero

This award is for an individual who has consistently gone above and beyond without fanfare to the benefit of the organization and the people around them, whether they are patients or fellow staff members.

Award of Excellence

  • Brent Fitzsimmons, Needle Exchange & Harm Reduction Program Coordinator, Public Health for Gibsons, Sechelt & Pender Harbour

Awards of Merit

  • Nova Cleghorn, Nurse Educator, Medical, Surgical & Pediatrics, Powell River General Hospital
  • Sophia Goksoyr, Social Worker, Intensive Care Unit, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Dr. Raymond Au, Psychiatrist, Psychiatric Emergency Unit, Richmond Hospital

Patient-Centred Care

This award is for an individual who goes above and beyond to support their patients, clients or residents in the delivery of high quality care and services while upholding professional standards.

Award of Excellence

  • Lynn Ottoson, Registered Psychiatric Nurse, Inpatient Psychiatry, Richmond Hospital

Awards of Merit

  • Jill Scott, Thrombosis Clinic Nurse, Hematology –Thrombosis Clinic, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Christopher Dickinson, Outreach Worker, Medical Mobile Unit, Vancouver
  • Maureen (Mo) Gaffney, Registered Nurse, Primary Care Clinic, Downtown Community Health Centre, Vancouver Community

Teamwork & Collaboration

This award is for a team that has come together to problem-solve, break down boundaries and/or create new relationships, finding sustainable solutions to health care challenges.

Award of Excellence

  • Mobile Medical Unit Deployment Team, Vancouver Acute & Vancouver Community:
    Lori Korchinski, Afshan Nathoo, Miranda Compton, Dr. Eric Grafstein, Michelle de Moor, Dr. Keith Ahamad, Dr. Annabel Mead, Caitlin Etherington, Dr. Stan de Vlaming, Tim Chu, Ross Maguire, Marsha Simons, Joe Acker, Peter Hennecke, Krista Golden, Nathanial Lim

Awards of Merit

  • Downtown Eastside Connections Project Team, Vancouver Community:
    Dr. Dan Pare, Monika Stein, Neil Braun, Keith McDonald, Jeff West, Jacey Larochelle, Dr. Ron Joe, Ben Fair, Andrew MacFarlane
  • Chest Pain Working Group, Emergency, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver Acute:
    Lori Korchinski, Jaime Gallagher, Susan Harrison Salt, Sarah Turner, Lori Quinn, Cassie Wright, Sean Freeze, Bruce Hartnett, Dr. Heather Lindsay, Dr. Tong Lam, Dr. Chad Kim Sing, Erin Collins, Liz Crane, Darlene Davelaar, Christine Davie, Carole Dion, Michelle Dodds, Suzanne Fayle, Tracy Johnson, Tony Kumar, Gertrude Lee, Scott Maher, Penny Merletti, Trang Nguyen, Simona Pavlikova, Suzanne Pell, Evangeline Portillo, Jean Power, Gosha Roman, Sinead Ryan, Joanne Scott, Heather Sengara, Alexia Simeoni, Lindsey Bott, Angela Tait, Lindsay Tarasoff, John Tino, Veronica Tsang, Cindy Vanderbyl, Tracy Visser, Adrienne Zawyrucha, Carole Stevens, The Heart Services Cardiology Technologist team
  • VGH Perfusionists, Vancouver Acute:
    Amandeep Sidhu, David Nash, Filippo Berna, Bernie Hanasyk, Jaime Drake, Matt Fieldwalker, Eleanor Sese, Rob Chalus, Doug Israel, Kim Long (KL) Ta, Patrick Lavassani, Edwin Proniuk


This award is for an individual who uses their courage and creativity to bring forward innovative solutions that challenge the status quo, improve quality and move us toward a more sustainable health care system.

Award of Excellence

  • Dr. Kendall Ho, Emergency Physician, Vancouver General Hospital & TEC4Home Lead

Awards of Merit

  • Christine Korol, Psychologist, Outpatient Psychiatry, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Michelle Hecht, Registered Nurse, Emergency Department, Lions Gate Hospital
  • Anna Richley, Manager, Mental Health & Substance Use Supported Housing, Vancouver Community


This award is for a respected, compassionate leader who inspires their peers and team with their thirst for excellence.

Award of Excellence

  • Dale Handley, Head Nurse, Carlile Youth Concurrent Disorders Centre, HOpe Centre

Awards of Merit

  • Dr. Faisal Khosa, Assistant Professor, Trauma Radiology, Vancouver General Hospital
  • Dr. Michael Wilkins-Ho, Medical Manager, Tertiary Older Adult Assessment & Treatment Unit, Willow Pavilion, Vancouver General Hospital & Head, UBC Division of Geriatric Psychiatry
  • Shelly Fleck, Operations Director, Operating Room Booking, Slating & Waitlist Management & Strategic Initiatives, Vancouver General Hospital


This award is for an individual or group who has volunteered their time to improve the health care system for their community.

Award of Excellence

  • Pender Women’s Clinic Volunteer Team, Vancouver Community:
    Laura Gair, Amanda Feng, Polly Ng

Award of Merit

  • Josephine Macdonald, Volunteer, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver Acute
  • Chian-Li Hsu, Volunteer, Palliative Care Unit, Vancouver Acute

Thanks to all nominees and nominators

All of our nominees should feel proud of being recognized by their colleagues for the impact they are having on our organization and its culture. Thank you to all nominators who took time out of their busy days to highlight an inspirational colleague or team. Every nominee received a personal letter of congratulations. Kudos to all of our 2017 People First Award individual and team nominees.

Let the celebrations begin

The awards reception for the winners and their guests will be held on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 to celebrate their outstanding contributions to VCH. We’ll also profile the winners in VCH News over the coming months.

On behalf of the Senior Executive Team, I sincerely want to congratulate the winners and the nominees for their achievements.

Please congratulate our winners in the comments section below. They deserve it!

Mary Ackenhusen
President and CEO
Vancouver Coastal Health

  1. Mary Findlay

    Good for the person who thought to nominate Brent who is ny colleague. His is a tough job! He has such a great attitude and has been effective in educating his public health team mates about harm reducation. It is a lonely role and he is constantly humbled by the clients he is dedicated to helping. Thanks for recognizing him in this way.

    May 23, 2017
  2. Freeman Qu

    No one from the Coastal region won any of these awards? Just wondering why.

    I thought VCH stood for Vancouver AND Coastal.

    As a VCH employee working in the Coastal region, I would like to have some explanations.

    May 19, 2017
    • Mary Findlay

      Brent Fitzsimmons is one of the winners and he is from the SUNSHINE COAST! He is amazing in his role as Harm Reduction Lead! Maybe there are others??? The winners first had to be nominated so maybe the coast folks are just too busy working to look up and see what amazing colleagues we have.

      May 23, 2017
    • mconwi

      Thanks for your comment, Freeman. There are three winners from the Coastal Community of Care this year: Brent Fitzsimmons, Nova Cleghorn and Dale Handley. If you want to know how the winners are chosen, the selection process is explained on VCH Connect: http://vch-connect/ld/ManagementDevelopment/EmployeeRecognition/peopleFirst/selection/Pages/default.aspx

      May 23, 2017
      • Fiona Hughes

        Actually, there are 4 winners from Coastal. RN Michelle Hecht, too! Michelle works in the Emergency Department at LGH.

        May 31, 2017