Remembering CEAN Member Katherine Willett

It is with great sadness that we share the news that VCH Community Engagement Advisory Network (CEAN) member Katherine Willett passed away on Friday April 6 at St. Paul’s Hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer.  Words cannot express how deeply her loss will be felt by the Community Engagement team and within Vancouver Coastal Health.

Her work

Katherine joined CEAN in August of 2012 and brought to the network her invaluable experience and knowledge of caring for elders and family caregiver issues and support. “A good gerontologist to know,” Katherine specialized in supporting seniors through non-medical aging issues for 15 years.

She was also an expert in resources for family caregivers, and authored seven family and friends caregivers handbooks for the United Way.

As a CEAN member, Katherine brought her expertise and advice to  numerous projects and initiatives, her most recent being the Regional Primary Care Program Committee and the Regional Home and Community Care Program Committee.

Thoughts from VCH staff who’ve worked with Katherine

“She was funny, witty and outspoken (in a good way) and caring and kind. She always came to meetings with a positive attitude – you couldn’t help but be taken by her optimism and enthusiasm.

“She wanted to make a difference and was so committed to her work regarding seniors and caregivers. I learnt a lot from her.  And best of all she followed the wise adage ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously.’”

  • Joanne Douglas, Project Manager, Integrated Primary and Community Care

“Katherine was a respected patient and family representative who contributed to and advocated for decision making that was patient and family centred. Her presence will be greatly missed by patients, families and health care leaders alike.”

  • Shannon Hopkins, Operations Director for Home Health Services, Transition Services

“We will remember Katherine as the passionate and tireless advocate for improving primary and community care. She was always enthusiastic about being involved in many community forums and committee tables and came prepared. To the last meeting, she was cheerful and ready to give a warm hug.”

  • Veneranda Dettmers, Leader health Services Planning, Primary Health Care Network

Katherine and CEAN

The Community Engagement team is deeply impacted by Katherine’s passing. Her enthusiasm, her professionalism in her role as an advisor, her wit, and her fun nature will be missed more than we can say.

Her tremendous contributions to VCH as a CEAN member were an inspiration to all who had the opportunity to know her. She was a constant beacon for us, reminding us to keep positive and steadfast in our work supporting advisors and staff to do engagement at VCH.

A self-proclaimed “pushy broad,” she encouraged us all to be “pushy broads” as well in the best way possible, always with a hug or a smile. Her strength and wisdom will never be forgotten and will continue to live on within the network, the teams that she worked with, and the many lives that she touched.

Rest in peace dear Katherine. You will be missed.

For more information

Visit the Community Engagement website.


  1. Carol Park says:

    Such a great person! Katherine will certainly be missed. She gave so generously of her time, ideas and passion for improving care for patients and families. The VCH community benefited enormously from her contribution.

  2. Katie Hume says:

    VCH is so fortunate to have been touched by Katherine’s advocacy. She pushed the organization to do more and be better but was always constructive and positive. She was brilliant and fearless and loads of fun. I will miss her and her hugs so much.

  3. Lori Campbell says:

    Such a sad loss. Katherine was such a wonderful person and passionate advocate. Sending warm thoughts to her family, friends, and loved ones.

  4. Umilla Stead says:

    Among Katherine’s many gifts was her encouragement of others. She had a way of making each person she worked with feel valued and appreciated for their individual contributions. An interaction with Katherine always left me feeling compelled to keep working hard and to do better. She will be so missed.

  5. David Thompson says:

    So sorry to hear of Katherine’s passing. Katherine was a tireless patient advocate and never feared to put forward the patient’s perspective. Katherine’s voice will be sorely missed.

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