When Community Care Durham Board Director Helen Brenner was approaching retirement four years ago, she worried what she would do with all her spare time.
Today the Pickering resident wonders how she ever fit work into her daily schedule!
Helen is a retired RN and senior health care executive. Her career has taken her to Scarborough, Toronto, Markham-Stouffville, Oshawa and Cobourg.
She joined the board of directors last June after looking for opportunities to give back to the community.
CCD was a perfect fit.
“James (Meloche) is a mover and shaker. I’ve worked with him before. He gets things done and he has a nice way of doing it,” she said.
Helen started her career as a Registered Practical Nurse at Scarborough General Hospital before obtaining her Registered Nurse designation. Soon after graduating, Helen accepted a position in the ICU at The Wellesley Hospital where she eventually became the Nursing Unit Administrator of the Cardiology Unit.
Presented with the rare opportunity to help open a new hospital, Helen was recruited to work at Markham-Stouffville Hospital where she led the Medical Program while also completing an executive MBA gaining business expertise that she found highly applicable to the healthcare setting.
Setting her sights on working in a multi-site hospital, Helen accepted a position at Lakeridge Health leading the Regional Nephrology System (RNS). Over the next eight years, Helen, with her dedicated team introduced best practice standards and innovative strategies to enhance quality of care and the overall health care experience for patients and caregivers that caught the attention of the Accreditation Canada surveyors who awarded the RNS as ‘Practice Leaders’.
Rounding out her career, Helen accepted the VP Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive role at Northumberland Hills Hospital. Recognizing NHH served one of the oldest populations in the province, she introduced a multi-year comprehensive gerontological/senior friendly hospital strategy which resulted in NHH becoming recognized as a gerontological center of excellence.
Since retiring Helen has focused on her garden, fitness and advocacy for the environment.
She said there’s a strong link between our health and the environment in which we live. Helen has given deputations to Pickering and Durham Region councils and written letters advocating for the protection of our local wetlands, watersheds etc.
Throughout her career she’s had a unique perspective of the health care industry. She has seen the long-standing challenges of supporting people in the community and ensuring that they are safely discharged from the hospital to their own homes.
Helen believes advocacy is the key to ongoing improvements and gaining increased funding for the community care sector and feels CCD’s columns in the newspaper, ongoing work with partners in the Durham Ontario Health Team, and the outreach the organization is doing bodes well for the future.
In closing, Helen said, “It is vital that we continue to work with our government to address this critical but underappreciated and underfunded segment of our health care system. Sound investments in the community sector will undoubtedly reduce the demands on the high-cost acute care sector.”