HSN and the Foundations celebrate International Women’s Day

Posted 8 March 2024 at 8:05am

In honour of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the incredible women at Health Sciences North (HSN) who play integral roles in providing exceptional, patient-centered care to patients and their families in our community.

Here are a few of the many women leading the way to healthcare excellence across Northeastern Ontario.

Alexie Vaillancourt

Alexie, an RN in the NICU and Pediatrics department, was inspired to become a nurse when she witnessed her grandmother receiving care when she was younger. “My grandmother spoke highly of the nurses who cared for her, even saying they were angels. After experiencing the compassion and care they showed her, I knew I wanted to do the same. Although my grandmother passed away right as I started nursing school and never watched me become a nurse, everything I do is for her!

Watching someone go through illness is never easy, and I admit that it was a challenge to cope in the beginning. I’m fortunate that I have a great support system and mentors that help guide me through my challenges. To all the women in this career, and any career in a healthcare field, you rock! It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse but it is the most rewarding career. Even though not every day is a good day, the good days make it all worth it.”

Dr. Yunni Jeong & Suchita Bali

Dr. Yunni Jeong, General Surgeon (left), and Suchita Bali, Manager of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (right) are helping to lead HSN’s journey to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive for our staff, physicians, medical learners, volunteers, and patients and families.

Suchita is the chair of the HSN and HSNRI’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Anti-Racism (IDEAA) Committee and Dr. Jeong is one of the committee members. They are both passionate about breaking down barriers facing women in healthcare.

“Creating a culture of inclusion is essential to achieving gender equality. We must strive to embrace diversity, break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments free from discrimination in order to establish equity” – Dr. Yunni Jeong

“Learning from diverse lived experiences of women who identify as Indigenous, Black, women of color, and other marginalized populations is essential in understanding systemic barriers and building an inclusive healthcare where everyone feels they belong. This helps to achieve better health outcomes for all.” – Suchita Bali

Catherine McMillan

Catherine, a Speech Language Pathologist, has worked in the Outpatient Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service at HSN and in the Shirley and Jim Fielding Northeast Cancer Centre for many years helping cancer patients and patients with brain injuries get their voices back – literally ­–  while also inspiring the next generation of women healthcare workers along the way.

“It’s important for other women to see what they are capable of,” said Catherine. “When I was younger, it was another Speech Language Pathologist who showed me that there doesn’t have to be limits to who or what I want to be. That’s why I have been actively involved in the preceptor program at HSN, to be a mentor to students and staff like the one I had. Working in this field, I am rewarded everyday and fulfilled knowing that there are so many exceptional women at HSN who continue to empower each other and guide and teach the next generations.”

Thank you to all the women who make a positive impact to healthcare in our community, region, and beyond!

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