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CMA Patient Voice: Twelve patient members ready to start work to inform CMA advocacy

“I’m going in with an open mind and I’m going to jump in where I’m asked.”

That’s how Elke Hutton explains her new role as a member of the CMA Patient Voice – a new patient liaison group that will bring insights from patients and their families to the CMA’s work.  

Hutton, from Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, has more than 30 years of experience in the health care system − as a patient, caregiver and patient advocate – and is one of 12 Canadians selected to sit on the committee, alongside CMA board members Dr. Brian Brodie and Dr. Linda Slocombe.

With the group’s first meeting December 6 of last year, committee members were looking forward to connecting as a group and setting an agenda for the year ahead.

“It’s an opportunity for me to give back to the health care system, share my experience and offer my opinions for change,” says Rodney Young of Halfmoon Bay, BC.

Young was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002 and is now confined to a wheelchair. As a patient in a rural area, he has a lot to say about access to care. But it’s also his business background in process improvement that will be an asset to the group.

“I understand how to look at medical processes, best practices and find ways to implement change if change is required,” says Young, who will take part in the CMA Patient Voice meetings by video conference.

32-year-old Sonia Seguin is bringing her unique perspective – as both patient and health services provider – to the CMA Patient Voice team. Seguin battled an eating disorder for eight years and felt she had little or no say over her treatment. She has since launched a not-for-profit organization in Hamilton to offer support services to anyone struggling with eating disorders. She is eager to use her voice to help others.

“I think the patient experience can often be a very powerless one and I think it’s important to find a way to hear that patient voice throughout the process,” says Seguin.

Members of the CMA Patient Voice make a one-year commitment that can be extended up to three years. They plan to meet in-person twice a year to highlight emerging issues that matter to patients and the public and to provide insights on the CMA’s patient engagement strategies and advocacy campaigns. CMA Patient Voice is part of the 2020 strategic plan to consistently bring a patient perspective to the work of the CMA.

Elke Hutton said she could hardly wait to get started.

“Finally,we’re at the point where patients are actually being heard and being taken seriously and their opinions are valued, and I’m looking so forward to being apart of it.”