Staff recognized for “Making A Difference”

Staff recognized for “Making A Difference”

“Making A Difference” is an annual contest where staff, physicians, patients, and volunteers are asked to nominate someone who has made a positive difference for families, patients, visitors or staff at Hamilton Health Sciences. The awards recognize people who go above and beyond in their roles. These three winners were selected from this year’s many deserving nominees.


Diane Boyd

Diane Boyd, registered nurse, oncology, Juravinski Cancer Centre

3rd place winner

 What Diane’s nominator said about her:
“I remember another time where I was sitting waiting for my appointment and an elderly woman had come in for an appointment. She was very upset and was telling the reception about loosing her son. She was very emotional while waiting and Diane came out to get a patient and saw that this woman was upset. Diane sat with the woman, listened to her and then took it upon herself to move her into the chemo suite so that she didn’t need to stay in the waiting room. Diane then made sure that she was comfortable and had a social worker come and sit with her. I was amazed at the extra efforts that she made for just 1 patient and can only imagine how many times in a day she does that.” -Tonia Quinlan
What Diane says about making a difference:

My role as an RN here is to administer chemotherapy and to assess, support and educate patients about the drugs we are giving them to treat their diseases. I have personally worked in different areas of oncology for 22 years and love my job. Over the years I have learned that sometimes we need to look outside the box and realize that people are not just fighting cancer. Sometimes believe it or not, cancer is the least of their worries. Sometimes life is just happening the way it does and there are many more obstacles to overcome. We as health care providers need to recognize that and treat the whole person.

Sometimes people will say to me, “how can you work in oncology?” I believe that if those people have the courage to fight and the inner strength to walk through the doors of the cancer centre and keep a positive attitude, the least we can do as health care providers is support them and give them tools to make their journey easier. Everyone involved with health care can make a difference. I see it everyday. I am surrounded by amazing coworkers and feel so honoured to work beside them. Together as a team we make a difference to our patients everyday. I am just one of the lucky people who was formally recognized for the part I play.



Tanya Beal

Tanya Beal, charge nurse, Post Anesthetics Care Unit, Hamilton General Hospital

2nd place winner

What Tanya’s nominator said about her:
“Tanya went above and beyond the call of duty for a young patient that came for surgery. The patient was in her 20s and she’d had many surgeries. So she was known to everyone in the recovery room because she had so many procedures. She is a young pretty girl but Tanya had realized that she wasn’t able to keep up with personal care as the patient could not do things for herself. So Tanya being the kind person that she is took the patient back to her room and shaved her legs and underarms. All the things a 20-something year old girl would do. Also the next day she went to the store bought her toenail clippers and polish and when the patient came in again for yet another operation Tanya trimmed her toenails and fingernails and put polish on her nails. The patient was so happy and felt so much better about herself.” -Michele Dukarich
What Tanya says about making a difference:

When, I first learned that I was nominated I was shocked, honoured, and humbled. I am the charge nurse of the Post Anesthetics Care Unit at Hamilton General Hospital. It is a very fast-paced department and we rarely get to develop ongoing friendships with our patients.

This patient was an exception. She was a very sweet young patient who had multiple surgeries. In her many visits, I got to know her. She was quite sick and could not take care of her self. She couldn’t do things like shaving or clipping her toenails. Having two daughters near the same age, I knew how hard this must have been for her. So after one of her surgeries, I grabbed one of my health care aids, Sue Radinovic, and we gave this patient a spa treatment in her room.

I then asked when her next operation was scheduled. It was four days away. I got prepared for her feet. When she woke up after the next surgery, she had pretty pink toes. It was a fun and happy moment. It was not only special for myself, but for our entire department. We all had a special bond with her. Everyday, I try to abide by the pay forward theory. For such little effort so many people benefit.



Rena Coomber

Rena Coomber, registered nurse, hematology/oncology, McMaster Children’s Hospital

1st place winner

What Rena’s nominator said about her:
“I remember working with a night shift with a dying young man. I was a new nurse and still working out the fine details of re-evaluating priorities and balancing them with orders and routines. She knew what was going to take priority that night – she knew that this young man needed more than anything to not be alone. She knew it before he asked and she knew it before I had made the decision to ask how and if I could make this happen. She rallied the other nurses on that night and divided up the remainder of my patients. Then brought me a blanket and cup of tea and an extra chair to put my feet up and sit next to him that last night while he managed to get some restful sleep. To this day, she continues to be a mentor, orienting me to my current role and supporting my many questions! She is a nurse like no other, and is quietly making a huge difference every day for all those around her!” – Jennifer Wolfenden, RN
What Rena says about making a difference:
When I learned I had been nominated and read what was written about me, I was surprised and got a bit emotional. I felt a bit unworthy but very proud. I felt so special and appreciative that someone would take the time to formally acknowledge me in this way. It really meant a lot. It reminded me how important it is to let your colleagues know when they have done a good job because we all work very hard.
When I approach families, I try to think about how I would want to be treated or how I would want my children or people I care about to be treated if they were in the same situation. Coming from that perspective, it is easy to make decisions and behave in a way that has a positive impact. I am no different than the other health care professionals I work with. I am so lucky to work with a team of people that strive daily to make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. This kind of environment sets the standard for exceptional health care delivery. When colleagues inspire you to go above and beyond to take care of patients, it becomes contagious.
I have worked as a registered nurse in pediatric hematology/oncology for 25 years. My job involves dealing with the patients directly to administer chemotherapy and other supportive therapies. It is such a privilege to work every day with families who are navigating through such unimaginable challenges. It is very rewarding work and to be told I am making a difference means so much to me.