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Going above and beyond for our patients

Louetta Ross, an oncology suite clerk at BC Cancer - Victoria, received the inaugural Unsung Hero award last fall.
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​At the BC Cancer Excellence Awards dinner in November 2018. BC Cancer-Victoria's Lou Ross, the Unsung Hero award winner, with from left: Bernice Budz, VP patient experience and interprofessional practice; Sanja Simic, the executive director of the Robert L. Conconi Foundation; Sarah Roth, president & CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation; and Dr. Malcolm Moore, former president of BC Cancer. Photo by Paul Willinsky, BC Cancer.

​The BC Cancer Excellence Awards give us an opportunity to shine a light on some of the inspiring people and teams at BC Cancer. Nominations will be accepted from June 3 to August 16, 2019. During this nomination period for the second annual BC Cancer Excellence Awards, we’re taking an occasional look at one of 2018’s winners. Go to bccancer.bc.ca/awards for more information and to submit a nomination today.

Louetta Ross, an oncology suite clerk at BC Cancer - Victoria, won the inaugural Unsung Hero award last fall. Lou shares her thoughts on the meaning of the award and her work:

The Unsung Hero goes to someone who “demonstrates an ongoing pattern of going above and beyond the scope of her job, making a positive impact on those around them and the organization.” What is your approach to your work at BC Cancer – and does it fit that award’s criteria?

Honestly, I just do what I do, I guess, naturally. It is just how I live my life … how I have always approached my work: “Do your best work every day and go home each day with the satisfying feeling of a day well spent … helping others!” 

Since the first day I started at BC Cancer, nearly 15 years ago, as I walk through the door I say to myself, “Expect miracles,” and every day, one way or another, big or small, they happen!

Our centre is filled with unsung heroes. And every day we work together to set into motion our patients’ carefully ordered health care plans, because we care. We all seem to have a personal reason for wanting to be here on the team. Perhaps that is the magic. 

My Mom shared a story with me years ago, one I have told countless times to my colleagues, about “being the daffodil.” It’s about a young artist, kneeling in a field of wildflowers, struggling to capture the beauty of a daffodil, on paper, with water colours and a paint brush – and with every attempt is never quite able to capture the magic of the bloom. In frustration she falls backwards into the flowers, and finds herself looking up at a blue sky … along the strong, green ridge of the stem that is holding the brilliant, golden bloom safely upright as it sways gently with the breeze … and gently turns the blossom’s glorious face away from the shade and into the sun … always into the sun … and in that moment she knows exactly how to capture its beauty as she becomes the daffodil!

Over the years I have shared that simple story. Interestingly, everyone “gets it.” Supporting our patients and our colleagues through the cancer journey can often be stressful. In those moments, we have our special little code of conduct. We simply smile and say, “Be the daffodil” to each other. Suddenly we are out of the shade and into the sun.

Silly? Perhaps. But it seems to help keep us aware that we are all working together on the same team, doing our best work every day!

As a unit clerk you’re really at the centre of a hub, with so many BC Cancer stakeholders buzzing around you, from physicians to medical secretaries to nurses to patients. There’s lots on your plate, and a lot of people to please. What do you enjoy most about that aspect of your job – working with so many diverse people and roles?

Lots of people buzzing around means lots of teammates (being daffodils) getting things done! The busier I am, the happier I am. The old adage about “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” is true. I love being a unit clerk because it allows me to work closely with everyone, patients included … and multitasking certainly makes one feel alive and useful!

How have you seen patient-centred care change over the years?

I joined the BC Cancer team in the fall of 2004. I had applied three years earlier but there were no positions available at that time. Another life lesson: persistence pays off!

The most profound change for me that I’ve seen over the years has been the seeming inability to attract smart, think-outside-the-box candidates to do my work. More will be needed as the boomer population ages. The amazing discoveries by our brilliant research teams over the years continue to improve lives and in many cases save lives. We can’t get more patient-centred than that.

We know you’re a passionate person. When you look back at your career at the Victoria centre, what will you say about this place, the people and our mission?

Being hired to work at BC Cancer was a wish come true for me. Indeed, I am passionate about my work here and I have been very fortunate to meet and work with brilliant, like-minded health care workers over these many years. It is an honour to be a part of our many patients’ journey. They remind me daily what courage and grace are all about, and through them I become a better person.

BC Cancer allows me to be a part of something bigger than myself. And I’ll always be grateful!

“Most importantly, Lou’s compassion and ability to communicate with and comfort patients and families is unequalled. Not only is she exemplary at her job, she raises the quality of medical care around her and does so in a manner that improves the quality of life for patients and their families and for all of those who work around her.” – One of Lou’s nominators 
For more information on the BC Cancer Excellence Awards, go to bccancer.bc.ca/awards.


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