“The HUMANCARE campaign is overdue”

Her first experience with health care taught Lynn Bailey a lesson she never forgot.

It was the summer of 1976. The Montreal Olympics had just wrapped. I’d graduated from high school, and was planning to work my gap year before heading to university. The world was bright.  Then on August 18, I was hit by a car. I underwent two brain surgeries at St. Michael’s Hospital.

I was in the hospital for a few weeks. I had to learn how to walk again. I had to come to grips with what had happened to me. I had to deal with having a shaved head, which may not seem important now, but at the time, to a teenage girl, it was a very big deal.  

My time there not only saved my life, it also changed it. I learned what it was to receive not just great medical care, but great patient care. People were supportive and kind. And I learned that I wanted to deliver that kind of care to others.

Nearly 50 years on, I have had a rewarding career in mental health, culminating in a decade as a child and youth case worker at CAMH. And I never forgot the lessons I learned from my first experience with health care all those summers ago – like how to speak to people, and how to empathize with them.

I remember one 18-year-old client in particular. I said to her, “You know what? I remember a young woman going through a lot of the things you are. That woman was me.” She looked at me wide-eyed, but I know it helped her.

I thought about my story the first time I heard about the HUMANCARE campaign. St. Michael’s wants to redesign the patient care experience, so people feel listened to, comforted, supported and safe when they are at their most vulnerable. That resonates with me. I love the idea of health providers understanding that the job is not just to fix what’s broken, but to relate to people at an emotional level. At a human level.

The HUMANCARE campaign is overdue. It is bold and trailblazing and the emphasis on our shared humanity is exactly what we need in health care today. I am proud to call myself a HUMANCARE champion.

To learn more about HUMANCARE, our movement to reinvent the patient experience, click here.