Healthcare professionals and volunteers recognized for demonstrating exceptional patient care

11th annual Human Touch Awards honoured individuals from
Ontario's cancer and kidney care communities

TORONTO, April 21, 2017 /CNW/ - The 11th annual Human Touch Awards took place on April 20, 2017, honouring 10 healthcare professionals and volunteers from across Ontario who have made a positive impact in the cancer and kidney care communities. Presented by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network, the Awards recognized those who have gone the extra mile to truly provide the 'human touch' by offering support, guidance and encouragement, and lifting the spirits of the patients and families they encounter.

This year's award recipients have proven to be champions in person-centred care, making every effort to meet the unique needs of each patient to ensure they receive the best possible care. From making phone calls to experts around the world to appropriately treat a patient with a rare and complex condition, to building a peer support group for young women with cancer or simply offering friendship or a smile, these passionate healthcare professionals and volunteers leave a lasting impression each day.

This year's Human Touch Awards recipients are:

  • Deborah Bezaire, a firm believer in person-centred care who demonstrates leadership and compassion on a daily basis to improve the overall patient and family experience.
  • Vera Buckingham, a beloved volunteer who manages the nourishment cart at her local renal program, wholeheartedly delivering coffee and treats every day – even homemade goods.
  • Julie Chaves, a front desk registration employee who creates a positive setting in an environment that is otherwise stressful, particularly for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
  • Dr. Jocelyn Garland, an assistant professor of nephrology and tireless patient advocate whose knowledge and expertise enables her to find solutions to treat patients with complex conditions.
  • Elise Gasbarrino, a cancer survivor who founded an organization that provides support, facilitates connections and empowers young women who are being treated for cancer.
  • Maggie Genna, the 'captain' at a chemotherapy suite who leads her team with precise attention to detail and efficiency, ensuring the safety of patients is always the top priority.
  • Craig Lindsay, a former kidney disease patient turned active volunteer who never shies from sharing his personal story to provide hope and inspiration to patients facing similar struggles.
  • Dr. Michael Lock, a radiation oncologist who is relentless in his search for new evidence and innovations to ensure his patients receive the best and most up-to-date care and treatment.
  • Debora Prokopich Buzzi, a volunteer patient and family advisor who uses her voice to advocate for fellow patients with the goal of improving the overall patient and family experience.
  • Nancy Woodcock, a renal dietician who, after over 30 years, still continues to think outside the box to ensure her kidney disease patients receive the best care and achieve optimal results.

Over 80 awards have been given out since the inception of the Human Touch Awards in 2007. The Human Touch Awards were created to highlight the importance of providing emotional support to people with cancer and kidney disease, in addition to the medical treatment they already receive. The Awards also showcase the incredible work taking place across the province each day by committed, dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals and volunteers.

CCO acknowledges the generous support of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario branch and the RBC Foundation, sponsors of the 11th annual Human Touch Awards. The partnerships between CCO, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and other organizations, health professionals, front-line care providers and volunteers make up Ontario's cancer and kidney care programs that are essential to providing and maintaining high-quality healthcare in the province.

For more information on the Human Touch Awards, including high-resolution images and a complete listing of 2017 award recipients, visit or


"The recipients of this year's Human Touch Award are exceptional caregivers, volunteers, and health professionals. Every day, they provide their patients with a level of care and compassion that goes beyond what is expected of them. I would like to congratulate the winners and thank them for their continued efforts in putting patients first and making a difference in the lives of so many people."

- Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

"Healthcare professionals and volunteers play essential roles in Ontario's cancer and kidney care systems. It is important to recognize the individuals who go the extra mile to make a lasting impact in the lives of patients and their families. The celebration of their dedication and commitment helps promote efficient, safe, high-quality and compassionate care for all Ontarians."

- Michael Sherar, President and CEO of CCO

"A cancer diagnosis or treatment is life-changing for both patients and their families, and the positive, supportive and compassionate care a patient receives can make all the difference. It is an honour to once again recognize the outstanding healthcare professionals and volunteers who go the extra mile to provide exceptional care."

- Rowena Pinto, Vice President, Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division

"This year's Human Touch Awards recipients represent hope, support, empowerment and engagement – values that we stand by at the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Congratulations to the passionate healthcare professionals and volunteers who make a difference in the lives of their patients every day."

- Greg Robbins, President, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario Branch

It is an honour to recognize the healthcare professionals and volunteers who put the human touch in their work each day and serve as role models for their communities through their inspiring work and positive attitudes."

- Stephen Mattis, Vice President, Public Sector and Not For Profit, RBC

About CCO:

An agency of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, CCO is the Ontario government's principal advisor on cancer and chronic kidney disease care, as well as access to care for key health services. It is guided by a mission that together we will improve the performance of our health systems in Ontario by driving quality, accountability, innovation and value. CCO uses its infrastructure, assets and models to improve the province's health systems for cancer and chronic kidney disease. It also directs and oversees healthcare funds for hospitals and other cancer and chronic kidney disease care providers, enabling them to deliver high-quality, timely services and improved access to care. 

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SOURCE Cancer Care Ontario

For further information: CCO media relations, Phone: 1.855.460.2646, Email:


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