Kari Bulger is an invaluable patient and family advisor for Alberta Health Services (AHS) and a champion for bringing the patient perspective to many aspects of healthcare in Alberta. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and HealthCareCAN are pleased to recognize Kari as an honourable mention recipient of the 2015 Patient Safety Champion Individual Award.
"Kari's relentless passion to ensure the perspective of patients and families is consistently engrained within our day-do-day work is far-reaching and will have a substantial impact on our shared goal of partnering with patients and families to improve quality and safety, as well as the patient experience and outcomes," says Sean Chilton, Chief Zone Office, South Zone, Alberta Health Services. "She takes the time to understand all sides of an issue, is thoughtful and respectful, challenging each of us to consider the voice of patients and families in our work. Kari so deserves to be recognized for her contributions to patient and family engagement at AHS."
Kari brings a unique perspective and has demonstrated significant leadership as a patient advisor at a provincial level that has helped to elevate and shape the role that advisors play across AHS. She played a pivotal role in the development of Quality Assurance Council (QAC) Engagement Guidebooks. Her ability to share her knowledge and insights about what advisors need to be successful in conjunction with the needs of other committee members and staff liaisons, will help to foster meaningful and sustainable partnerships for QACs and other committees, as well as build capacity within AHS.
To advance systematic change, Kari has been integral in helping AHS operational and medical leaders understand gaps in care and services and co-developed strategies for creating a culture of engagement. She has participated on the Quality and Safety Executive Committee, providing oversight for quality of care monitoring and improving across all sectors; the Patient & Family Advisory Group, consulting on key organizational initiatives and policies, and providing advice on how to meaningfully engage and support patient and family advisors; the Action Learning Project for AHS Executive Leadership Development Program, assisting on the development of a measurement framework for patient and family-centred care; and the South Zone Quality Council, providing oversight for zone quality initiatives. She is also an effective spokesperson on behalf of patients and families, presenting to the AHS Board, executive and other groups on the importance of placing patients at the forefront of any care experience.
To increase her knowledge and expertise, Kari completed the University of Calgary Quality Certificate Course, which involved a quality improvement project to improve communication and family involvement in creating and adjusting a care and discharge plan on a geriatric assessment unit.
"Patient advisors have a critical role in patient engagement, and the patient and family-centred care approach to improving quality and safety," says Kari Bulger. "Healthcare is a journey that patients, families and providers are on together. We share a common goal – to give and receive the best care possible. Combining our passion, energy and expertise is an exciting opportunity to make healthcare better for all."