In April 2019, #SuperSHIFTER Abisaac Saraga celebrated his 10th anniversary with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) as the Web and Social Media Manager. Abisaac says he is open book, but what you may not know about him is: he is a rom-com junkie; he played the violin in his high school orchestra; and is a very talented short-stop on the slo-pitch field. You will always know when Abisaac is in the office, as the hallways are filled with laughter. Abisaac is an award-winning social media manager who has been recognized for his skills in making CPSI's social media campaigns come alive.
What drew you to join the Canadian Patient Safety Institute?
I have worked for both the non-profit and private sector and felt that I would get more gratification working in the not-for-profit sector. Working for a cause that I wasn't aware of and then seeing the importance and urgency of their work really attracted me to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.
What is your role at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute? What do you enjoy most about it?
The biggest part and complexity of my role is to make all the tools and resources that help to make the system safer accessible to everyone. For anyone that is looking to prevent harm, improve processes, or find a resource, framework, guide, toolkit or checklist, I work hard to make that information easy to find on our website, either by pushing it out, or finding ways to promote the information on social media.
We are a small organization and I have had a great opportunity to grow in this role. When I first started, there was no social media whatsoever at CPSI and I was able to create a digital footprint for the organization.
How did you get your start in web and social media?
About a month before I got married, my wife was diagnosed with celiac disease. That began my journey into social media. We started a blog and then developed a website called Gluten Free Edmonton. That led me into social media and I became a minor influencer in Edmonton. I get a lot of positive feedback about the helpfulness of this information from the gluten-free community.
I bring an interesting combination of marketing, technical skills and know-how of web development to my role at CPSI.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Although I am at my computer most of the day, working with staff on web and social strategies to disseminate their work, I find time to sprinkle wellness into my daily routine. I have my smoothie in the morning; I walk at lunch time and take a break for a short walk in the afternoon. I also encourage others to walk with me. I think it is important to have wellness breaks throughout the day, and I am happy that CPSI is highly supportive of wellness. I don't eat lunch at my desk, as I already spend 90 per cent of the day there and I look forward to the change of environment. My colleagues and I often venture into great discussions over lunch, debating our favourite date night restaurant, recipe ideas, or things to do on a weekend, which is all a welcome break from work talk.
How has CPSI supported your career development?
CPSI really supports professional development and encourages you to grow. We have performance plans where we identify what we want to learn this year and what is going to make us better next year. I have had the opportunity to learn from amazing programs to take my marketing, communications and leadership to the next level. I just completed a leadership executive development program at the University of Alberta. In June, I will attend the Canadian Patient Safety Officer Course and I am excited to expand my knowledge of patient safety through that program.
What is the most important thing you have learned about patient safety?
At first, patient safety is something that I took for granted. I now try to be more thoughtful about how I get information out to everyone. I don't have a healthcare background, so actually knowing that patient harm is an issue in the healthcare system is one of the most important things that I have learned.
CPSI has some very ambitious goals, and I like what we are working toward. We are now turning our efforts toward public engagement to raise awareness that patient harm is the third leading cause of death in Canada. We want people to know that and create a new voice to address this complex issue.
What has been your proudest moment at CPSI?
Without a doubt, it was building our current website. It was a long and thoughtful process where we reached out to both internal and external stakeholders for input. We collaborated with user interface designers, developers, graphic designers and writers to make the website what it is. We received an award from the International Association for Business Communicators (IABC) for this work and I am very proud of that recognition.
What are your hopes for patient safety and quality improvement?
I look to our strategy, PATIENT SAFETY RIGHT NOW! My hope is that patient safety becomes a priority. Currently, there is awareness at a systems level, but now is the time to reach out to the public. Once the public is engaged, I hope we can get them riled up so that they march together with purpose, toward something that will make safe care a reality.
The Canadian Patient Safety Institute is incredibly lucky to have Abisaac Saraga on their team. He goes above and beyond every single day in his approach to patient safety. He comes to the table as a kind-hearted and empathetic human being who truly understands the humanistic approach of what we need to advance safe care.