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Health Advocate and Interim Seniors' Advocate

Deborah has a professional background and training in Social Work and Law. As a private consultant, she has worked in the areas of respectful workplace, human rights and conflict management offering mediation, investigation, and training. Deborah served as Panel Chair for the Alberta Human Rights Commission and as a Sitting Justice of the Peace in the Provincial Court of Alberta, Traffic Division.

Following the death of her mother from a potassium mix-up in 2004, Deborah became a very committed patient safety advocate. She became a founding member of the Calgary Health Region's Patient/Family Safety Council, Patients for Patients Safety Canada and more recently the Alberta Health Quality Council Patient/Family Safety Advisory Panel. She also served two terms as a board member with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

Deborah is recognized as a Patient Safety Champion by the WHO Patient Safety Initiative. Deborah has played a significant role in speaking about her family's experiences to advance patient safety culture, policies and procedures. She has worked with many staff, including those involved in her mother's death, and other patient/family members in sharing experiences and opportunities to advance the voice and participation of patients and families as engaged partners in their care and safety across Canada and internationally.

She has sat on working groups in Alberta developing the provincial guidelines for Disruptive Behaviour in Healthcare, the provincial Patient Safety Framework and was appointed to both Ministers' Advisory Committees on Health reform that laid the foundation for the new Alberta Health Act. Deborah is also a Master Trainer for the Disclosure of Unanticipated Medical Outcomes with the Institute of Healthcare Communication Canada.

In July 2014, Deborah was appointed as the first permanent Alberta Health Advocate. Her responsibilities include implementing the provincial Health Charter, the first of its kind in Canada. She is also the Interim Seniors' Advocate for the Province. These positions bring together Deborah's background and experience in law, social work and health care in the pursuit of a promoting a responsive quality health care system.

Deborah is called upon to speak publicly at seminars and conferences on issues related to patient experience, patient engagement, patient safety and management after adverse events.  Her insights and humor make her a sought after story teller.

Deborah received the Award of Meritorious Service from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta in 2014.


Contact

kelly.blenkin-church@albertahealthadvocates.ca