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October 29, 2010

Region staff member recognized for working to improve palliative care

Fred Nelson, after receiving the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Award of Excellence

A Winnipeg Health Region social worker has received a national award for his work and commitment to improving care for the dying and their families.

Fred Nelson, a psychosocial specialist in the Region's Palliative Care Program and a clinical team member of the Canadian Virtual Hospice, received the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Award of Excellence earlier today in Ottawa.

The award, presented during the Canadian Palliative Care Association's national conference, recognizes the contribution of a CHPCA member who exemplifies professional or personal commitment and achievement in the field of hospice palliative care within Canada.

Nelson is a worthy choice to receive the award, said Dr. Mike Harlos, Medical Director of the Winnipeg Health Region's Palliative Care Program, a Virtual Hospice team member, and a prior recipient of the same award.

"Fred has been a dedicated and unwavering champion for Manitobans living with life-limiting illness. The ripple effect from the hours he has spent teaching professional and volunteer caregivers is immeasurable," said Harlos.

Nelson has worked for close to 30 years in the palliative care community as a clinician, consultant, and teacher. He also has comprehensive knowledge of the issues and challenges facing both individuals and families living with terminal illness.

As a psychosocial program specialist with the Region's Palliative Care Program, Nelson provides counselling services to individuals and families coping with terminal illness and grief, plus consultation and support to members of the palliative care team.

In addition, he is also a member of the Virtual Hospice clinical (as we don't provide "health care" we are careful not to refer to the clinical team as health care team) team. He oversees psychosocial material posted on their website and responds to questions submitted to the "Ask a Professional" section.

"For almost thirty years Fred has been helping people through the most difficult time of life," says Shelly Cory, Executive Director of the Canadian Virtual Hospice. "Virtual Hospice is one of countless regional and national initiatives that have benefitted from Fred's expertise and commitment. We are very fortunate to have him on our team."

Canadian Virtual Hospice is a national website based in Winnipeg that provides information and support to people with life-limiting illness, to their families and to health care providers. It has been ranked by the Canadian Health Libraries Association as one of the best health websites in Canada.

Lori Embleton, Director of the Palliative Care Program, said Nelson is a deserving award recipient.

"Fred has been a dedicated and unwavering champion for Manitobans living with life-limiting illness and for those caring for them for almost 30 years," said Embleton after the presentation.

In a letter nominating Nelson for the award, Jill Taylor-Brown, Director of Patient/Family Support Services at CancerCare Manitoba, wrote, "Fred's life's work has been the development of inter-professional palliative care and he has worked tirelessly toward this end. Fred brings compassion, enormous respect, presence, humility and humaneness to every encounter," she said. "I feel grateful to have Fred as a colleague . . . and take great comfort in knowing he has influenced the quality and comprehensiveness of care that is available in our city, province and throughout Canada."

Virtual Hospice is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Winnipeg Health Region. Awards for the website and its team include:

  • virtualhospice.ca won the silver award in the website category, at the US-based Health and Sciences Communications Association's Media Festival.
  • Chair Dr. Harvey Chochinov received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, and an award for outstanding contribution from the International Psychosocial Oncology Association.
  • Team member Dr. Cornie Woelk was named Physician of the Year by Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons.

For more information, please visit the Canadian Virtual Hospice website.

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