Volunteer Profile - Gary Cooper
Published Thursday, April 29, 2021
Why did you decide to volunteer your time as a Patient Family Advisor?
Very simply, to pay it forward. With my experiences in hospital locally as well as in southern Ontario as a transplant recipient, I quickly realized that without the unselfish act of someone donating an organ, I wouldn’t be alive. After the surgery, I fully appreciated what it means to have an extended life – to be alive to be with your family, to participate in family events. Life takes on a whole new meaning and gives you a new appreciation; and perspective, for it. This is my opportunity to pay it forward, to honour the people who chose to become organ donors - because of them I am here today and I am very, very grateful to them.
Did you volunteer before becoming a Patient Family Advisor?
I’ve volunteered within the community over the years at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), working with student doctors to develop their skills, efficiency and interview skills by roleplaying the part of a patient. I’ve been asked to do lectures for the Nursing students at both Lakehead University and Confederation College. For Trillium Gift of Life; who promote organ donations, I’ve done presentations here at home as well as regionally in Nipigon, Atikokan and Dryden.
What is most rewarding about being a Patient Family Advisor?
The privilege of being a part of a team that is trying to improve healthcare in Northwestern Ontario from the patient perspective.
What do you get out of volunteering your time as a Patient Family Advisor?
It is a privilege to be able to step forward and identify our concerns, have input into finding solutions and then to see our contributions put into practice throughout the organization in order to improve the healthcare system for all.
What has been the most interesting thing or memorable experience since you became a Patient Family Advisor?
Meeting new people has been very rewarding.
I would say that the most interesting thing is watching how our team; a diverse group of individuals, works cohesively to problem solve and find solutions. We have such a large group and to sit and discuss the whole operation and various topics is incredible because we get so many perspectives. But when it comes down to it, we are all there for the same reason – improving the patient experience.
The most memorable part for me is the interaction with the various departments I am involved with. The staff are passionate about their jobs and are truly working to try to make things better. All of these departments work together for a common goal – to make the patient experience better for all. The public doesn’t see the behind the scenes stuff, but it is amazing to watch.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering?
As a volunteer; whether you are steering the ship or scrubbing the deck, giving back to the community and knowing that you are making a difference is very rewarding and brings with it a great sense of satisfaction and pride.