The purpose of the provincial Patient Council is three-fold:
- To provide input on issues pertaining to governance of the BC SUPPORT Unit, thereby increasing the diversity of patient perspectives.
- To engage with BC SUPPORT Unit personnel related to specific issues and projects that arise from BC SUPPORT Unit operations.
- To be a resource for other BC Academic Health Science Network (BC AHSN) Units where appropriate.
Please see below for information about each Patient Council member.
We thank all members of the Patient Council for all they have done for the BC SUPPORT Unit, and for patient-oriented research in British Columbia.
Anni Rychtera (Vernon)
I am a nurse practitioner, natural health practitioner and college educator (Health Sciences). I was involved early on in my career in clinical research at the University of Ulm, Germany, the first unit world-wide for haplo-identical bone marrow transplants for children. My lived experience with chronic nerve pain (after a sports injury and delayed surgery), and as a cancer survivor and thriver, taught me the importance of being an informed patient and an equal partner in health care decision making. I was instrumental in creating the position of a Patient Advocate at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. I am a long-time volunteer facilitator and health coach for the University of Victoria's self-management programs and a First Link peer support for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have been actively involved with Patient Voices Network since 2014. I am also a member of the Patient Advisory Committee for the Association of Registered Nurses of BC and the Standing Committee on Health Services and Population Health with the Ministry of Health. My engagement with the BC SUPPORT Unit started as a co-facilitator for training in patient-oriented research. I am also involved in work groups for training and capacity development, helping to plan the annual conference and developing a workshop on patients as peer reviewers. I would like to become more involved in research and now I am a patient partner on the CodeMI research team.
Bonnie Mowatt (Gitanmaax)
Bonnie is from Gitanmaax (Hazelton) in northern BC. She has lived there most of her 57 years. Bonnie is well versed in her culture, Gitxsan. She is fluent with the language as well as the culture. Bonnie harvests some of the traditional medicines and is very active with the traditional feasts and gatherings.
Fred Cameron (Victoria)
After a lifelong battle with addiction, I entered the world of recovery in 2015. In my early struggles, I came to realize that if I embraced it, my experience could be used to help others. I am currently using my lived experience to help conduct health care research under the SPOR guidelines, and working in a recovery house supporting people in early recovery.
Gwen Campbell McArthur (Kamloops)
My name is Gwendyline Campbell McArthur of Ojibwe/Saulteaux Metis and Ukrainian Ancestry. I was born in the Adhesion to Treaty 5 territory at Kississing Manitoba. I was raised on the land, fishing, hunting, trapping, and gathering along with teachings of my paternal grandmother, my father Bob Campbell who was a master hunter and fisherman, and my Auntie Mae Louise Campbell, Indspire Laureate for her work with vulnerable Indigenous women and families across Canada. As a psychiatric mental health nurse, my work has spanned five decades. My practice has been guided by Indigenous Elders, and other spiritual leaders. I feel like I have been an Elder in training all my life, from the age of three listening to my granny’s stories. The abject poverty of lean years hunting and trapping left me with an inner strength, believing that survival was more than just eating three meals a day. It was the perseverance of living life true to land and to your family. It left me with a fierce ambition to use these tools in every way. Along with my Diploma in Psychiatric Nursing, my RN, my BScN Aboriginal mental health speciality degree, I also studied at an Indigenous school of nursing and midwifery for my master’s in nursing. After being awarded the Aboriginal role model of the year in Corrections Services Canada, I retired from full-time work. As well as clinical work, I am a nurse educator and researcher, having several published chapters in nursing text books, stories on Indigenous health and dementia, as well as contributing writer for key Aboriginal initiatives in cultural safety and Indigenous cultural competency and standards of practice for the Canadian Federation of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. It is a privilege to be involved with the Patient Voices Network and indeed the work on the Patient Council.
Jodi Gray (Vancouver)
Jodi has business experience and a passion for helping others. After spending over 20 years working in accounting and administration, she had to leave it behind for medical reasons. Now she pursues what she considers more gratifying work. She is on the board of Citizens for Accessible Neighborhoods and the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre and volunteers with several mental health organizations. Jodi is also a peer researcher working on a community-based research study to improve mental healthcare for gender nonconforming people.
Ken Biron (Prince George)
My name is Ken Biron, and I live Prince George. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 and a mental health condition around 2003. I have been a Patient Voices Network “Activated Patient” since 2006/07. I am also the facilitator for the Prince George Multiple Sclerosis Self Help Support Group, which brings together MS-afflicted people, the MS Clinic and the MS Society of Canada’s “local” chapter. I also work part time for the Handy Circle Resources Society which is an information and resource centre for all persons with a disability in Prince George. I have a diverse collection of skill sets that MS has not affected yet, including my voice.
I originally joined Northern Health to help study smoking cessation tools. It was a positive start of the changing health care I found as I grew wiser in my own life with my condition of MS. With the Patient Voices Network, I have been involved with Northern Health groups concerned with Emergency Room efficiency, changing and creating official health department communication to patients (pamphlets and brochures), provincial opportunities such as the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council Quality Forum, and provincial networking gatherings held by Impact BC.
In the past, I was involved with Northern Health project creating policy for the inclusion of family-centred care teams in northern BC working towards the health of all BC patients from birth to death. I joined the Patient Council in June 2018 to hopefully influence further the positive health changes reflected through the community of shared connections provincially, with a focused group of like-minded professionals.
Kent Cadogan Loftsgard (Vancouver)
Kent has been a Patient Partner to the BC SUPPORT Unit since the summer of 2016. In addition to his lifelong cerebral palsy and asthma, as well as his endless efforts as a patient advocate and caregiver, Kent contributes his diverse professional expertise in health media production, health specialty journalism, interdisciplinary health care education, and health research to complement the collaborative development and growth of the Unit.
Laurel Radley (Vancouver)
Laurel is the patient/citizen member of the BC SUPPORT Unit Interim Governing Council. She is a long-time member of both the BC Patient Voices Network and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Community Engagement Advisory Network. In addition to being on the Patient Council, Laurel is a long-time member of both the BC Patient Voices Network and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Community Engagement Advisory Network.
Lisa Ridgway (Victoria)
Lisa Ridgway is a patient partner and a lawyer. After completing a law degree at the University of British Columbia and 15 years of wearing a suit and heels, she became an advocate for patient-oriented research and mental health issues. Lisa co-leads a patient-led research project and collaborates with the University of Victoria, Island Health, the BC SUPPORT Unit and Patient Voices Network. She's on Twitter at @LisaRidgway8.
Lise Berube (Victoria)
Lise has worked for Island Health since 2014 when she began working on the development of the electronic health records system, before moving over to the position of Case Manager with the Patient Care Quality Office. She now works as a Patient Safety Consultant in Island Health's Quality, Safety and Improvement Portfolio. Lise has a background in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution from the University of Victoria. Lise was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2016 at the age of 34 and underwent a year of chemotherapy, radiation and several surgeries, and was later re-diagnosis with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in early 2019. Lise has used her vast experience as a patient in BC to inform sustainable positive changes to the health care system and has been involved in research projects focused on the unique challenges faced by young adults with cancer. She is also a member of the BC Cancer Victoria Regional Patient Experience Committee and continues to work part time for Island Health between ongoing chemotherapy and raising her two young children. Lise enjoys spending time in the outdoors, running, camping, and hiking with her family.
Margaret MacDonald (New Westminster)
My academic background is in sociology/social psychology. My career in social services included working in public health, corrections and child welfare in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I retired as CEO of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba. Subsequently I became a member of the Board of Brandon Regional Health Authority, becoming Chair one year later. I continued as Chair through a series of amalgamations, stepping down prior to my move to New Westminster in 2016.
In the interim I became involved with the Manitoba Institute of Patient Safety as a volunteer and member of the Patient Advisory Committee. At the personal level, I lost both parents, my only sibling, and most recently my husband, all to cancer. I have a strong interest in promoting patient safety.
Having become interested in palliative care, I currently serve on the Board of Crossroads Hospice Society. I also volunteer with Battered Women’s Support Services on a casual basis at My Sister’s Closet.
I am very impressed with the focus of the BC SUPPORT Unit and look forward to participating as a member of the Patient Council.
Megan O’Reilly (Castlegar)
Megan is currently completing a degree in rural pre-medicine and aspires to continue her education, allowing her to be a rural family physician. In addition to being a patient partner on the BC SUPPORT Unit’s Patient Council, Megan is also a member of the Oversight and Advisory Committee that guides, supports and co-designs the Patient Voices Network. She also volunteers her time as a rural e-Mentor with Rural Education Action Plan and the University of British Columbia and has previously been a peer health mentor in Vancouver Island high schools. Being passionate about patient-centered care has led Megan to be an active volunteer where she devotes her time advocating for the importance of patient-centered care within the healthcare system.
Paul Burgener (Nelson)
Paul is a professional engineer with a degree in materials and extensive experience in instrumentation design and analytical chemistry. He has owned and sold three companies as well as generating eight other spin-off companies. He was a consultant for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and his work took him to Kenya, Cyprus, Europe, the USA and the Ivory Coast. In 2000, Paul joined the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). During his time with IRAP, he worked with over 400 companies, universities and colleges and technology accelerator/incubator centers. He retired from IRAP in 2012. He returned to live in Nelson where he provides business and technical consulting. Paul became a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) in 2009. He now provides consulting in change management, strategy and commercialization of technology as well as reviewing funding proposals for companies and agencies. He has extensive experience on boards and committees. Currently he is a member of the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology board of directors. As a volunteer, he joined Patient Voices Network which led to becoming the co-chair for the Interior Patient Engagement in Research (PEiR) Committee and a member of several other committees including the Primary Care Community Transformation (PCCT) committee and the Interior Health Authority Research Advisory Council.
Rich Sobel (Port Moody)
My name is Rich Sobel and I am a semi-retired senior citizen. I have a PhD in cell and molecular biology from Syracuse University and did molecular research on prostate cancer for over 7 years before moving into the fields of project management and ultimately, grant facilitation. As a research facilitator for the Child and Family Research Institute, I helped numerous healthcare researchers attain funding for their research on childhood maladies. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and opted to have my prostate removed. Testing since then has not revealed any signs of cancer recurrence so I view myself as a survivor who may yet recur at some unknown point in the future and I am thankful for whatever time I have left. The past few years I have been working part time with a start-up biomedical diagnostics company, Fusion Genomics, as their Director of Communications and Government Relations. My hobbies and personal interests include playing and composing traditional fiddle and mandolin music, running, hiking, photography and Tai chi. I am also a long-time Buddhist meditation practitioner. The Patient Council BC SUPPORT participation will be my second patient partner position.
Rita Wiebe (Prince George)
As a patient and family partner, Rita brings her many years of outreach, marketing and media relations to the table. Rita joined Patient Voices Network close to ten years ago and remembers being thrilled about an emerging support system that actually advocated for patients to be accountable for their own health. Rita has a special passion around overall health and wellness for the forty-five plus demographic. She says that “these vehicles we call bodies have got to last many years”. She is a strong advocate for integrative or preventative health, with the best time to start developing healthy habits being before acute health care needs develop. She is inspired by citizen science in all its forms and grateful that governing bodies are becoming willing to incorporate real lived experience into the health care equation. Rita has worked for various organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sector ranging from holistic health to industry in areas of marketing, advertising, media relations, fundraising, business to business sales, event management, life skill workshops and more. Rita resides primarily in the northern region and occasionally in the interior of the province.
Sarah Fletcher (Vancouver)
I am currently a second-year medical student at UBC, and previously studied health sciences at the University of Calgary. Over the past several years, I have been involved as a youth advisor on both health care and health research councils, including the KidsCan research initiative at BC Children’s Hospital, the Child and Youth Advisory Council at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the ConnectCare Clinical Information System project in Alberta, and the International Children’s Advisory Network. I am also passionate about the inclusion of children with special needs in recreational activities and have volunteered and worked for several thousand hours in this field. In my ever-diminishing free time, I enjoy reading and listening to audiobooks, eating sushi with friends, and spending time with my family and our two dogs, Dexter and Louis.
Sherri Mytopher (Fort St. John)
Sherri has been working in the financial services industry for 16 years and is currently on the Board of Directors with the Northern Regional Chapter of the MS Society of Canada. Being diagnosed with MS so young, she felt it was important to have her voice heard and bring awareness about MS to her community.
She is passionate about being a part of heath research and making the health care system better for everyone.
Sherri enjoys volunteering, traveling, attending sporting events with her husband and being an advocate for people living with MS.
Sunny Loo (Sooke)
Sunny is a volunteer with the Patients as Partners/Patient Voice Network. A pharmacist by training with a focus on technology and innovations, Sunny’s 35 years in the profession included development of innovative patient support programs, implementation of medication management pilot programs in several provincial jurisdictions, and participation in the Ontario e-Health initiative as Director of e-Health for the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Currently Sunny and his wife operate a consulting practice that strives to better understand physician practices.
However, most importantly, Sunny is a patient living with a rare form of vasculitis (Wegener’s Granulomatosis) for the past 10 years. Having been a part of the health care system as both a professional and as a patient, he looks forward to sharing his experience with others.
Swapnil Shah (Surrey)
As a software engineer, I have worked within the health care industry for several years. After navigating the health care system for conditions like diabetes and gout, I decided to become a patient partner with the BC SUPPORT Unit Fraser Center. I am a patient partner with the South Asian Health Research Collaborative (SAHRC) where our vision is to partner with the South Asian community to build engagement in health research. We have collaborated with Fraser Health, BC SUPPORT Unit, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia and University of Fraser Valley to conduct a 10-minute survey to help us identify health issues that are important to the community. I have been the patient partner in workshops given by the Fraser Centre related to patient and stakeholder engagement and have also participated in the UBC study for the development of Patient Engagement in Research (PEIRS) Scale, a tool to evaluate patient engagement. I have also participated in a video made by SPOR to encourage patient partnership in research.