Concerns about the health-care system? Help is a call or email away.

By Wendy Singleton
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Whether we’re trying to get a quick answer to a simple question, share a concern, or just looking for an opportunity to provide some constructive feedback, most of us have run into a large organization that just doesn’t seem to care about what we have to say. 

It’s at those times – as we fight our way through telephone prompts, voice mail jail, or are asked to fill out yet another form – that we ask ourselves, “Why can’t this be as simple as talking with a real person?”

The good news is, it can be.

If you have questions, concerns, criticisms, or suggestions or about the health-care system, or want to talk about your experience as a patient, client, resident or family member, the opportunity to speak with a real-life human being is just a call or email away.

I know, because I am that human. My name is Wendy, and I’m here to listen.

As leader of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Client Relations team, I know that every call or email we receive is important and, along with my colleague, Sharon, will make sure that it receives individual attention from a someone identifiable. We make each interaction our focus. 

Officially speaking, Client Relations manages feedback from the public and “supports Regional programs and sites in their efforts to promote and achieve high quality care and service, evidence-informed decision making and provide key information to facilitate effective knowledge management.”

That’s a fancy way of saying that we listen to you, try our best to get you the answers or information you need, and pass along your feedback to leaders, sites and programs in the WRHA so that they can improve how they work for you.

Can it really be that simple? Yes, it can. Whether your concerns are related to individual care, health-care policies, quality, or navigation-related questions about who you need to speak to or where you need to go for care, we’re committed to finding the answers, or putting you in contact with those who can. Often, we enlist the support of Patient Relations teams situated at the WRHA’s acute care facilities, who are well-placed to speak directly with your to care team, access your chart, and act as a liaison and support for you.

The majority of calls to Client Relations receive a respond on the same business day. Where it takes us longer to gather the information we need, we will stay in touch with you throughout that process. We’re committed to being accessible, transparent and fair. Our process will be well-communicated in terms of letting you know about the next steps we’ll be taking to move your concern or feedback forward.

Of course, we’re not perfect, and our expertise doesn’t cover every contingency. Your questions about specific health concerns, for instance, should be directed to your physician or to Health Links – Info Santé, a provincial call-in service offering health information, symptom assessment, triage, care advice and education. But for just about any other question or concern related to the health-care system, we encourage you to give us a call or send us an email.

There are a number of reasons I feel the work we do is important. First off, the health care system is large and complex, and we know that you can’t possibly be expected to be an expert in navigating its many parts. It’s not uncommon for people to feel “stuck” in various pieces of system and to need some information on the next steps to get their needs addressed. We can help.

More importantly, your questions and feedback can not only help us improve how the health-care system works for you, but for all of us. It’s one of the richest sources of information we have to help make meaningful changes where things aren’t working as well as they should.

We listen because we know it’s important to do so, and it’s not only us who is paying attention. I’ve been in this job since 2009, and I can tell you that Client Relations has the ear of everyone in the WRHA, from direct service workers to our new Chief Executive Officer.

So, any time you have a question about health care, policy issues, or something else that you may be wondering about or keeping you up at night, call us and let us help you.

We can be reached by calling 204-926-7825, or by e-mail at ClientRelations@wrha.mb.ca.

Wendy Singleton is Manager, Client Relations & Engagement with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

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