This week is Community Health and Wellbeing Week – as an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of local residents it’s an important one for us to celebrate along with our four Waterloo-Wellington Community Health Centres
As part of this week’s celebration, I had the opportunity to visit Langs Community Health Centre in Cambridge to participate in a story circle.
We sat there somewhat nervously – a group of patients, board members and a colleague of mine. We were asked to share what Langs meant to us. To actively listen and connect with one another through our stories. Some came with notes, some more comfortable sharing than others. The circle was expertly facilitated by a Langs Board Member who has a gift for storytelling and putting others at ease.
Once we started, the feeling in the room shifted and we became like old friends reminiscing, rather than strangers meeting for the first time. I was struck by the bravery and authenticity of the participants and even more struck by their stories. We had all come from different places, had all faced different challenges, and yet all shared connections with the heroes in local health care and how they had impacted our lives.
This is the power of storytelling. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do – we are all patients and we all have a story. My goal as the CEO of the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network is to make more of our health stories positive ones. It’s a goal that is shared by many of the health professionals working in our community and was clearly demonstrated by the staff at Langs during my visit.
Following the story circle, one of the participants invited me to join him for his doctor’s appointment. There, I witnessed first-hand the positive difference that comprehensive primary care makes. The doctor took the time to discuss not only his patient’s medical concerns, but the other factors in his life that influence health (things like income and social supports). This is so important to improving overall health and for this patient, this holistic approach has rebuilt his trust in health care.
Thank you to Langs for inviting me to participate – it’s a real reminder of why I do what I do – and thank you for everything you do to improve the health and well-being of our local community.