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Leading with compassion

As she enters retirement, Dianne Doyle reflects on the defining values of Providence Health Care.

Compassion is at the very core of everything Providence Health Care stands for. Whether it is St. Paul’s or Youville Residence, valuing compassion and human dignity permeates everything the organization does. It has been the defining priority for Dianne Doyle over the past 12 years as Providence’s president and CEO.

“That’s really part of our culture, our mission and values, from the clinicians, medical staff to researchers and right down to the frontline staff,” says Doyle, who retired from Providence this spring after 42 years, having started as an intensive-care nurse at St. Paul’s back in 1976. “During my time with Providence, we have managed to balance being a big provincial resource, while simultaneously addressing the health needs of the poorest, most vulnerable people in our province – something of which I’m extremely proud.”

Deborah Mitchell has worked alongside Doyle for several years and saw how her background as a caregiver helped shape her leadership style as the CEO of an organization with an operating budget approaching $1 billion a year. “It has been a true privilege to work with a values-based leader who is truly genuine, warm and always acts in the best interest of the organization,” says the acting vice-president, seniors care, organizational strategy and partnerships at Providence.

Mitchell goes on to cite how, early on in their working relationship, Doyle challenged the federal government, which wanted to ban the use of medically-prescribed heroin for some substance-use patients. With unwavering determination and perseverance, Doyle, along with Providence’s board of directors, went to bat for the organization’s most vulnerable patients. “Dianne wanted to make sure that our patients would have access to this evidence-based treatment,” says Mitchell. “It was a very courageous move on her part.”

As one of the largest Roman Catholic health care providers in Canada, Providence is internationally acclaimed for blending the best of evidence-based medicine with real patient-centeredness, performing medicine with patients as partners in care – as opposed to doing it to them. This holistic, patient-centered approach began with the Sisters of Providence back in 1894. Their unique approach to healing encompassed caring for the mind, body and spirit. That commitment never wavered under Doyle’s leadership and continues to guide Providence.

Shaping the future of health care

A tireless advocate for improving St. Paul’s aging infrastructure, Doyle departs having set the stage for a new St. Paul’s at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre at the Station Street location in the east False Creek Flats area of Vancouver. It’s a plan that will transform the way health care is delivered in British Columbia while staying true to the ideal of compassionate care. “This is such an exciting time in health care. The new St. Paul’s is a lifetime opportunity to transform and re-imagine how it should look,” says Doyle. “The design of the new buildings – along with our unique and exceptional culture of care – will enable novel approaches.”

The state-of-the-art hospital and health campus will offer a cohesive care model, both on the new site and in the broader community. It will combine the best in hospital-based services with a number of primary- care and community health services, such as in-home care for seniors and Telehealth (videoconferencing) to remote areas. “Telehealth will allow a more sustainable model of health care by treating people at home and in their communities,” adds Doyle.

A legacy cemented

Besides spending more time with loved ones and traveling a little more – most notably to visit her sister in Brisbane, Australia – Doyle hopes to stay connected with the work she loves best, in health and leadership.

“It has been a huge privilege to have served as CEO of this great organization, and I hope to continue to bring my passion for health care and Providence through volunteering on some boards,” she says. “I also plan to continue to share my experiences through public speaking.”

In addition, mentoring the next generation of female leaders, in all sectors of the workplace, is something that Doyle continues to hold close to her heart. “Giving back has always been important to me,” she says, adding that she has a desire to work in an African orphanage for children afflicted with HIV/AIDS. The Providence team knows that whatever path Doyle takes, she will excel at it.

See this story in St. Paul’s Foundation’s Promise Magazine: Spring/Summer 2018