Dialogue Volume 14 Issue 1 2018 - Page 18

COUNCIL AWARD a new formulary that allowed for efficient and effective resource utilization. When the Supreme Court overturned the prohibition on MAID, Trillium, like all hospitals, undertook the task of determining the principles, protocols and procedures needed to respond to patients’ requests for a medically assisted death. Dr. Wong led this effort as the Co-chair of Trillium’s Assistance in Dying Working Group (along with hospital ethicist, Dianne Godkin) and brought the project to a place in which the final policy received near unanimous approval across the hospital. Dr. Morra says that Dr. Wong “embodies clinical excellence, conduct becoming a physician and genuine human goodness. He is a quiet and warm-natured man who is humble, compassionate and deeply approachable. His belief in people and their rights is witnessed in every interaction he has with everyone he encounters.” We recently spoke to Dr. Wong about his life and work: Tell us about your childhood. I had what some might say was an unusual childhood be- cause, in addition to mom and dad and my siblings, my aunt, uncle and their children lived in the same house. In essence, I had two sets of parents and eight brothers and sisters! It was a great way to grow up because we were our own little community and my best friends were my siblings and cousins. Growing up with so many people taught me lessons that have stood me well throughout my life: tolerance, respect for differences and a sense of community. Is it true that medicine was not your first career choice? Yes. I actually spent my first year of university studying architecture. I had a keen interest in the field, as did my cousin, and he and I went to architecture school together. However, after a year of study, I came to believe that I didn’t quite have the same level of artistry as other stu- dents in my class. I used to marvel at their presentations and designs, and I knew I did not have their flair. So, the 18 DIALOGUE ISSUE 1, 2018 following year I moved on to my next interest, which was medicine. When did you start to take an interest in hospital systems and patient outcomes? I did my fellowship in cardiac anesthesia at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and I was very lucky to be mentored there by Drs. Richard McLean and Jean-Paul Koch in the Cardiac ICU. They taught me what patient care could be in the context of the way we organized the unit to maximize patient outcomes. My experience at Sunnybrook got me thinking more broadly about how system decisions made at various levels of a hospital can have a direct impact on patient outcomes. I was also strongly influenced by Dr. Gerald Edelist, the past Chair of the University of Toronto’s anesthesiology department. Why did you choose to co-chair the Assistance in Dying Working Group? I felt that my experience as an anesthesiologist in the Cardiac ICU brought an understanding of some of the issues and complexities with MAID. I often have to help families through some difficult times, especially when a patient isn’t doing well. I found, over the years, that one of the most important things in these situations is good communication. Patients can be in the unit for weeks or months and it helps them and their families when you take the time to talk to them, say hello and simply get to know them as people. And then, if it gets to that time where they have to hear bad news or make tough decisions, you’ve already set a foundation of trust that can help them. I wanted to bring that perspective to the discussions. I should also add that my son, Mathieu influenced my decision to get involved when he shared with me his experiences working with the Quality Dying Initiative at Sunnybrook. What do you do to relax? I love spending time with my family. My wife Kathy and I have three grown sons and now that we have two grand- children, it’s even more fun spending time together. MD