Sports & Health

Oak Valley Health’s people are rising to the occasion

Oak Valley Health has launched its Resilience in Stressful Events (RISE) program for its teams across the organization.

RISE offers confidential, anonymous, and timely peer support to Oak Valley Health staff, professional staff, and volunteers who have been affected by a stressful, patient-related event.

The program was originally developed and implemented at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has been successfully adopted by many other health care organizations. Oak Valley Health is the second health care organization in Canada to implement the RISE program, after Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie.

“The RISE program is an important piece of our recently launched 2023-2026 People Plan, helping us build a greater people-centred culture and support staff well-being,” says Jo-anne Marr, president and chief executive officer of Oak Valley Health. “The RISE program has been many months in the making, with extensive training for our peer responders, and I’m excited to see it come to life.”

At Oak Valley Health, volunteer peer responders are available via telephone from 3 to 8 p.m., seven days a week, to listen, offer emotional support, and provide information on available resources.

“This program attracted many of our most compassionate team members and they are here to listen, support and guide to resources,” says Vivian Yee, who manages the RISE program. “It is also designed to be completely anonymous so callers do not have to share their name or any details.”

The group of 24 peer responders is very diverse, representing Markham Stouffville Hospital, Uxbridge Hospital, and the Reactivation Care Centre. They are also a mix of frontline clinical, non-clinical, management, and volunteers, with an average of 11.4 years of service at Oak Valley Health.

“The RISE program allows for the individual that is seeking support to talk to someone who has a connection to them,” says Liz Price, patient care manager and RISE peer responder at Oak Valley Health. “The peer responders have direct experience within the health care system, and they can approach the situation as a peer and offer an ear to actively listen.”

Oak Valley Health offers several other wellness resources to staff, including access to staff and physician wellness leaders, access to spiritual care, and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).


Photo: Members of the RISE team at an information booth at Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital. (Story submitted by Alanna Sloan)


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