Remembering Peter Jones: a dedicated health-care volunteer

April 27, 2022

When health-care teams involve people in conversations about their care, patients become partners in care, and care experiences improve. Patient partners are volunteers who support people and their families to access and navigate the health-care system.

At Interior Health, patient partners are valued. Many of our patient partners are also volunteers in our hospitals and health-care centres, and when we lose them, the loss is keenly felt by all.

Recently, we lost Peter Jones, a long-time volunteer at Kelowna General Hospital, a public member of IH’s Person and Family Centred Care Steering Committee, and a patient partner at the Patient Voices Network.

“When I shared the sad news that Peter Jones had passed away, there was a heavy sigh amongst the group,” says Karin Chand, Renal Services coordinator, who was anticipating working with Peter on a patient journey map for people with kidney health issues – the last event Peter had signed up for, but didn’t get to attend.

Peter was passionate about ensuring the public voice was heard in health care, and he left his fingerprints on many IH initiatives – a geriatric education working group, training for the Kelowna Seniors Health and Wellness Centre, and a review to make signage people-friendly instead of solely staff-focused, to name but a few.

He was a regular volunteer in emergency and intensive care at Kelowna General, beginning in February 2006 before “retiring” in August 2017, says Ken Zarr, KGH’s volunteer coordinator.

“Peter logged 5,200 hours over that time and was committed to volunteering. As a great trainer to our volunteers, his support was greatly appreciated. He played a big part for volunteering at KGH,” Ken says.

 Peter and his son in law James doing model railroading.
Peter with his son-in-law James, doing model railroading, which he loved in addition to volunteering. 

Even when challenged by his own health issues, Peter remained committed to his role as a public member of the Person and Family Centred Care Steering Committee and dedicated to finding ways to provide his thoughts and experience into shaping a better journey for those using the health-care system. His input was well respected, and committee members often looked to him for his thoughts during discussions.

“A lovely, talented and dedicated human who advocated for improvements to health care for all,” recalls Alison Gerlinger Dennis, the public member co-chair of the steering committee. “Peter was deeply appreciated by the members of the Person and Family Centred Care Steering Committee, and will be sorely missed. His contributions to the IH Family Presence Policy – which welcomed family presence and visitations 24/7 in all IH sites provided safety wasn’t compromised – were enormous and have helped all folks in our region.”

Adds James Coyle, IH co-chair of the PFCC SC: “Peter was always focused, thoughtful, professional and so pleasant to be around; he inspired me to work more deliberately with others and continue to ensure that patients are seen as a ‘whole person’ who are always at the centre of their care and decision making.”

James says that, even over the past two years, when the committee couldn’t meet in person due to COVID-19, Peter always showed up virtually at meetings and was prepared to keep moving the work forward.

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