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BC Health Care Hero – Denise Bradshaw

Congratulations to Denise Bradshaw for being named as PHSA’s Health Care Hero and the Provincial Health Care Hero by the Health Employers Association of BC!
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​Denise Bradshaw is a leader in bringing clients’ voices and needs to the design and delivery of care. With over 25 years of experience in health care, she has led in the design and delivery of programs and systems of care for vulnerable patients/clients with substance use issues to empower them to continue on a path to wellbeing. Her demonstrated commitment is an inspiration to colleagues and one of the many reasons why she is the recipient of the 2019 Provincial Health Care Hero and Health Care Hero Gold Apple (PHSA) awards. The BC Health Care Awards are presented by the Health Employers Association of BC.

Tell us about the work you do at PHSA.

My role at PHSA is the director of Provincial Health Initiatives at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. The major project I am leading is the Provincial Perinatal Substance Use Project. The main goal of the project is to develop a blueprint that will provide the foundation for a continuum of care for pregnant women and new mothers who use substances and their families throughout the province.

What does receiving these awards mean to you and for the work you do?

Receiving these awards is a great honour. I am humbled by the recognition as I know there are many other people doing amazing, thoughtful and complex work to improve the health of British Columbians. All the work that has gone into the initiatives I’ve been a part of is reflective of the extraordinary teams I have been blessed to work with. I have grown in my professional leadership and as a human being as a result of working “shoulder to shoulder” with women with lived and living experience, their families and their communities.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the people. The relationships I build with people with lived and living experience (patients, clients and families), health care professionals and leaders keeps me doing what I do best. I learn from all of these stakeholders and integrate this learning to design and implement programs and influence systems of care that best reflect the needs of our patients, clients and families.

How have you seen health care and the public discourse evolve related to substance use?

We are beginning the journey of addressing stigma for people who use substances. Achieving equitable access to health care for people who use substances drives me – I am passionate about this issue. At BC Women’s and BC Children’s we are moving in the right direction. Our focus in the Provincial Perinatal Substance Use Project on Indigenous Cultural Safety, trauma and violence informed practice, harm reduction and recovery oriented approaches will shift systems  and support people in understanding that substance use and substance dependence is a health care and social justice issue not a criminal issue.

Where do you see opportunities to improve/do things better?

We need to accept that we all have a role to play in terms of addressing the stigma associated with substance use and dependence in our society. We can be compassionate, non-judgemental, and respectful. We can listen better to people with lived and living experience and follow their lead in terms of what services and supports are required to meet their needs. 


Learn more about the BC Health Care Awards and the 2019 winners.

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