Calgary Health Trust

Medicine Minute - Dani Smith, Clinical Project Manager

Kristin McVeigh | October 01, 2019

At Calgary Health Trust, we are proud to champion innovative and transformational health care so the people in our community receive the best possible care when they need it most.

We are profiling local health care professionals behind many inspiring projects in medicine and patient care to celebrate the significant impact of their endeavors on the lives of Calgarians. These health care professionals are passionate, innovative, and inspirational leaders in Calgary medicine with unique stories to share about the different ways they are making a difference in health care. Thank you to the amazing donors who have supported these projects. None of this would be possible without their generous support. 


We are delighted to introduce you to Dani Smith, the Clinical Project Manager at Foothills Medical Centre’s (FMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). One of her roles is working as the staff liaison with the FMC NICU Parent Advisory Council Team (PACT) to take feedback from previous NICU families and create even better experiences for future tiny patients and their loved ones.

Please describe the parent advisory council at Foothills Medical Centre and your contribution to this group.

The Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Parent Advisory Council Team (PACT) is a formal group of registered volunteer family members who have rich and diverse experiences using the services in the FMC NICU.  We currently have 23 active members. Their purpose is to work with the FMC NICU team to provide family voices on our NICU environment, processes and delivery of care through various engagement requests and consultations. The NICU PACT’s mission is “Enhancing Family Centered Care from our lived experience & empowering families in their NICU journey,” and their vision is “Supported families. Improved experience. Better outcomes. Strong babies.”

My role with the FMC NICU PACT is as an AHS staff liaison. This means that I am the dedicated staff member who acts as the liaison between the advisor team and the NICU team. I am the primary “go-to” and support person for our advisors, building and maintaining strong relationships with them while facilitating the engagement process.  I take their feedback and ideas and do my best to make the changes necessary in our NICU environment & processes to make our services reflect what really matters to families.

What inspired you to work in this field and take on this council?

My background is nursing and I worked here, in the FMC NICU, for about 7 years before moving into this newly created position of Clinical Project Manager.  One of the roles of being the Clinical Project Manager is supporting PACT. I have always loved helping patients and families and I feel incredibly grateful to now work with these families in this new capacity making our NICU even better for them.

How will this group have a positive impact on families at Foothills Medical Centre?

These Advisors have been very brave in sharing their experiences, journey and feedback that is shaping changes in our NICU that benefits the future families walking through our NICU doors.  Their feedback has already brought about some positive change that improves the NICU journey for current families- family mentors are now available as a resource, our hallway is a lot brighter and hopeful, research is more easily, and quality improvement metrics will be displayed in a meaningful way for families. Additionally, their recommendations will be at the heart of the NICU expansion and renovations. Part of our NICU team’s mission is supporting families, but without their (PACT) voice to guide our services, environment and practices, we can’t be certain that what we do actually matters and is helpful to them. They are the core of our business and we are working to get back to that.

Describe your most rewarding memory working with the Parent Advisory Council.

Working with the FMC NICU PACT is one of the best parts of my job and one of the most fulfilling. I have had many rewarding experiences with them but one that stands out is being able to bring their vision to life for our main NICU hallway and front doors. Bringing back the Wall of hope was a must for this project and I wanted to honor PACTs work and role in this so when I surprised them by saying that their NICU graduates would be the first to be featured on The Wall of Hope, they were all so shocked but grateful. Seeing the finalized product and all the graduates on the wall all brought everyone to tears – PACT, me, NICU staff and current families. I will never forget that day.

How will donor contributions to the NICU have a positive impact on your work?

Most of our donor contributions are currently going towards our NICU expansion with which our PACT members are involved. As our operational budget is tight and we are primarily focused on direct patient care, it is immensely impactful to have donor contributions that support the initiatives that families find valuable and necessary to their journey. There is a need to build a stronger Calgary NICU community network but, as the acute site, it is very difficult for us to do this on our own. As we are constantly trying to be creative in our approach to expanding a community for NICU patients and families, donor support makes this process exceptionally easier, and therefore we have the capacity to offer more resources to patients and families.


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