Kingston Health Sciences Centre patient leader Kate Griffin wins national award from Children’s Healthcare Canada

News / General
By Maclaine Clark

Local teacher and longtime children’s health advocate honoured for contributions to NICU community

Children’s Healthcare Canada has named Kingston’s own Kate Griffin as the winner of the 2020 Patient and Family Leadership award in recognition of her dedication to improving the patient and family experience for those accessing pediatric health care in Canada.

Griffin has been a member of the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) community for more than 10 years as a veteran parent advisor, donor, and community champion for families of premature infants.

Her contributions to KHSC began as many do, after a first-hand experience in the hospital. Following a complicated course of care in the KHSC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Kate and her husband, Brandon Griffin, unfortunately experienced the tragic loss of one of their premature twin boys. Their other son fought through many critical periods and is now a healthy 10-year-old boy. It would be understandable for a family to distance themselves from a memory like this, but she drew from the experience to establish many useful initiatives and support families through their own NICU journeys.

“Kate's nomination came as no surprise,” says Emily Gruenwoldt, president and CEO of Children’s Healthcare Canada. “Her dedication and leadership have ensured that families have been supported not only during their hospital stay but also post-discharge. This has had a huge impact on the community.”

Kate and Brandon were one of the inaugural families in the veteran parent program, offering support to a broad range of families undergoing care in the NICU. Kate also founded the Kingston Mighty Preemies, a Facebook community offering a place for families to stay connected after their discharge from the hospital and share the joys and challenges that they have experienced as parents of premature infants.

“I’ve learned that it’s really important to have support when you are going through something traumatic like having an infant in the NICU,” Griffin says. “We are lucky enough to have friends and family in Kingston help us through our time, but not every parent has that. By building this community we are able to offer that support for anyone who needs it while they are in the hospital, or even years later.”

The Griffins have also given back to the hospital through their involvement as organizers and spokespeople for many community fundraisers benefitting the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF), including the annual Smile Cookie Campaign. Kate and Brandon actively work to model philanthropic values for their children, Colton, 10; and Sloan, eight, who host their own fundraisers like skating parties and lemonade stands.

“Kate and her family have become inspirational leaders in our community,” says Lori Faggiani, director of annual programs at UHKF. “The Griffin family goes above and beyond to help support health care, especially in our NICU.”

In addition to supporting fellow parents and giving back to the hospital, Griffin shares her story with medical students during their undergraduate training. This highly emotional session facilitates an important discussion regarding prognosis, family values and shared decision making for the next generation of physicians.

“The contributions of Kate and her family are truly immeasurable,” says Dr. Bob Connelly, program medical director of Pediatrics at KHSC. “She is a tireless champion for our program in so many ways, and is well deserving of this prestigious award.”