Project Description

1987

Lorraine Melchior strives to build a community and a culture in Calgary that affords dignity and humanity to those who are sick, vulnerable or disadvantaged. As a nurse Lorraine advocated for patient-centred treatment that took a holistic view of the patient and family experience in the health care system, such as changes in the maternity area to allow families to be present at births and afterwards. “Even in what seems to be the smallest of things, like a telephone in a nurse’s office. There were none, so patients had to speak on phones out in the open areas instead of in privacy – something so simple but so important to people, to have privacy,” she says. She also put her career on the line in response to health care funding cuts in the 1990s, resigning from her senior leadership position as Director of Nursing at Foothills Hospital in protest. Lorraine continued share her vision for patient-centred health care in the classroom however, as an adjunct associate professor of Nursing at the U of C. In the community, her tireless volunteerism on behalf of Calgary’s homeless as the long-time Executive Director of the Calgary Urban Project Society is guided by a commitment to bring her talent and expertise to bear in service of those around her. “I developed, during graduate school, a philosophy of ‘servant leadership’ and I’ve incorporated it into my working life and personal life,” she says. “It is most important to listen to the people being served.” That approach has made her a powerful advocate for our community’s least fortunate, lending her voice to the challenges they face daily. “I fought for people who needed to be understood by those who were far more fortunate,” Lorraine says. “And I fought against the discrimination and barriers that keeps those who are in poverty from moving towards stability and prosperity.” “There are always challenges and frustrations,” she adds. “But you listen and face them and ask, ‘what can be done here?’”