Headshot of author Sue Robins, book cover of bird's eye view

This month, Sinai Health hosted a special Grand Rounds featuring author Sue Robins. Organized by Drs. Robert Maunder and John Hunter, the Department of Psychiatry as well as the University of Toronto’s Medical Psychiatry Alliance, the event was part book reading and part social commentary. It showcased how understanding the patient perspective ensures high-quality, safe and compassionate care.

Sue Robins speaking at Mount Sinai’s auditorium

Author Sue Robins speaks to Mount Sinai’s auditorium

At the intimate talk featuring her book Bird’s Eye View, Sue shared her experiences as a mother to a teenager with Down syndrome and as a breast cancer survivor. She says that one of the only things that helped her feel better during difficult periods of her life was tenderness, “A nice comment or a pat on the shoulder was like salve for my wounds.”

“If a doctor had asked me how to make my cancer treatment smoother, I would’ve said to send me to someone kind,” said Sue, stressing the power of asking patients about themselves in fostering understanding and enriching care. “I grew up in an unkind childhood. Being a patient made me feel like a six year girl again and having people be cold made me feel even smaller.” 

Lily Yang, Senior Director, Quality and Patient Experience agrees that it’s essential to have speakers like Sue share their insights. “At Sinai Health, one of our Quality Aims is to improve patient experience through engagement. Hearing stories like Sue’s brings to life the people at the centre of our care and makes clear the importance of compassion and empathy.”

Sue hopes that the takeaway for those working in health care is that humanity doesn’t have to come at the cost of efficiency. “Hanging an IV drip with a smile takes the same amount of time as a frown,” she concluded.