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Expert hematologist leaves lasting legacy of compassionate care

Dr. Saidenberg is holding a "Hello My name is" poster

By introducing #HelloMyNameIs to The Ottawa Hospital, Dr. Saidenberg helped break down barriers and provide more compassionate patient care. We proudly continue this campaign in her honour.

When Dr. Elianna Saidenberg passed away on Sunday, October 20, 2019, after a long battle with cancer, The Ottawa Hospital lost a dear friend and an extraordinary medical professional. But her exceptional work and spirit leave a lasting legacy that our patients, staff and students continue to benefit from.

Dr. Saidenberg joined The Ottawa Hospital in 2010 as a clinical and laboratory hematologist. She was an expert at hematopathology and transfusion medicine, and she enthusiastically shared her impressive knowledge, as an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Saidenberg was also the driving force behind The Ottawa Hospital’s #HelloMyNameIs campaign.

The international #HelloMyNameIs campaign encourages health-care providers to introduce themselves to every patient, every time. Since its start in May 2017, hundreds of staff and volunteers have shown their support by taking the pledge and being photographed with the #HelloMyNameIs speech bubble.

“She lived a life full of love for her family and friends, engagement with the world and her community, and passion for her work.”

Dr. Debra Bournes, Chief Nursing Executive and Vice-President, Clinical Programs, worked with Dr. Saidenberg on the Patient and Family Experience Steering Committee. She recalled the determination with which Dr. Saidenberg brought the campaign to The Ottawa Hospital.

“She made us see the difference #HelloMyNameIs could make,” said Dr. Bournes. “If she was committed to something, she was a force and you didn’t get in her way.”

Dr. Saidenberg’s cancer diagnosis only deepened her empathy for patients. After experiencing firsthand what can make people more comfortable while receiving medical care, she championed the Patient Urgent Needs Fund, which helps eligible patients access necessary non-medical items, like toiletries.

“This fund is a testament to Elianna’s compassion and empathy… and her determination to fix the world,” said Dr. Daniel Peters, Division Head, Plastic Surgery. “She saw the patient as a person with fears, anxieties and apprehensions, embarking on a scary journey… and she sought to make that transition slightly less painful.” In her honour, Dr. Peters helped ensure that the fund was renamed the Dr. Elianna Saidenberg Patient Urgent Needs Fund.

Dr. Saidenberg’s time with us was much too short. Yet she used it to make a remarkable difference to countless people.

“She lived a life full of love for her family and friends, engagement with the world and her community, and passion for her work,” said Dr. Peters. “In many ways, she lived a life to which many of us aspire.”


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