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President & Chief Executive Officer, Trillium Health Centre

By: Erica Scime

Janet Davidson says the reason that she got into nursing was to help people. In 2007 Davidson was named president and CEO of Trillium Health Centre, one of Canada’s largest hospitals. Trillium is a two-site health centre with one site in Mississauga and the other in West Toronto. It has over 800 beds, 5000 staff, physicians and volunteers and is home to one of the largest ambulatory surgical centres in North America. Also an active Canadian Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteer, Davidson has gone on to help more people than she ever could have imagined.

After studying nursing at the Toronto East General Hospital, Davidson earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing at the University of Windsor before going on to achieve a masters in Health Services Administration at the University of Alberta.

Before joining Trillium, she was chief operating officer, Vancouver Acute, with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. Prior to that, Janet served as president and chief executive officer of Toronto East General Hospital. She has also served as Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Alberta, chief operating officer of Capital Health Authority in Edmonton and vice president of the University of Alberta Hospital.

In addition to her responsibilities at Trillium, she acted as interim president and CEO of the Kingston General Hospital from July to December 2008, while that hospital was under government supervision.

At Trillium, Davidson works tirelessly to not only improve the quality of care within her facilities, but also to improve access to care for patients in and out of the region. In fact, just earlier this year, it was announced that Trillium would be merging with the nearby Credit Valley Hospital. Their intent behind the merger is to improve patient care and access and reduce administrative overlap and duplication.

No front-line staff reductions will occur, but there will only be one board of directors and CEO, instead of two. An expert on regional health care, Davidson says that the merger will allow health care providers to take better care of patients. It is what she, and everyone else at Trillium and Credit Valley, got into health care to do, Davidson says.

But Davidson’s care for others does not stop at Trillium. She is also very involved with the International Red Cross / Red Crescent, and is currently honorary vice president of the Canadian Red Cross. Davidson started out caring for HIV/AIDS and malaria patients in Africa, working with victims of conflict in war-torn countries. She worked her way up to become president of the Canadian Red Cross, vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and finally vice chairman of the Standing Commission of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. After 30 years of service to the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Davidson was given the Order of the Red Cross. To Davidson, working with the Red Cross is as fulfilling as nursing or even as leading the Trillium Health Centre because they both allow her to give back in a profound way.

Davidson is a member of the Canadian College of Health Leaders, and serves on many boards including the Health Insurance Reciprocal of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and ECHO: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario. She was recently elected as chair of the board of the Ontario Hospital Association.

Among the many awards she has received, Davidson is an Officer of the Order of Canada for her international work with the Red Cross/Red Crescent and more locally for her efforts during SARS. She received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from the University of Windsor and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

It goes without saying that Davidson has likely helped more people than she ever intended. Her caring heart and untiring mind have made Janet Davidson a force for change in the lives of patients both at home and abroad.