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Featuring Brenda Vollmer for International Women's Day

Tell us about yourself and role with the KW4 OHT?

Photo of Brenda Vollmer

Brenda is the Director of Project Management and Project Supports, and brings nearly 25 years of experience in health system strategy, planning, transformation, quality improvement, performance, and project management. Brenda holds a Business Management Diploma from Conestoga College, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Prior to joining the KW4 OHT, Brenda had the privilege of working in various strategic planning, project management, and operational leadership roles at Grand River Hospital for over 20 years.

As a member of the KW4 OHT, Brenda's role is to help make the Ontario Health Team (OHT) vision a reality. She is fortunate that Grand River Hospital, one of KW4 OHT's members, has allowed her to dedicate her time to the work of the KW4 OHT.

What do you like best about your job?

Brenda is driven by her passion for partnering to improve the patient, family and caregiver experience through innovative solutions. She finds it rewarding to use both qualitative and quantitative data, as well as best evidence, to inform their planning and evaluation of initiatives, which helps to ensure that KW4 OHT is making a positive impact on health outcomes.

One aspect Brenda likes most about her job is that KW4 OHT takes a broader view of health, considering social determinants. She believes that this is essential if they are to take a population health approach to their work. Brenda is proud to work alongside many healthcare organizations as well as the City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo, University of Waterloo, settlement agencies, social service agencies, and others. This collaborative approach is fundamental to their success in improving the health and well-being of the community they serve.

What are some distinctive data-related features of the OHT?

Brenda shared that KW4 region is growing almost at double the rate of Ontario and Canada. Specifically, KW4 had a population of 438,067 in 2021, which represents a 10.9% growth rate over the last 5 years, compared to a 5.8% provincial growth rate and a 5.2% federal growth rate.

One of the unique features of KW4 is its high proportion of immigrants, who account for 26% of the total population in the region. Recent immigrants, in particular, account for 5.3% of the population, and they make up more than half (55%) of the 43,048 individuals who joined the region's population between 2016 and 2021. This data is essential to the KW4 OHT's work because it helps us understand the unique healthcare needs of this diverse population and tailor their initiatives accordingly.

What was your first impression of the KW4 OHT? How has your journey been with the KW4 OHT?

Brenda has been with the KW4 OHT since 2019, when she joined the 31 organizations that had come together to form a new model of integrated care delivery with the community. Her initial impression was that it was a massive undertaking to rally around a common vision with 31 unique organizations. However, she soon realized that they had been working collaboratively together for years and all had the same vision of creating a community where everyone thrives and no one is left behind. Despite the challenges of fragmented care and navigation, the organizations were committed to working together to address these challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic hit, and despite not being approved as an OHT, every organization stepped up and rallied together to ensure the safety of both staff and the community. The KW4 OHT was approved by the Ministry of Health in October 2020 and now has over 40 members who continue on their journey to maturity.

What is your favourite thing about the region?

Brenda's favourite part about Waterloo Region is its unique blend of urban and rural geographies. Having been born and raised in the region, she feels privileged to still call it home. Brenda also loves the region's innovative community, which includes both established and start-up tech companies as well as renowned education facilities. The community's barn-raising spirit is another aspect that she appreciates, as it comes together in times of need.

What do you hope to see in the near future of KW4 OHT?

Looking to the near future of KW4 OHT, there are three priority projects currently underway: the Neighbourhood Integrated Care Team Project, Newcomer App Project, and Primary Care Integration and Governance Project. The hope is that with the collaboration of partners and the engagement and co-design of the community, these projects will be implemented successfully and have a positive impact. Brenda expressed her inspiration and passion for the direction KW4 OHT is heading and is looking forward to the future.


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