Mary Ashcroft Take a Bow!

Mary Ashcroft
Celebrating a Team Player Extraordinaire!
Manitoba
October 18, 2019

“Mary Ashcroft, how can I help you?” This has been Mary's mantra for over 20 years, working as a palliative care coordinator for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Palliative Care Program. Sitting at her desk, answering her phone, her voice and expertise were an invaluable lifeline, comfort, and resource for countless patients, families,and colleagues.
 
After graduating from the University of Manitoba in 1984, Mary worked with the Victorian Order of Nurses as a district nurse (1984-89), hospital-based Home Care Referral Nurse (1989-95), and Riverview Health Centre's Palliative Care and Respiratory Care Home Care Case Coordinator (1995-99). From 1999 until her retirement Oct 31, 2019, she has become the ‘go-to' WRHA Palliative Care Program Coordinator.
 
We all looked forward to calling Mary to problem-solve a situation, she never hesitated to ask the tough questions, to push care planning to the next level, but also enjoy a chuckle - the caller always felt better by the end of the conversation. She also made time to quickly check in with the caller on a personal level, remembering details about her colleagues that others might easily overlook. Her style was consistent and rock solid - respectful, practical, timely and reliable. Remaining committed and curious in this critical nursing role she was always open to new information, approaches, services, and research aimed at improving the care and experience of the patients and families. Her expertise and common-sense approach were always grounded in the question of what is best for the patient and the family.
 
Over the years, Mary’s enduring sense of humour and easy laugh were a valued asset to the Palliative Care Program team. Her quick wit, creativity, and talent will be greatly missed at the program’s annual Palliative Care Skits Night - an important component of the team member’s self-care.
 
In 2016, Mary's skill, commitment, compassion, and outstanding contributions were recognized through the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba - Award of Excellence.
 
Two of Mary’s longtime palliative care team members reflect on her career:
 
Dr. Mike Harlos, recently retired Medical Director, WRHA Palliative Care Program shared:

“Throughout my years of working in palliative care in Winnipeg, Mary has been a strong support and advocate for patients and families in their most difficult times. I could always rely on her knowledge, experience, and instincts about what patients and families needed, and about what should be done to help. If something wasn’t going well for a patient, Mary would let you know. If you didn’t grasp the urgency of the situation, Mary would let you know. If she didn’t agree with you, well, you get the point. Mary’s departure will leave a huge gap with the WRHA Palliative Care Program however, she has earned this time for herself through many years of helping countless patients and families through very tough times. I am grateful for everything Mary has done for palliative care, and wish her all the best in her retirement.”
 
Fred Nelson, recently retired Social Worker, WRHA Palliative Care Program said:
 
“I think of Mary as the ultimate team player. She is a great combination of excellence in her work with individuals and families, often “going the extra mile;” and the skill and personality to form relationships with team members with an ability to work with anyone in getting done what needs to be done in a supportive way to all! Plus, she’s got a great sense of humour and is a heluva lot of fun to work with! Wishing Mary all the best as she heads out into the next chapter!!"
 
Mary Ashcroft, take a well-deserved bow for an outstanding career in community palliative care.
 
Our best wishes, from all those that love, admire, and will miss you in Manitoba!


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