Annual General Meeting – an exhilarating week!

We are still under the spell of an exhilarating week of events around RNAO’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) – you can see all that happened here.

Early last week we released our dynamic Annual Report – let me brag a little bit because I know you haven’t seen an Annual Report like this before. It reflects the collective work of the association. Take a look here!

The efforts and achievements of RNs, NPs and nursing students, many of whom have been working day and night caring for people during the COVID-19 outbreak, was celebrated during the 95th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of RNAO, June 11 –June 13. The event, which is normally in-person and live-streamed, was held virtually this year in light of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has challenged nurses everywhere in ways we never anticipated or imagined. They’re nursing people with knowledge, compassion and courage while risking their lives. It is fitting that 2020 is the 
Year of the Nurse because people have always respected and trusted nurses and yet, this pandemic has highlighted the work of nurses and the central role we play in improving health, in building healthier communities, and in caring for the ill and suffering. 

RNAO has been 
front-and-centre during COVID-19, supporting our members, deploying health-care workers through VIANurse, providing updates for thousands of health-care workers at home and in many countries, publishing a prominent blog, profiling a massive presence in the media, organizing weekly webinars, participating in government decision-making tables, partnering with advocates for vulnerable populations, and engaging in direct policy discussions with officials. To top it off, we also launched a campaign to cheer up health workers and show that #TogetherWeCanDoIt. 

Our AGM was an exciting opportunity for the 43,408 members of our association ‒ RNs, NPs and nursing students ‒ to come together as a profession and to 
reflect on our successes in policy advocacy and our clinical work. Our voice and expertise has shaped the health system and provided direction on what more we must do to ensure it better reflects the needs of Ontarians. 

Despite RNAO’s enormous effort addressing the pandemic, we continued our work on evidence-based guidelines and evidence-based policy. We launched 
Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians (ECCO 3.0), released two major reports on long-term care, engaged support for struggling congregate homes, launched three new BPGs, continued our innovative work with Best Practice Spotlight Organization Ontario Health Teams (BPSO-OHT) and with all other BPSOs at home and around the world, and had a fulsome and remarkable Nursing Week in May. This is the type of association we are – an association that always thinks outwards and is always ahead of the curve on how to serve Ontarians and serve nurses and other health professionals. “You can say I am a very proud outgoing president. Yes, extremely proud,” lauded a joyful outgoing president Dr. Angela Cooper Brathwaite.   

One area where RNAO’s voice was and still is loud-and-clear is long-term care, a sector long neglected by successive governments and where the rapid fire spread of COVID-19 resulted in the untimely deaths of far too many residents. Last week, RNAO sent a submission to a government advisory group looking into staffing. The association says more funding is necessary to address a shortfall of regulated health professionals, along with a 
Basic Care Guarantee for all residents living in Ontario’s 626 nursing homes.

As we looked back during the AGM on the accomplishments of the past year and set new priorities for the coming year, RNAO’s AGM also welcomed incoming president 
Morgan Hoffarth. Hoffarth is a co-ordinator in the Medically Complex Service at St. Joseph’s Health Care in London. In addition to her experience in acute care, she has also worked in primary care.

“I look forward to being president of a united force of nursing leaders who have chosen to belong to their professional association because they know that RNAO’s voice is heard and that collectively we are making a difference in nursing, health and health care. In the midst of a pandemic and a flurry of other activity, we are now heading into a full virtual AGM,” said Morgan Hoffarth. “As difficult as these times are, nurses and RNAO have a lot to celebrate – and it is the right time to honour our members.” 

The three-day event kicked off with speeches from various politicians and honoured guests. 

Four Ontario long-term organizations received their designation as cohort D of RNAO’s Long-Term Care Best Practice Spotlight Organizations (LTC-BPSO) for their commitment to implementing the association’s evidence-based best practice guidelines to improve resident care. They include: Fiddick’s Nursing Home, Holland Christian Home Inc - Faith Manor, Markhaven Home for Seniors and Nipigon District Memorial Hospital.

In addition to hearing from political and stakeholder leaders, the association presented its annual 
Recognition Awards to 13 individual winners and three groups to honour the nursing contributions they have made in areas as practice, policy, research, administration and education. Journalists receiving awards for excellence in health-care reporting were recognized as RNAO handed out its annual Media Awards.

Visit our 
AGM portal for the full record of the events.

You can watch the videorecordings of the Opening Ceremony (Day 1) here, the full Day 2 here, and the Closing Keynote Panel (Day 3) here. If you only have time to watch one segment, I suggest you watch the Closing Keynote with Dr. Barbara Stillwell and Dr. Mary Wakefield (see bios here) – it was electrical.