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Maureen Charlebois: a visionary leader shaping the future of health care

Bayshore HealthCare’s chief nurse embodies spirit of National Nursing Week

By Michelle Ramos
May 8, 2024
Skyler Huang, Multimedia Coordinator at Bayshore HealthCare
“The beauty of nursing extends beyond the simple act of healing bodies — it’s about reaching out and touching lives, making a difference,” says Maureen Charlebois, chief nursing and clinical officer at Bayshore HealthCare.

Maureen Charlebois, a formidable powerhouse in the health-care sector, hails from Toronto. Since 2020, she’s held the pivotal role of chief nursing and clinical officer at Bayshore HealthCare, standing at the forefront of home and community health-care services nationwide.

Boasting an impressive 34 years of leadership in health care, her influence resonates across organizational, provincial, and national echelons. Maureen’s profound expertise in nursing and clinical governance has indelibly shaped the Canadian health-care landscape, propelling its growth and innovation.

Embarking on the path to nursing

For Maureen, nursing is not just a profession — it’s a calling. It’s her means of channeling her innate desire to help others. “The demands and challenges of the profession are, paradoxically, its most rewarding aspects,” she reflects. “It pushes me beyond my comfort zone, promotes constant learning, and personal and professional growth.”

Maureen began her nursing journey in 1989 through the Registered Nursing Program at Centennial College. Her eagerness to continue learning led her to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree from Ryerson University (now the Toronto Metropolitan University), a master’s degree in health science from the University of Toronto, and a Certified Health Executive credential from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Maureen also completed the e-health program from Harvard University and the Rotman School of Management executive program.

Decades into her career, she still finds herself learning something new each day, a testament to the ever-evolving nature of the field. The perpetual acquisition of knowledge, coupled with the ability to make a tangible difference in people’s lives, fuels her passion and drives her forward.

"The beauty of nursing extends beyond the simple act of healing bodies — it’s about reaching out and touching lives, making a difference. It’s about compassion, understanding, and empathy. It’s about being there for people when they are at their most vulnerable, providing not just medical care, but emotional support as well,” says Maureen.

Lasting impact through authentic leadership

From hospitals to long-term care, from provincial to national roles, Maureen’s expertise is vast and extensive. From 1989 to 2019, Maureen has held various direct-care roles and executive and leadership positions in health-care organizations and consulting services across Canada. Her career includes roles such as director of operations, chief nursing executive, vice president quality, and chief information officer.

In 2023, she received the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) Leadership Award in Nursing Administration, which is given to a nurse who has demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities in their role, contributing significantly to the improvement of nursing practices and patient care.

Janis Klein, a colleague hired twice by Maureen — first at Markham Stouffville Hospital and later at Ross Memorial Hospital in a director role — considers Maureen a sincere and dependable leader. Maureen, in Klein’s eyes, is known for fostering a nurturing work environment. “She is committed to creating warm and supportive relationships in the workplace, creating a strong and shared belief in quality patient care,” Janis recalls. “She saw and believed in my capabilities and did what she could to support my growth and development.”

Maureen’s leadership philosophy is one that inspires and motivates. Her commitment to care, excellence, and her visionary approach instils a sense of purpose within her team. She champions a collaborative and innovative team dynamic, a trait that resonates deeply with her colleagues.

Janis fondly recollects an incident where Maureen’s commitment to being a present leader was on full display. Tasked with setting up a council with members of different professional teams, Janis noticed how Maureen, despite her hectic schedule as vice president, made it a point to attend each meeting. This, for Janis, was a true reflection of Maureen’s dedication and her unwavering commitment to be a visible and engaged leader.

Nursing leadership at Bayshore HealthCare

Maureen’s journey at Bayshore since 2020 has been nothing short of revolutionary. She led the COVID-19 pandemic strategy and embarked on a mission to evolve clinical programs, starting with wound care and venturing into infusion, palliative, and pediatric programs. Her vision was to set up centres for clinical excellence that adhered to high-quality evidence-based guidelines.

Her relentless efforts led to Bayshore being awarded the Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) designation for 2021-2025 from RNAO. This accolade is a testament to her efficacious knowledge translation strategy that enhances health outcomes on multiple levels — individual, organizational, and health system.

She proceeded to devise a quality management and patient engagement framework that embodied the goal for enhanced safety and quality. Concurrently, she spearheaded the development of an accreditation program that aligned with Accreditation Canada and ISO standards. Maureen also developed a privacy management program to stress the importance of health records management, ensuring the protection and safe handling of personal health information.

“Maureen’s passion for health-care innovation is truly inspiring. Her contributions have not only paved the way for Bayshore’s success but have also left an indelible mark on the broader Canadian health-care landscape,” says Stuart Cottrelle, president, Bayshore HealthCare. “Indeed, Maureen’s story is a powerful reminder of the impact of visionary leadership.”

Advocate for superior patient care and digital innovation

Maureen strongly believes in lifelong learning and uses her diverse experience to shape a healthier future, particularly for children. Currently, Maureen serves on the Children’s Healthcare Canada board of directors, a role that lets her use her extensive experience to advocate for children’s health. Before this, she collaborated with reputable institutions such as Digital Health Canada, the Canadian Virtual Health Library, HealthCareCAN, Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network (OPEN), and Accreditation Canada.

“Maureen is an advocate who constantly seeks improvement and growth. She’s driven by her natural curiosity and desire to support her peers. Her contributions foster the creation of integrated teams that collaborate to deliver quality service, drive innovation, and utilize digital enablers,” says Laura Salisbury, CEO of Nucleus Independent Living, who worked with Maureen at Markham Stouffville Hospital, the Ontario Ministry of Health, and on several projects. “As a transformational change agent, she tackles difficult challenges and advances clinical practice through digital implementations. Her leadership and ongoing aspirations for a better future for clients, patients, and residents greatly enhance the profession.”

Maureen was Canada Health Infoway’s first chief nursing executive, where she led the way in transforming clinical practice and care delivery as evident in her work with Canadian schools of nursing, medicine, and pharmacy. She has worked relentlessly to integrate technology competencies into undergraduate curriculums, preparing the next generation of health-care professionals for the digital age. She was instrumental in creating key partnerships with the Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Pharmacists Association and Canadian Medical Association, and in establishing peer networks in medicine, nursing, and pharmacy across Canada to provide clinical leadership and support in the integration of information and communications technologies into practice and education.

In a continued effort to promote the integration of health and technology, Maureen recently co-chaired an expert panel for the RNAO’s new Best Practice Guideline (BPG) titled Clinical Practice in a Digital Health Environment. This guideline aims to enhance professional practice in a digital health setting. “I believe that this BPG will enhance nursing practice, improve service delivery, and boost overall health outcomes,” says Maureen. “It is part of our larger mission to build a resilient, person-centric health-care system that uses advanced methodologies to enhance care quality.”

Outlook on the future

From the moment she embraced her nursing career, Maureen has been driven to make a positive imprint on her patients and their families. As she ascended the ranks into leadership, her mission evolved into guiding, nurturing, and serving her team members. Each day, she commits herself to enriching their lives, with her sights set on a brighter future for all. Through her efforts to cultivate a vibrant work environment, Maureen fuels her team’s potential and embraces the 2024 National Nursing Week theme, Changing Lives. Shaping Tomorrow.

Maureen’s conviction is unambiguous: her primary goal is to transform the lives of patients, clients, and those she leads. As Maureen puts it, “The beauty of nursing lies in its diversity. It lends itself to a multitude of practices, offering a rich and rewarding experience.” As a word of advice to novice nurses, she encourages, “Dare to make changes, take risks. It will only make you stronger.”

Michelle Ramos is a communications coordinator at Bayshore HealthCare. Her role involves managing both internal and external communication strategies. She enhances the company's visibility and reputation through effective storytelling.