Throughout Elaine Taylor’s career, she’s been driven by curiosity, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to improve patients’ experiences.
In her current role as team lead for pre and post analytics at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, Elaine and her team support everything that happens before and after a lab test, from ordering of the test to sharing results.
Throughout it all, Elaine brings a special passion to her work – which is why her nominators jumped at the chance to recognize Elaine with a PHSA+ Award.
“We cannot say enough great things about Elaine Taylor and her compassionate engagement and partnerships with staff, patients and families alike,” said Baljit Singh, director, and Jenn Danielson, strategic lead, both at Lower Mainland Labs Quality & Process Improvement.
“Elaine has dedicated her career to serving with purpose and exemplifies this each day.”
Drawing professional inspiration from personal experiences
Elaine was planning to be a high school science teacher until she got sick while studying science at UBC.
“I ended up spending quite a lot of time in and out of medical labs, because it took months to figure out what was going on,” said Elaine. “I was completely fascinated by the labs and the diagnostic journey."
"That first blood test at 20 years old completely changed my career path – I ended up doing science instead of teaching it!”
Elaine began working as a lab assistant, and eventually went to BCIT to become a lab technologist. She started at PHSA right out of school in 1985, working as a hematology tech. “I absolutely loved the bench work - looking in microscopes and differentiating cells.”
After her second daughter was born, Elaine took some time away from the lab. But, she was soon asked back to help with some accreditation processes, which evolved into ongoing part-time work.
Around that time, Elaine’s family was also visiting BC Children’s Hospital often for care and treatment.
Elaine’s youngest daughter, Nadine, has sensorineural hearing loss. The family’s care team at BC Children’s supported the entire family through the experience.
“It was so amazing - in a lot of ways, the experience we had as a family taught me about the high standard of care BC Children's gives to all patients and families,” said Elaine.
Elaine continues to be inspired by her own family as well. “I’ve seen these people I love face adversity with such courage and persistence,” she said.
Nadine (second from right) earned a master’s in public health and now works in research and evaluation of health and social policy, and Elaine’s eldest daughter, Gillian (far right) became an audiologist – her interest sparked by those early experiences with her family and BC Children’s care team.
“They’re so kind, hard-working and courageous – they inspire me in my work every day,” said Elaine.
Outside of work, Elaine loves to garden and take in nature, whether around her home in the North Shore or on trips to U.S. national parks – like this past trip to Arches National Park in Utah.
In 2002, Elaine was asked to work in pre and post analytics for “just a short time” – and that’s where she’s stayed for the last 18+ years. Elaine said she loves being involved in so many aspects of the diagnostic and testing process.
“We support everything before and after the lab test: the ordering of tests, the collection of samples, getting the right sample to the right department for the right test, and then getting those results to the right people after,” said Elaine.
There are countless examples of Elaine’s contributions at work in every setting.
“She is well-known for her consistent, unwavering commitment for improving care for all, and this is demonstrated repeatedly in every day moments and larger deliverables,” explained Baljit.
One major project has been implementing individual ‘care plans’ for patients interacting with the lab at BC Children’s.
Elaine recognized some patients faced obstacles to successful blood draws – things like having difficult veins, needle anxiety, and hypersensitivity to pain. She also saw it was challenging lab assistants, who don’t want to cause pain or stress for their young patients, but had to collect the samples.
A care plan acts as a communication tool to better explain the patient’s needs when they arrive for lab work.
Plans can range from one page to many, and include information about the patient, their concerns and preferences for blood work, and how lab assistants can help them overcome any challenges and make them feel more comfortable.
This simple tool enables more successful blood draws and better collaboration between a team of care providers and the family, explained Elaine.
From a patient perspective, the care plan saves the patient and family from repeating and explaining their preferred blood draw processes, and provides vital information in emergency situations.
“Having my care plan gives me a security that has built my foundation for my health care,” explained a now grown-up patient at a 2018 quality conference. “I was the first child at [BC Children’s] to have a blood work care plan and now there are over 300. The continuity of care has made my transition to adult care, that much smoother and easier.”
Elaine has been thrilled to see how use of care plans has grown in BC Children’s lab. She’s quick to attribute credit and gratitude to the supportive leaders, mentors and teammates - especially the medical laboratory assistants - who made the program possible.
Elaine (centre front) with the pre and post analytics team at BC Children’s Hospital/BC Women's Hosital + Health Centre.
But implementing the lab-specific care plans was no easy feat and Elaine deserves major credit for her role, explained Baljit and Jenn.
“It required advocacy, influence, partnerships across multiple groups and development of new protocols…Elaine’s work is truly leaving a legacy.”
As use of the care plans has increased, Elaine was able to advocate for a child life specialist to join the BC Children’s and Women’s lab team.
Child life specialists are trained in child development and promote effective coping for patients and families through play, preparation and education. Together with families, child life specialists help write care plans to support patients when they arrive at the lab. This collaboration also involves the medical laboratory assistants who have become used to incorporating a playful patient-centred approach.
Elaine hopes that one day, every child and family interacting with labs across B.C. will benefit from this kind of unique care and attention and the expertise of child life specialists.
It’s all part of the bigger picture of bringing more compassion and trust into each patient’s experience with labs, explained Elaine.
“My vision would be that all children grow up unafraid to get their blood taken,” said Elaine. “If we can get them comfortable on their very first blood collection, we’ll have a whole generation of adults that aren’t afraid needles.”