As part of Mission: Forward, we’ve emphasized our desire to enhance our learning culture and spread a mindset for innovation throughout the organization. One way we will do that is through dramatic improvements to care or uncovering new data and treatments. Another way is to look for changes we could implement to make work life more efficient and enjoyable or improve the experience of a patient, resident or family. ​

That’s where Ideas: Forward comes in. It is a way for PHC staff and medical staff to share their great ideas and get some help to make them a reality. Health care is complex, and it can be challenging to connect with the right team or service, as there are many that support improvement and innovation. Ideas: Forward makes it easy; simply fill in the short form on PHC C​onnect and you’re on your way.

“​When an idea is submitted to Ideas: Forward, I contact the submitter and work with them to determine how to move the idea forward,” said Holly van Heukelom, senior manager, Ideas: Forward. “First, I check to see if the idea aligns with work already taking place at PHC. If so, I review the idea with the relevant working group or committee. If the idea doesn’t fit within existing projects, I work with the idea initiator to navigate internal structures and facilitate access to internal resources.”

Holly noted that the person who submitted their idea can choose to be involved as much or as little as they want in implementing their idea.

“With Ideas: Forward, we want to be transparent,” said Holly. “Sometimes it isn’t the right time to implement an idea, or there isn’t the funding to make it happen immediately. Whenever possible, I work with people to find the kernel of their idea that we can move forward.”

Holly began her healthcare career as a registered dietitian. She completed a master’s degree in health administration and spent six-and-a-half years as a patient care manager with St. Paul’s Hospital Acute Medicine. She has a strong network of relationships across Providence, an asset in a role that requires making connections between different parts of the organization.

A recent suggestion to make period products (e.g., menstrual pads and tampons) freely available in washrooms around Providence Health Care is launching as an Ideas: Forward pilot project in early November. The pilot, scheduled to last six months, will be rolled out at a mix of staff, patient and visitor washrooms at St. Paul’s Hospital Acute, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital Diagnostic, Treatment and Procedure Rooms and at Holy Family Hospital Long Term Care.

“I think making period products available is a fantastic idea,” said Barb Langlois, program director, surgery, for St. Paul’s Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. “It is one more thing we can do to look after the well-being of our staff.”

“When you’re working in a surgical procedure room, you have very little time to yourself. Having period products available in the bathroom can improve the comfort and psychological safety for our staff,” said Barb.

Making period products available in washrooms is also a step toward creating a more inclusive workplace.

“People of all genders and people who don’t identify with a gender (agender) can have a period[1],” said Nesreen Ali, lead equity, diversity and inclusion. “Bathrooms are one of first places trans and non-binary people experience violence.[2] Being able to access the products you need in a bathroom that affirms your gender identity removes one stressful decision from your day.”

Period products can also be expensive. According to data collected by the United Way, more than a quarter of people who menstruate in BC say that they have gone through a period without having menstrual products available to them and 22% of people who menstruate have missed work because they couldn’t afford period products.[3]

The pilot project will be evaluated to determine next steps.

Ideas: Forward is one of the streams in Innovarium 360°, PHC’s innovation ecosystem that provides cohesion and internal support for improvements, advancements and new ways of doing things. Other streams include Providence Health Innovation, Research + Engagement (PHIRE), a team that works with the Providence clinical and research community to advance important research ideas, and PHC Ventures, an independent arm of PHC that focuses on commercialization of health care solutions.

[1] See for definition of agender

[2] Taylor, C. & Peter, T., with McMinn, T.L., Elliott, T., Beldom, S., Ferry, A., Gross, Z., Paquin, S., & Schachter, K. (2011). Every class in every school: The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools. Final report. Toronto, ON: Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. Available at

[3]  Data taken from​ Sept 28, 2022