Interview: Sandra Sualim, President & CEO
Tell us a little about yourself!
Hello, everyone! My name is Sandra Sualim and in April, 2021 I had the privilege to join the Humber River Hospital Foundation in the role of President & CEO.
In one sentence, how would you explain your job to a friend?
Each day I get up and am excited to work with a fantastic team to strengthen our partnership with the Hospital, advance the mission of the foundation, and build incredible relationships with donors, board members, colleagues, and members of our community.
Is there a Program of Care that you are particularly passionate about?
The Maternal and Child Program is very close to my heart. After the loss of my first child, each of my three pregnancies to follow were high risk. I know first-hand the immeasurable importance of excellent maternal care. For many of us, maternal medicine is one of our first and most critical experiences with healthcare. Having a healthy experience and delivery enables our children, our future, to have healthy lives.
At Humber, we also have an incredible Child Life Program that focuses on making sure our young patients and their families feel comfortable and safe. This plays a very important role in the building of trust among our community in our healthcare system early on.
Our Maternal and Child Program also features incredible community partnerships, including with hospitals like SickKids that are a testament to our healthcare teams and leading-edge facility. I enjoy collaboration, and so working together excites me as I love to see organizations come together to solve major challenges.
In your opinion, what are the most interesting ways technology is being used at Humber?
Our Surgery Program uses a patient tracking system called STERIS RealView that keeps family members informed during their loved one’s surgery. Families can receive text updates to their phones, updating them on our patient’s progress. For example, it can let a family member know when their loved one has entered the operating room and when their surgery is completed. Communication is key during high stress situations, and surgery is very stressful for many families. The unknown can contribute to fear, and so by providing instant information we are empowering our patients’ families and helping to reduce the worry.
I’m also a big fan of the Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) which transport food, supplies, bedding, and non-narcotic medications all around the Hospital.
You are a vocal champion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Why is DEI especially important for non-profits like ours?
COVID-19 really shone a light on the inequalities in our society. Working in the non-profit sector, it is easy to feel great about the work we do, but it is still important for us to take a critical look at our own sector and organizations to identify where we can close the gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Humber River Hospital serves such a diverse community in terms of culture, language, socio-economic background, and ability. That’s why it’s imperative that we consider inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in absolutely everything we do – especially at the leadership level, as systemic change to be impactful must come from where the vision begins.
Do you have a favourite fundraising project?
Right now the work we are doing with our Board of Directors is what is the most intriguing! They play such an important role in making introductions and helping us build relationships with potential donors who want to make a difference at Humber River Hospital. Although this is not a traditional project – it is even better as it has an impact on many of the campaigns and projects we participate in.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I love to travel and have visited over 27 countries. I was born in Germany and have family there, so I have been able to visit many places with Germany as my hub. Hawaii and Turkey were probably my favourite trips over the years.
I also play hockey, ride horses regularly, and like to write children’s stories on the themes I wish I saw more of when I was a kid. I’m a hobby farmer…without a farm! This year I’m growing okra, tomatoes, eight variations of hot peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, strawberries, bell peppers, raspberries, green onions, beets, and all the herbs…all in my backyard.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration in the stories of the people around me. Not only my mentors, friends, colleagues, and loved ones, but people I meet in my travels, on the subway, in the hospital hallways – life is an inspiration for me.