Verna Yiu, '84 BMedSc, '86 MD

President and CEO of Alberta Health Services; Professor of pediatrics, Pediatric Nephrology

20 September 2018

Verna Yiu is a driver of change who leads by example at the helm of Alberta Health Services, Canada's largest provincial health system.

"Dr. Yiu has epitomized kindness and a generosity of spirit that has inspired trust, respect and admiration, while ensuring that compassionate care for patients remains at the forefront of the organizations she serves," said Paul Armstrong, Distinguished University Professor of Medicine.

Colleagues say she stood out early in her career as a compassionate and caring medical student, bringing her grandmother to a cancer clinic appointment on the same day as her UAlberta MD class of '86 convocation, carrying her gown and mortarboard.

Today, Yiu is the visionary behind AHS's 'Patient First' strategy that includes sharing a series of patient stories on YouTube, harnessing the power of digital storytelling to transform culture. For Yiu, the art medicine and healing is about the human-to-human interactions and the trust clinicians build with patients and their families.

"Storytelling helps us bring a human face to the disease. It helps clinicians understand that when we talk about Mrs. Smith in Unit 34, it's not that she has diabetes with hypertension and cardiac failure, but that she's a grandmother of five and a retired teacher," said Yiu. "We provide the best care when we know what matters to patients and their families."