Meet Patricia Kearns—the expert patient

Patricia Kearns is well qualified to tell the patient’s story. She has Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and related conditions. If there is such a thing as an “expert patient,” Kearns might be the one.

“I have been a patient for many years and I have been through a lot,” she says. “But there are certain things and people that have stuck with me over the years like the guidance from Mavis Verronneau, a nurse at the Montreal General Hospital who taught me how to manage my diabetes.”

Kearns also feels very fortunate about being cared for at the MS Clinic of the Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute. “It has a great team of people,” she says. “Among them is Diane Lowden, a nurse educator who provides information that enables patients to make informed decisions. We’re lucky to have options today as patients but we need information to make choices.”

We’re lucky to have options today as patients but we need information to make choices.

”With all of her insight gained, today Kearns helps out with the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) MyToolbox project, a patient-focused program of mutual education and support. She is also a strong advocate of self-management of chronic illnesses and of patients working with their doctors to track the course of an illness. “It is very important to keep notes,” says Kearns. “I keep a health journal - it really helps me to see patterns through the months between visits. When you keep a record of your symptoms it becomes easier to discuss and detect problems or successes.”

Kearns is a strong believer that patients need inspiration and she feels fortunate enough to encounter this often in her work with MyToolBox and as a patient of the MUHC. “I am amazed at the tales of resilience,” she says. “But I guess that’s part of the human spirit.”