2010 Winners

North Bay | Private Sector

Judy Sharpe

Judy Sharpe

It really is all about the children for Judy Sharpe, executive director of One Kids Place Children’s Treatment Centre in North Bay.

“This work excites me,” says the Public Sector Award winner adding that, “it is meaningful work and it has been a true privilege.”

The out-patient centre, located less than a kilometre from the North Bay General Hospital (NBGH) on McKeown Avenue, officially opened its doors last September with a newly built 41,000-square-foot facility which houses speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services for preschool children in the Nipissing Districts. Two additional sites offering services to children have also opened in Huntsville and Parry Sound.

“This new centre is going to continue to have a real impact on the lives of kids and families,” she says.

“By bringing programs and communities together we become stronger. We are already creating a significant pediatric capacity in the region.”

Interdisciplinary teams branch out into outlying communities, and yet stay connected to One Kids Place through video technology. This means less travel for families and more ability to recruit professionals, Sharpe says.

She has been the driving force behind implementing the One Kids Place model. Parents and stakeholders asked for a one-stop facility for children’s services and Sharpe’s workforce experience has helped in making it a reality.

“The reason we were so successful here is because we looked for people who shared a vision and we did that so successfully with community partners.”

With a social-work background and a master’s in health studies, Sharpe began co-ordinating and planning new initiatives in the early 1990s, which enhanced the health-care environment for the northeast. She worked closely with the Northern Shores District–Council, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit and the hospital’s board to incorporate a management and governance structure for the children’s treatment centre.

“It is wonderful to find people that are committed to bringing this project to fruition.”

One Kids Place opened in 2005 with a staff of three. Today, it has blossomed to 56 full and part-time employees at the three sites and, while some of the staff were divested from other organizations, more than half fill newly created positions, bringing highly skilled therapists to the area.

“By bringing all those different programs together, we can create critical mass, we create an entity, we create credibility and a source of leadership. This has been a phenomenal tool for recruiting professional expertise,” she says.

Last year, One Kids Place served 1,600 patients and that number is expected to increase to 3,000 a year. Historically, there has been no real voice for northeastern Ontario families; however, the children’s centre now provides linkages to those specialized services from out of the region, Sharpe says.

For instance, after children complete their treatment at Toronto’s Sick Kids, One Kids Place provides support they need to walk again, talk again and live the life they were meant to live with their families, in the community, in their schools and through to their adult lives.

“It doesn’t get more simple than that. ”

Sharpe’s leadership style is participative and inclusive. Whenever she is faced with a situation, her first question is “who needs to be at the table to come up with the best solution?”

Developing, designing and servicing a treatment centre is all about kids and their families, she says. By doing this, “I think we have generated respect and energy from the community and it is all about striving for excellence.”