Difference Maker – Elma Heidemann, FCCHL

October 7, 2020

In our 50th anniversary year, the College will profile a few long-term members and health leaders. Meet Elma Heidemann. Elma obtained her Master of Health Administration (MHA) at the University of Ottawa in 1975 and has since attained Fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Elma has been a CCHL member since 1987, received her CHE and Fellow certifications in 1993 and 1994 respectively, and has served on many CCHL committees. In 2010, Elma received the CCHL Chair’s Award for Distinguished Service.

For Elma, the largest change in healthcare has been the integration of health services. This change was caused by pressure on funding, pressure for better continuity of care, emphasis on quality improvement and risk management, and recognition of the importance of the patient/client role in care delivery. CCHL has been involved by helping to prepare and support health system leaders over many years and through many iterations of change to address all the challenges involved in integration.

Elma reflects on the College’s 50th anniversary: “As an early member of the College, I am proud of its role, its achievements and its longevity over the past 50 years. I wish the College success with future development, increased membership, and a continuing and increasingly strong role in Canada’s healthcare system”.

Elma had a long career with Accreditation Canada, formerly the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHSA), Canada’s national accrediting body for healthcare organizations. She joined Accreditation Canada in October 1988 as Assistant Executive Director where her role was to establish a Standards Research and Development Program. Elma then served as Chief Executive Officer from 1993 to 2004. During her time as CEO, she oversaw the introduction of quality improvement into accreditation standards and processes, initiated and developed the international role for AC, and worked with many wonderful staff who have moved on to take prominent roles in the healthcare system.

Since her departure from Accreditation Canada, Elma has worked in many countries as an international consultant on projects related to evaluation, standards, and accreditation. She has worked as an external expert in accreditation for the World Health Organization and World Bank. She is a former member of the Scientific Council of L’Agence Nationale d’Accréditation et d’Évaluation en Santé, now HAS, and the former Irish Health Services Accreditation Board. Elma is past-president of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) and was instrumental in helping to create ISQua’s International Accreditation Program. She continues to serve as an international surveyor for the IAP program and is a member of ISQua’s International Academy of Quality and Safety in Health Care (IAQS).

Elma held board appointments and is a past chairman for the Canadian Hospital Association (formerly the Canadian Healthcare Association, now HealthCareCAN) and the Ontario Hospital Association. She has been a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the Ontario Hospital Association/Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Provincial Report Card, and a member of the OHA’s Patient Safety Support Services Advisory Group. For 12 years she served as trustee on the board of directors of the Riverside Hospital, Ottawa, (now part of the Ottawa Hospital), including a two-year term as Chairman of the Board. She is Past Chair of the Ottawa Carleton Regional District Health Council and Past Chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Palliative Care Consortium. Elma also chaired a special committee established by the federal ministry of Health Canada to develop a model of palliative care for persons with AIDS. Elma is the founding co-chair and current Emeritus member of the Canadian Health Leadership Network (CHLNet) which is comprised of key national health organizations which are dedicated to promotion of quality health care leadership both now and in the future to insure the sustainability of the Canadian health care system.