Growing up, family was a powerful influence on Michele Bellows’s career selection as a healthcare professional. As her father and sister both pursued occupations in nursing, she was naturally captivated by the field. When an ambitious Michele initially entered the industry, Christine Ferguson played a mentorship role and provided her first acute care management position. The two examined the factors attributing to success in the position and Christine remarked that she recognized a passion in Michele for what she does. These words carried throughout Michele’s extensive 35-year career as a reference threshold of motivation.
In February 2019, Michele transitioned into the CEO of Rideau Community Health Services. The shift from acute care leadership to primary and community care unlocked numerous career opportunities while allowing her to practice her initial management learning once again. As a leader, she accumulated experiences from working in all sectors of healthcare with an emphasis on acute care over the past 15 years. From Michele’s perspective, primary care is an opportunity to influence both health and well-being in a proactive rather than reactive approach. She elaborates on the leverage by saying, “When we have a positive impact at the primary care level, the benefits are felt across the entire health care system.” Throughout her profession, Michele consistently sought to be a positive and sustainable influence and achieved various accomplishments in recognition of her leadership.
In terms of career achievements, Michele Bellows played a leadership role and reached 99% compliance with their accreditation in an earlier organization. This occasion was a proud moment for her team of contributing members concerning the maximization of a cumulative target. More recently, Rideau Community Health Services received a Capital Planning grant, which the team awaits approval to break ground on a new community and social service hub in Smiths Falls.
In acute care, linking quality to funding is an important priority and is becoming more often evident in primary care. Other key challenges lie in human resources regarding both acute and primary care. For example, although smaller urban and rural settings have plenty to offer such as great communities, recruitment can often be difficult. One way to tackle this issue is to have people come out and fall in love with the area and its people prior to reaching a decision. Michele states that from a recruiting perspective, “Understanding the wants and needs of our people is of the utmost importance.”
As the past Chair of the Eastern Ontario Chapter, Michele Bellows advises new leaders in healthcare to discover mentors at an early stage of their careers. By identifying peers that uphold the same basic philosophies and approaches to professional healthcare, they will be empowered to do better. Finding such a mentor can be the impetus needed to take the first step into leadership or perhaps a personal career change. As Michele reflects on her long journey, she mentions, “I can’t think of another field that has the same diversity or has seen as much change as health care.” She further reflects her continued excitement about coming to work every day and fulfilling her occupational passions. In recognition of her efforts and contributions to the CCHL Eastern Ontario Chapter, Michele Bellows was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Chapter Award for Distinguished Service.