It is with the utmost respect and admiration that we salute the legacy and life of our patient partner Gerry Johnson. Gerry passed away in July and will be missed immensely by his family, friends and everyone whose spirit has been touched by his kindness and helpfulness.
Gerry was a forest engineer by trade, working as a forestry consultant for many years. He worked for the Council of the Haida Nation as manager of its Forestry & Heritage Program and also worked as a commercial fisherman. In his free time, he greatly enjoyed working as a patient partner, as he believed it was an opportunity to make a positive contribution to health care improvement.
Gerry’s voice was heard and appreciated in many provincial engagement activities and across Island Health. To name a few, he was a member of Island Health’s Patient Advisory Council, Community Health Services Quality Council and Community Health Services Clinical Practice Committee, as well as an active participant of Leader Forums and the Psychological Health and Safety Standard Implementation Planning Working Group. He was also a member of the People in Pain Network, the Ministry of Health’s Standing Committee on Health Services and Population Health and the Traveling from Rural/Remote Communities Focus Group.
“As a member of the Ministry of Health’s Standing Committee, Gerry was highly valued for asking wonderful questions and advocating for the patient perspective. His gentle nature and kind approach as an active committee member will be missed,” reflects Christina Krause, chief executive officer of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, which administers PVN.
Thank you very much for your dedication, Gerry. Your legacy will live on through all you’ve done to help make health care better across the province.
To honour Gerry, one of Island Health’s patient partners would like to share the following poem:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
According to his obituary, a celebration of Gerry’s life will take place on Haida Gwaii in 2020.