Distinguished grad a champion in palliative care

Caring for people during their most vulnerable moments is a privilege Brock graduate Mahoganie Hines (BScN ’16) takes seriously.

The registered nurse has spent several years working in hospices, teaching others about the importance of end-of-life care and advocating for policy changes that will have a positive and lasting impact on the health-care system, patients and their families.

In recognition of her leadership and dedication to her profession, Hines was recently awarded the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Distinguished Graduate Award during Brock’s 2023 Homecoming celebration.

Hines attended Brock’s Nursing program as a mature student. A chance opportunity to care for a friend’s mother, who had dementia and a fractured hip, had inspired her to pivot from her earlier training in fashion design to a career in nursing. Originally planning to work in dementia care, Hines was quickly drawn to the field of palliative care when she began her studies at Brock.

“It just seemed like the embodiment of what good nursing care is,” she said. “It’s person-centred care, it includes the family, and it keeps them at the centre of everything.”

Hines balanced her Brock studies with part-time work as a personal support worker for people with acquired brain injuries. Once graduated, Hines turned down a full-time role in a hospital to work part time in a local hospice.

“I came into nursing to do something that was fulfilling, and palliative care was exactly what I wanted to be doing,” she said. “I get to see so many beautiful experiences through the lifespan. People trust me in their most vulnerable moments, and I think that’s such a privilege.”

Hines spent nearly eight years as a Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Consultant with Hospice Niagara, teaching health-care providers to build capacity for palliative care and consulting with long-term care homes. While in the role, she provided in-service training to Brock Nursing, Med Plus and Master of Applied Gerontology students and participated in palliative care simulations.

While palliative care is often seen as a specialty, Hines said, it is also an expectation for generalist level nurses and health-care providers.

“A focus of my practice has been considering how we foster and cultivate nurses coming into the field who want to do palliative care,” she said. “Most patients won’t need specialist level palliative care, so I think every health-care provider needs to have a basic level of competency.”

Three people stand side-by-side in front of a red wall decorated with Brock University logos.

Brock University President and Vice-Chancellor Lesley Rigg, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (FAHS) Distinguished Graduate Award recipient Mahoganie Hines (BScN ’16) and FAHS Dean Peter Tiidus at Brock’s Alumni Recognition Reception on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Beyond her roles in educating current and future health-care practitioners, Hines is a champion for palliative care at the provincial, national and international levels. She is currently the President of the Palliative Care Nurses Interest Group with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and President-elect of the Canadian Palliative Care Nursing Association.

“They are great opportunities to see from different lenses where there are gaps in service delivery, resources and resource allocation,” she said.

She has also spoken at Queen’s Park about the need for equitable and accessible high-quality palliative care through the development of the Compassionate Care Act, which became law in December 2020.

“As nurses, we have a responsibility to advocate for our patients, but we also have a responsibility to advocate for our profession and other health-care professions,” she said.

Earlier this year, Hines completed a Master of Health Science in Bioethics degree at the University of Toronto and took on a new role with Hamilton Health Sciences as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at St. Peter’s Hospital in the one of the largest palliative care units in North America.

Hines is also continuing in an educator role for Hospice Palliative Care Ontario and is teaching courses at the post-secondary level. She is currently a teaching assistant for Brock’s third-year course in Nursing Ethics and for Georgian College’s graduate course in Ethics, Law and Culture in Palliative Care.

Among many accolades, Hines received the 2023 Larry Librach Prize for Ethics and End-of-Life Care; was recognized in 2021 by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario with the Leadership Award in Political Action and received the Nursing Now Ontario Award in the RN category; and in 2020, was one of Niagara’s 40 under Forty award recipients.

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