2019 HOSPITAL SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR NOMINEE
HOSPITAL SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR
Illana has dedicated her 32 year social work career to enhancing the lives of the traumatically injured. For the past 28 years, she has practiced as a hospital social worker in the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC), Toronto. This is the largest trauma center in Canada, treating approximately 2500 patients annually, the majority of who have sustained a brain injury. Illana has developed an outstanding reputation in the hospital as well as the larger health care community and is highly regarded for her knowledge, skills and passion for helping her clients navigate the complex hospital system. Ilana’s expertise in crisis intervention, advocacy, grief counselling and care planning has benefited thousands of patients and families to cope with the stress of such devastating injuries. Notably, in April 2018, Illana played a leadership role during Sunnybrook’s Code Orange response to the mass casualty event following the horrific Yonge Street van attack. She was pivotal in helping to set up the Family Support and Information Centre at the hospital, helping many of the family members through the night, and working with the survivors thereafter.
In addition to her demanding hospital clinical practice, Illana simultaneously holds the role of Social Work Education leader, coordinating all facets of the student education program for SHSC’s 3 sites. She is committed to ‘passing on the torch’ within the social work profession, and has worked tirelessly to enhance the involvement of the social work service at SHSC in offering student placements. In 2010, she pioneered the Sunnybrook Social Work Student Education Standard the first of its kind in North America which sets out expectations and criteria for staff in terms of teaching activities. Illana is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW), University of Toronto, where she teaches in the MSW program and serves as the Chair of the Faculty Council. She has been awarded 2 research grants from the FIFSW and has numerous publications and awards to her credit, including SHSC’s Schulich Award for Clinical Excellence, exemplifying the quality of her care to patients, the North American Field Educators Award (the second Canadian to ever receive this international award), and the FIFSW’s Platinum Award for Excellence in Field Education.
Illana completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto in 1990 (with Distinction), and her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (Cum Laude) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987.
Further details about Illana’s work and training can be found online at:
– LinkedIn Profile
– Toronto Star (April 2019): “We believe there will be others”
– Toronto Star (May 3, 2018): Families surged into Sunnybrook after last week’s van rampage. Here’s where they went by Vjosa Isai
– Toronto Star (April 23, 2018): The Van Attack – One year later by May Warren and Jim Rankin
– Collaborative Caring, Stories and Reflections on Teamwork in Health Care, edited by Suzanne Gordon, David L. Feldman and Michael Leonard.