My name is Meghan London-Symons. I've been a clinical and administrative secretary at GRH for nine months.
I am a certified Personal Trainer and have a deep passion for holistic health. When facing unemployment due to the pandemic I decided to go back to school for an industry that was in need, which aligned more with my passions and interests. I enrolled in Medical Office Administration at Westervelt College (now Anderson) and spent 6 weeks working through my practicum placement as a student at GRRCC! During my studies I worked as an Exercise Specialist at Woodstock Physiotherapy Clinic which was a very rewarding experience in itself. I graduated with Presidential Honors, and was the chosen Valedictorian for my class. As a student I knew I wanted to end up working at Grand River Hospital and a month after graduating I was given the opportunity. I have spent the last 9 months working in the Emergency Department and recently transferred to the Cancer Center. So my journey has come full circle.
What do you enjoy about working at GRH?
The feeling of making a difference every time I come to work! We all play a role in the process, no matter how small.
Can you tell us about a Black historical figure or leader who has inspired or influenced you?
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks unwittingly provided the greatest contributions to the advancement of medical research when doctors took a tissue sample for her treatment of cervical cancer and realized her cells had an ability to reproduce at such a fast rate that they did not die as other cultured cells normally do. Because of the speed of her cell division, they became known as “immortal”. HeLa cells (as they are commonly referred to) have allowed medical research to progress by leaps and bounds. They have been mass produced and used to develop the Polio vaccine, as well as progressing research in cancer, AIDS, gene mapping and much more. HeLa cells were sent on the Soviet satellite Sputnik-6 to determine the effects of extended space travel on human tissue. Scientist found that the cells reproduced even more rapidly in zero gravity! HeLa cells were also the first to be successfully cloned. All of these amazing breakthroughs achieved, and yet Henrietta was never asked for medical consent to harvest her cells. Although Henrietta ultimately succumbed to her disease, she has saved countless others. There isn’t a person alive today who hasn’t benefitted from the medical advancements made possible by the “immortal” Henrietta Lacks.
Can you recommend any resources or organizations that our hospital can work with to better serve Black patients and communities?
Carla Beharry is a Racial Justice and Somatic Health Equity Educator in the Waterloo Region and Toronto. She has been studying antiracism and racial justice initiatives for over 20 years, and is currently completing her Masters in Social Justice Education at OISE, University of Toronto. She has practiced homeopathic medicine for five years in Canada, and spent much of the past two decades working on HIV and sexual health education, yoga and meditation in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Belize, Barbados, Bali and Portugal. Her work focuses on Anti-Racism and Health Equity education. She organizes learning sessions for Agencies, Clinics, School Boards and Organizations. For more about Carla or to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.infiniteoceans.com | IG: @carla.beharry