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Dr. Irene Mitrana & Lisa Pell


Although born on opposite sides of the world, Medical Director of Emergency Services, Dr. Irene Mitrana and Emergency Department, Program Manager, Lisa Pell have found themselves at St. Mary’s with the same goal in mind: transforming how patients experience the emergency department.

Born in Moscow, Irene immigrated to Canada at the age of 11. A bit of a self-professed jock, she didn’t always see herself as a future doctor. “I wasn’t like other doctors who knew when they were kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. It wasn’t until much later that I became intrigued by med school and the challenge it presented. Once I got in though, I realized I could really help people and medicine was a perfect way to do that.”

Lisa, on the other hand, knew from a young age that she was destined to become a nurse, following in the footsteps of her mother. Growing up in Woodstock, her grandfather suffered from PICC’s and Huntington’s disease and Lisa would often provide her grandmother some respite by helping her mother care for him.“He suffered a lot but we were able to provide him some comfort. It was through caring for my grandfather that I found my calling.”

Both Irene and Lisa are new to their roles at St. Mary’s. Together they are spearheading a transformational change which will ensure that the gateway to our hospital, the emergency department, is a place where patients find healing and comfort.

They have a bold objective in mind; to completely eliminate the traditional waiting room.

“Emergency is a complex work environment,” says Irene. “We depend on so many other hospital departments and staff to help us treat our patients; in many cases requiring the support of medical imaging, laboratory services, as well as consultation with specialists. Coordinating all of these moving parts can slow our patient assessment down, but we’re determined to develop a process to expedite this without compromising care or patient safety.”

Lisa explains that most patients are less concerned with how long their total visit takes and more anxious about the delay in being seen by a medical professional. To address that, she sees a future without a waiting room.

“Irene and I envision a St. Mary’s emergency department in which every patient will be triaged and moved directly to an area to be seen by a doctor or nurse to begin their care. We have some work to do to get there, but we’re convinced it is the right approach.”