The 2015 Balfour Mount Champion Award was awarded to Dr. Ina Cummings in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the field of hospice palliative care in Canada.
For over 30 years Dr. Cummings has made an exceptional impact to the advancement of hospice palliative care in Canada and paved the way for others, cared for many, taught much and has been admired as a humble, trusted and compassionate pioneer, team player, advocate, teacher and mentor.
Dr. Cummings career began in 1967 as a family physician. In the 1975 she went on to work in hospice palliative care after being approached by Dr. Balfour Mount to help create one of the first palliative care units in Canada, at Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital. In her daily activities, Dr. Cummings was involved in the daily care of patients and families. In 1984 Dr. Cummings became the director of the palliative care unit.
Dr. Cummings played a major role in the field of hospice palliative care by developing a clinical model for a university teaching hospital setting, co-editing the first Canadian manual of palliative care, writing numerous papers and articles, serving on many local, provincial and national committees and being a frequent speaker nationwide on interprofessional teams, whole person care and pain and symptom management.
In 1993, Dr. Cummings moved her palliative care practice to Nova Scotia and until 2000 served as director of the Dalhousie University’s Palliative Care Program. During her time in Nova Scotia, Dr. Cummings continued to be a visionary and a leader dedicating herself to enhancing development of palliative care, while continuing to work to improve the quality of life for individuals living with a life threatening illness, and their families. She also continued to be an excellent role model for palliative professionals and volunteers.
After moving back to Quebec Dr. Cummings taught at the McGill Palliative Program and was the first medical director of the new West Island Palliative Care Residence. Dr. Cummings was instrumental in building the residence into the largest freestanding palliative care facility in Canada.
Other notable accomplishments of Dr. Cummings’ include being one of the founding members of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, co-chairing the CHPCA Standards Committee that produced the original “Palliative Care: Towards a Consensus in Standardized Principles of Practice” document. Dr. Cummings also served a term as President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians; received the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association’s Award of Excellence, and the Award of Merit from Bishop’s University, and received an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws.