Showing the human side of healthcare

CP    October 16, 2017

Health Sciences North (HSN), a Northern Ontario hospital, is shining a light on the human side of healthcare as it reaching patients, hospital visitors, and the community at large. Located in Sudbury, Ontario, HSN has garnered Northern Ontario’s attention after the launch of their blog, Humans of HSN.

Humans of HSN is an online blog modelled after the infamous Humans of New York, where pictures, videos and stories of HSN staff, volunteers and patients are shared. Each week, the blog features new stories of the many faces at HSN which are then shared across HSN’s social media networks. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals alike are sharing details of their lives outside of their hospital life. Whether talking about their personal passions, such as curling, or a once-in-a-lifetime family trip, patients and visitors of the hospital are given the opportunity to see beyond the person treating them.

HSN is the regional hub for healthcare services in Northern Ontario. While located in Sudbury, many of the patients and their families who come to HSN are from other parts of the region. This initiative serves as a powerful medium to help bring comfort and a human approach to the care provided and to show who is “behind the mask.”

Key to the success of this initiative is the power of social media along with employee engagement. Humans of HSN relies on social media to help tell the many wonderful and vast stories of the people who make up the hospital community. By depicting touching stories of employees, a humanistic and caring nature is conveyed as HSN as an organization.

The idea for Humans of HSN came from Sarah Wendorf, HSN’s Social Media and Web Specialist.

Here’s what Sarah had to say about this project in an interview following the launch with CBC News:

“We want our audience to feel a human connection to the hospital,” said Sarah Wendorf.

“It’s a large building. It can be intimidating for patients who come in. We want to make it more of a human place where you get to know the people who work at and visit the hospital,” she said.

“The stories feature the human side of health care, so the nurse that you see in the hallway or the physician that treats you every day,” Wendorf said. “It’s nice to get to know them on a different level.”

Humans of HSN is just one example of HSN incorporating employee involvement into their social media practices. Since venturing into the social media world as an organization, HSN has always seen the value of employee involvement into their social media efforts.

One of the challenges often encountered in healthcare is miscommunication and false information being spread. Employee involvement and social media serve as important tools to help bring factual and timely health messages to the public.

HSN is also very active on their YouTube channel, using employees and real healthcare professionals to help inform their community of relevant healthcare messages — and often have fun at the same time. Check out MythFracture, HSN’s web series that takes healthcare myths and puts them to the test:

Lessons for Others

Employee engagement serves as a very important tool in social media. In the case of HSN, employee engagement goes a long way in helping to make a patient’s visit more comfortable and to help build and maintain the credibility and image of the agency.

Have a look for yourself and see the wide arrange of employee involvement at HSN! Check out of Health Sciences North’s social media networks:

Organization: Health Sciences North (HSN)
Industry: Healthcare
Name of Organization Contact: Sarah Wendorf, Social Media and Web Specialist

Authored by: CP

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Humans of HSN • HSN en histoires. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from

About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from

Stefanovich, CBC, O. (2016, May 25). Want to know your doctor on a personal level? Sudbury hospital tries to make human connection with new blog. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from

Schwabe, M. (Writer). (2016, May 25). Humans of HSN – stories and videos of people at the hospital [Television series episode]. In Morning North. Sudbury, ON: CBC. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from