“I’ve lived with chronic illness for over 35 years. And I have a vision for re-imagining the present in order to create a sustainable, compassionate and healthy future for my 2 year old granddaughter.”

Zal Press
Patient Commando

It took over 30 years living with Crohn’s Disease before it really struck me how little people like me participate in the decisions and choices affecting our healthcare.

I ended up wondering what the world of healthcare might look like if the voices of all patients were empowered and their choices supported. What if it was actually operated by patients? How different would that be?

If you’re someone who lives with a chronic health problem that just won’t let go of you, then this is where you belong. This is where you can start to get even.

That’s what’s going on here. Join us. We’re all patients too.

Our work is all about you and improving your experience. We know how good, good health can feel. And we know how much bad health really sucks. Giving you a choice you may never have felt you had, is the core of our work. Choices that matter to you. We think that’s important. Because we’re patients too.

This is where we started and is central to everything we do. Amplifying the patient voice through the power of your own narrative. Our collection of patient stories influences policy, education, research, and practice. Stories are where we find meaning and enrich our appreciation of the lived illness experience.

Browse our story collection.

Critical issues demand attention. This is where we dive deeper to explore what it’s like to live with Type 2 Diabetes, or the devastating impact of uterine fibroids. End-of-life? Yes, we have opinions. Health and the arts – that too. And we honour many women whose efforts to make a difference goes unrecognized.

Browse our blog.

It’s no longer good enough for health policy decisions to be made without patients included. Nationally, we’ve pushed the envelope on how patient voices are heard in the CADTH Common Drug Review approval process. Locally, Zal was on the leadership team at the Toronto Central LHIN that established a new standard of partnering with patients in large scale integration of health services.

We’ve been part of the patient experience movement before it was a movement. As co-chair of the Beryl Institute Global Patient and Family Advisory Council or co-chairing a Health Quality Ontario committee that made Canada’s largest health conference “Patients Included”, we have focused on supporting the value that Patient and Family Advisors bring to improving the delivery of care.

We organize people around critical health issues and enable them to advocate for their own cause. You’ll see us working behind the scenes with causes like rare skin disorders (HS Aware), diabetes (T1DTTN, T2DXX) and women’s health (CanFib). We’re there to build leadership capacity, help develop their stories, and ensure that all voices are heard, respected, and supported.

Our Work

You

Our work is all about you and improving your experience.

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Stories

This is where we started and is central to everything we do.

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Blog

Critical issues demand attention.

Learn More

Policy

It’s no longer good enough for health policy decisions to be made without patients included.

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Patient Experience

We’ve been part of the patient experience movement before it was a movement.

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Advocacy

We organize people around critical health issues and enable them to advocate for their own cause.

Learn More

Our Team

  • Zal Press

    When Zal was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1980 he felt like there were no good choices. Then one day 24 years later, after 2 surgeries and multiple recurrences, he got angry and turned into a Patient Commando. Then one day the pharmacy where he spent $36,000 a year on his medication refused his request for a donation to support Crohn’s. He got angry again. This enterprise is the result.

  • Mitch Houlahan

    Mitch is a former all star college soccer player who retired early due to injuries and chronic back pain. With his political science degree he cut his teeth and hands in the construction business and then project management. What he won’t tell you is how good he draws. You might bump into him on summer weekends drawing charcoal portraits on a lakeside dock. Get one before he’s discovered.

  • Alexx Swanson

    Alexx is a master at working without any real direction and doing things that are not within her scope of work. But if you encourage her enough, she will push through those obstacles and boundaries and create things that are elegant in their simplicity while still getting us to the next crucial step. Heavy, heavy metal inside those ear buds help.

  • Michael Houlahan

    Mike crossed over from the dark side about 5 years ago to a state of enlightenment. He is uniquely bilingual – able to speak both patient advocacy language as well as pharma industry speak. That positions him perfectly to help us navigate to the most pressing common issues. When Zal starts rocking the boat Mike keeps it from tipping over.

  • Centre for Social Innovation

    CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) is not an individual but an entire community dedicated to catalyzing social innovators. How lucky could we get to work in a community that encourages disruptive thinking and puts their money where their mouth is. We were even luckier to get accepted into their Agents of Change accelerator and accelerate is exactly what happened.

You’re the patient voice.

Tell us what you want us to be about.