Henry Mietkiewicz: The Wordsmith of the Jewish General Hospital

Henry Mietkiewicz (front row, in blue shirt), surrounded by members of the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal Communications team, in March, 2020
Henry Mietkiewicz (front row, in blue shirt), surrounded by members of the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal Communications team, in March, 2020

Senior editor and publisher at the Jewish General Hospital since 2004, Henry Mietkiewicz has overseen the publication of hundreds of articles. A magician with words, he alone has produced more than 400 articles that can be found on the JGH News website, in addition to contributing to the 360 Newsletter CIUSSS staff and writing speeches for our network’s senior executives.

Celebrating his 70th birthday at the beginning of the year, Henry has always been able to shed a new light on events at the Hospital and CIUSSS, and to find the right words to showcase the work of our employees. Discreet by nature, he made a difference for those who were the subject of his articles.

This portrait was supposed to be published last March. Unfortunately, the pandemic changed the 360 team’s plans. As the CIUSSS returns to its pre-COVID-19 level of activity, it is now possible to present this updated tribute to a man who is sincerely appreciated by his team and his organization.

A native of Toronto and son of Holocaust survivors, Henry Mietkiewicz fell in love with Montreal during a summertime visit to the Atwater Market. “It’s like Disneyland for fresh fruits and vegetables”, he said to his wife, Dorothy Lipovenko. Was it the French that Henry learned in university, or the fact his wife — who grew up near the JGH — talked about returning home that influenced what happened next? Probably a bit of both…

So, after 25 years as a Toronto Star staff reporter, Henry made a major life change and moved with Dorothy to Montreal, a city they enjoyed more day by day.

In 2004, Henry officially joined the JGH Communications team. “When Henry was TV critic, he enjoyed watching and reviewing a medical surgery series. It’s no wonder he was enthusiastic to see firsthand new advances in surgery at the JGH, like robotics, and write about them” says Dorothy.

Over the years, Henry has seen the JGH grow and expand, along with the CIUSSS. Throughout these changes, Henry has always remained a storyteller. Whether it’s a new type of surgery or the work of a volunteer, everything can spark his interest so that he, in turn, can share it with the widest possible audience. During the COVID-19 outbreak, he focused his discerning eye on several aspects of the pandemic, whether it was the work of the JGH laundry staff or the growing role and importance of telehealth.

In normal times, the door to his office on the eighth floor of Pavilion A is always open, the better to hear a good story. People who stop by with ideas can easily identify his office by the presence of:

  • A few cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke, his favorite drink.
  • A wall calendar of superheroes. Henry’s interview with Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, would be the last one the comic-book legend would ever give.
  • A gallery of framed photographs, revealing his passion for photography, rural landscapes and urban architecture.

Henry is still busy marveling at what he discovers on a daily basis. With his tape recorder and spiral notebook in hand, he sets out to inspire readers of JGH News or 360 to discover and share his passion for topics as varied as robotic surgery, the initiatives of medical and support staff, or the personal experiences of patients and their families, from maternity to palliative care. As he says, “It’s information that improves quality of life or can simply save a life!”

The Communications team is proud to have a talented man like Henry on staff, always ready to help and highlight the work of others. We wish him a happy 70th birthday. May he continue to be the wordsmith of our network for many years to come!