Donor Appreciation Interview with Tor Youngquist

Pictured here L-R are PSMF supporters: Steve Burrows, Marty Hatlie, Margo Burrows, Marda Kornhaber, Barbara Coughlin, Chuck Holland and Tor Youngquist.

The vision of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF) is to “achieve zero preventable patient harm and death across the globe by 2030”- but this mission would not be possible without the generous support from our donors. 

To begin 2022 with positivity and gratitude, PSMF’s Development Intern, Kate-Yeonjae Jeong, had the opportunity to interview one of the foundation’s loyal benefactors, Mr. Tor Youngquist. 

Mr. Youngquist is currently in his 60s, with a wife and two grown children. As for his profession, he works for a consulting firm servicing the Electric and Gas utility industry. “I am lucky enough to have been born into a highly educated family who gave me all opportunities,” he says. 

Influenced by his personal experiences and inspiring moments, Mr. Youngquist has been a donor to PSMF for years. When asked what about the foundation inspired him to contribute to the organization, Mr. Youngquist tells us that there were numerous factors to his decision. 

“One of my best friends, Martie Hatlie, has been very involved with the Patient Safety Movement for a number of years. We have been hearing about the Patient Safety Movement from him for a long time,” Mr. Youngquist answers. 

Through his friend, Mr. Youngquist was able to keep up with PSMF’s activities and events, including the recent conference he has attended both this year and last year. The conferences greatly impressed Mr. Youngquist. “The presentations and stories have been compelling,” he remarks, “Especially the documentary film, Bleed Out, from Steve and Margo Burrows.”

“These two experiences told us that we need grass-roots support for a movement like yours.   We decided to give monthly because it was easy and it spreads out the cost.  Also, each month when I see the charge, it reminds me of the work that you do and that we are helping out in even a small way.”

Mr. Youngquist’s involvement with PSMF also comes from his own experiences. “On a personal note, I have seen first-hand how devastating medical error can be,” he shares. 

“My wife, Barbara was the victim of medical error, and its effects will be with her for the rest of her life,” he says. Not only that, Mr. Youngquist has seen medical errors affect his friends and co-workers. 

“We have a close friend who has really had to be a strong advocate for herself – she has to fight for everything.  We are sure that her cancer should have been discovered several years ago,” he says. “Also, I recently heard that a retired coworker recently passed away.  He had lived 80+ years and survived a heart attack and two small plane crashes, only to die in the hospital from medical error.”

From these experiences, Mr. Youngquist has become a proponent for patient safety; he aligns with PSMF’s mission of: “Getting to zero, trying to get multiple stakeholders to collaborate, teaching people to be strong advocates.”

Transforming patient safety advocacy is no simple process. When asked what he believes would most transform patient safety advocacy, Mr. Youngquist answered that politicians’ active observation of patient safety as a moral and humanitarian issue would be impactful. 

“It is a major issue with both short and long term benefits, and that the cost of doing nothing is huge,” he tells us. He also says that “getting the medical community and the suppliers to look beyond the short term costs” would be beneficial. 

For prospective advocates of PSMF’s mission, Mr. Youngquist advises, “Think about patient safety and its impact. I would wager that either you or someone you know has been the victim of medical error.  You do not have to go beyond one degree of separation.” 

He also adds, “Know how to protect yourself and your loved ones – learn about patient advocacy.  The Foundation can provide guidance.” 

When asked of his personal mission, Mr. Youngquist responds, “I try to help others wherever I can. [My family and I] give to a number of charities, climate, water, health,  animal rights, food banks.  We take our direction from author Peter Singer (The Most Good You Can Do, Ethics in the Real World).” 

In the future, Mr. Youngquist hopes for a positively changed world with improvements in “equality in critical needs- not just medical care, but food, housing, education etc.” He also envisions progress in having “full focus on combating climate change” and getting holdouts to join, as well as “advocacy for those in developed countries.” 

When asked what brings a smile to his face and makes him grateful, Mr. Youngquist answers that people’s happiness and health bring him joy.

Thank you, Mr. Youngquist, for your endorsement and support in the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s vision. PSMF would not be who we are without you!

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