Healthy Living in the North

Well wishes to two retiring NH Board Directors

Northern Health’s Board of Directors recognized two retiring long-time members at its latest regular meeting held in Prince George this week.

Director Ben Sander from Dawson Creek, and Director Maurice Squires from the Nisga’a Valley, have been members of the NH Board since 2012, and their terms expire December 31. Both were recognized by Board Chair Colleen Nyce for service to health care in the North.

“Ben and Maurice have made valuable contributions to the strategic direction of Northern Health over the past six years,” said Nyce. “We thank them for sharing their individual expertise and points of view for the benefit of health care in the North, and wish them all the best as they retire from this service.”

Retiring Director Maurice Squires sitting between NH CEO Cathy Ulrich and Board Chair Colleen Nyce.

Retiring Director Maurice Squires (centre) from Nisga’a Valley, with NH CEO Cathy Ulrich (left) and Board Chair Colleen Nyce (right).

Retiring Director Ben Sander sitting in between NH CEO Cathy Ulrich and Board Chair Colleen Nyce.

Retiring Director Ben Sander (centre) from Dawson Creek, with NH CEO Cathy Ulrich (left) and Board Chair Colleen Nyce (right).

Eryn Collins

About Eryn Collins

Eryn Collins has been with Northern Health for more than 12 years, as a member of the Communications team, a coordinator for NH Health Emergency Management, and as the current Acting Regional Manager of Public Affairs & Media Relations. Eryn enjoys learning about, and increasing public awareness of, the valuable work of NH staff in a broad range of program and service areas that support health care needs across Northern BC - her home since 1998. Outside of work, Eryn enjoys time with family and friends, and raising a young son to love this part of BC as much as she does.

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Research and Quality Conference recognizes northern researchers and quality improvement work

Aashka Jani accepts the student prize from Martha MacLeod.

Aashka Jani (left), accepts the student prize from Martha MacLeod.

The 2018 Northern BC Research and Quality Conference, held in Prince George November 6 to 8, celebrated northern research and quality improvement work.

As part of the conference, a group of judges and conference attendees chose the best student poster, research poster, and quality improvement storyboard. (Storyboards are a way to show detailed information in an easy-to-read format.)

UNBC student Aashka Jani and her team won the student award for a research poster titled, “Cardiometabolic Risk and Inflammatory Profile of Patients with Enduring Mental Illness.”

The research poster award was won by Dr. Erin Wilson, Family Nurse Practitioner and UNBC Assistant Professor, and Dr. Martha MacLeod, Professor, School of Nursing and School of Health Sciences at UNBC. Their research project was titled, “The Influence of Knowing Patients in Providing Comprehensive Team-Based Primary Care.”

Denise Cerquiera-Pages, a Primary Care Assistant and Practice Support Coach from Masset, and her team won the quality improvement storyboard award for a project titled, “Decreasing the Number of Failed MSP Claims in MOIS Using Correct Codes and Patients’ Information.”

Erin Wilson and Martha MacLeod receiving the research poster award.

Erin Wilson (left) and Martha MacLeod receiving the research poster award.

Denise Cerquiera-Pages accepts the quality improvement storyboard award from Martha MacLeod.

Denise Cerquiera-Pages (left), accepts the quality improvement storyboard award from Martha MacLeod.

Tamara Reichert

About Tamara Reichert

Tamara is the communications advisor for the innovation and development commons at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects with the research, quality improvement, clinical simulation, and education teams. Born and raised in Prince George, Tamara grew up on a ranch where she rode horses, played with farm animals, built forts, and raided the family garden. She enjoys spending time travelling, hiking, cooking, reading, and cheering for her favourite sports teams.

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A Northern woman’s long life comes to a close

Catherine William celebrating her 103rd birthday with balloons.On November 19, Catherine William died at Stuart Lake Hospital in Fort St. James, only two days after celebrating her 103rd birthday.

“Catherine had a wonderful birthday surrounded by family and friends,” says Amanda Johnson, Head Nurse at Stuart Lake Hospital.

Northern Health offers its sincere condolences to Catherine’s family and friends. Her family has given permission for her biography, below, to be shared.

Catherine William was born on November 17, 1915 in Tache (also called Tachie), 60 kilometres northwest of Fort St. James. Her parents were Alphonse Mattice and his wife Eugenie Prince, and she had four brothers and three sisters. A member of the Tl’azt’en Nation, Catherine belonged to the Lusilyoo (Frog) Clan.

She was baptized at age seven in 1922, and religion was always a big part of her life. She always had a good word for everyone and would pray for people, regardless of the circumstance.

Catherine was a survivor of the Lejac residential school in Fraser Lake, and she often spoke about it, remembering the playroom there.

She was married for 50 years to Francis William, and together they had six children. Catherine was a home care worker, taking care of children from broken homes. Caring for people and keeping them safe was important to her: she was always the first one in line to volunteer to search for missing people.

Catherine was a resourceful woman who taught herself many skills, from crocheting gloves for her children to making fishing nets. She enjoying cooking, nature, and being a homemaker. Exploring the outdoors was also something she loved. Sam, her nephew (also a resident at Stuart Lake Hospital), remembers walking the back roads with Catherine and her husband on hunting and fishing expeditions.

Catherine passed away peacefully on November 19, and her funeral was held in Fort St. James on November 24.

Anne Scott

About Anne Scott

Anne is a communications officer at Northern Health; she lives in Prince George with her husband Andrew Watkinson. Her current health goals are to do a pull-up and more than one consecutive “real” push-up. She also dreams of becoming a master’s level competitive sprinter and finding a publisher for her children’s book on colourblindness. Anne enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, sugar-free chocolate, and napping -- sometimes all on the same day!

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Northern Doctor’s Day: Honoured retirees

Retiring doctors posing at a recent baquet.The 42nd Annual Northern Doctor’s Day retirees’ banquet was held on November 2 to honour physicians retiring in Prince George. Congratulations to the retiring doctors, and thank you for your years of serving Northerners!

Back row (L -R): Dr. Donald MacRitchie, Dr. John Smith, Dr. Bill Simpson, Dr. John Ryan, Dr. Jan Burg (Retirees), and Dr. Amin Lakhani (President of the Prince George Medical Staff Association)

Front row (L – R): Dr. Tony Preston (Prince George Medical Director), Dr. Marie Hay (Retiree), Dr. Ian Schokking (UHNBC Department Head Family Practice, Continuing Medical Education Physician Lead), Dr. Laura Brough (UHNBC Chief of Staff)

 

Sanja Knezevic

About Sanja Knezevic

Sanja is a communications advisor with Northern Health’s medical affairs department and is based in Prince George. She moved to Canada in 1995 from former Yugoslavia to Fort Nelson where she lived for a few years before moving to Prince George in 2000. Sanja enjoys photography, curling up with a good book, cooking and spending time with her friends and family.

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Northern physician wins 2nd international research award

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen accepting the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize for her research on vitamins and memory.

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen, second from left, accepts the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert Prize for her research on vitamins and memory.

Dr. Jacqueline Pettersen, a neurologist in the Northern Health region and an associate professor in the Northern Medical Program, recently won the Dr. Wolfgang Hevert prize for a research study she plans on the combined effects of two vitamins on attention and memory.

“I’m interested in the possibility that vitamin D and vitamin K2 may work together to help keep our brains functioning well,” said Dr. Pettersen. “There have been studies on the effect of Vitamin D alone, but not on the combination of D and K2.”

In fact, Dr. Pettersen’s own research has shown the benefits of vitamin D for brain health. A study she carried out showed significant memory improvement for people who took 4000 IU of vitamin D each day for 18 weeks. That study also won Dr. Pettersen an international award, the 2018 Fritz Wörwag Research Prize.

Most people have heard of vitamin D, but vitamin K2 might be less familiar. It’s found in animal foods, such as butter from grass-fed cows, or eggs from free-range chickens, and in fermented foods, such as natto (a Japanese fermented soy food), as well as some cheeses. Vitamin K2 was plentiful in traditional, non-industrial diets, but it’s more rare in modern diets. Vitamin K2 generally improves bone and heart health, and vitamin D seems to work with it to strengthen these effects.

“Northern BC residents have been incredibly supportive of research in the north,” said Dr. Pettersen. “I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest generated from my prior vitamin D work as well as this upcoming planned study on vitamin D and K2.”

While the study is still in the planning phases, Dr. Pettersen hopes to start recruiting and enrolling interested participants in early 2019, with final results available within two years. Congratulations to Dr. Pettersen!

Anne Scott

About Anne Scott

Anne is a communications officer at Northern Health; she lives in Prince George with her husband Andrew Watkinson. Her current health goals are to do a pull-up and more than one consecutive “real” push-up. She also dreams of becoming a master’s level competitive sprinter and finding a publisher for her children’s book on colourblindness. Anne enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, sugar-free chocolate, and napping -- sometimes all on the same day!

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Local physician recognized for an innovative workplace culture

Garry Knoll standing in front of a lake in the woods.

Dr. Garry Knoll was recently recognized by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council with the Quality Culture Trailblazer Award.

Local Prince George family physician Dr. Garry Knoll was recently honoured by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, winning an award for Quality Culture Trailblazer. Dr. Knoll is the President, Board Chair, and Physician Lead of the Prince George Division of Family Practice, and has been a family physician for over 35 years. He was recognized for creating a culture of quality improvement where staff are empowered and encouraged to innovate.

He has transformed care in Prince George by helping implement a renowned practice coaching program, championing team-based care and primary care homes, and supporting physician recruitment and retention. He is a leader, role model and mentor to many, caring for his patients in the hospital, visiting long-term care patients, and providing palliative care in his practice and at the Prince George Hospice House.

Dr. Knoll mentors new family physicians in Prince George through his role as a clinical assistant professor with the UBC Family Medicine Residency Program, where he is known for emphasizing the importance of person-centred care, and by recruiting them to join his practice.

Although he is nearing retirement, Dr. Knoll continues to work tirelessly to improve care practices, ensuring the legacy of his work will inspire health care providers in years to come. He will receive his award February 2019 during a reception at the Quality Forum 2019 in Vancouver.

Tamara Reichert

About Tamara Reichert

Tamara is the communications advisor for the innovation and development commons at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects with the research, quality improvement, clinical simulation, and education teams. Born and raised in Prince George, Tamara grew up on a ranch where she rode horses, played with farm animals, built forts, and raided the family garden. She enjoys spending time travelling, hiking, cooking, reading, and cheering for her favourite sports teams.

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“Catching people in the net of the team:” patient-centred care in practice

Headshot of Carey Mastre, Mental Health & Addictions Clinician in Mackenzie BC.For Carey Mastre, working in a patient-centred model makes total sense. She’s a Mental Health and Addictions Clinician in Mackenzie who trained in Calgary, AB, at a large not-for-profit agency.

“In practice, the expectation was that we would make contact with the patients’ doctors,” Carey says. “We were allowed to share information with each other, but the doctors and the mental health clinicians didn’t really have time for it. It was rarely fruitful…”

Carey started working with Northern Health in October 2016.

She was initially working offsite from the rest of the health care team, which wasn’t totally functional for her. In January 2018, she moved into the same building as the team and the primary care providers. Because they’re now located together, she can walk the patient to the doctor and vice versa. This has been particularly helpful for patients who are new to the community and for crises.

“At Northern Health, it’s so wonderful to have a scheduled time with the doctors and a working relationship to support client care,” Carey says. “We need to know and trust each other and trust each other’s judgment. Being co-located creates that sense of immediacy and we’re often able to better anticipate and meet the patient’s needs. Everything flows better.”

Another great thing about the team is the flow of information. There are clear ways to follow up with referrals and find out if appointments happened and to learn the outcome.

“It’s super helpful when you’re joining a team to have that regularity. Relationships are created far more quickly. There’s also so much culture to learn at Northern Health; belonging to a health care team allows you to become functional in your role much more quickly – so much is learned through osmosis,” Carey says.

There are two mental health and addictions care providers in Mackenzie and patients come to them either directly or through the doctor’s office.

On a health care team, the team members can also support the hospital, and help the patients when they transition out of hospital.

The team model ensures that “fewer clients fall through the cracks – people are typically caught in the net of the team,” Carey says. “We’re mentally prepared for care transitions and we can better anticipate needs.”

From her perspective, good things did happen in the old model – but she finds it far easier to work as part of a health care team in the new integrated model.

The team in Mackenzie in particular is “just so warm and inviting,” Carey says. “The leaders in Mackenzie really role-model ‘team’ — it’s just been the best thing.”

Bailee Denicola

About Bailee Denicola

Bailee is a communications advisor in the Primary Care Department and was born and raised in Prince George. She graduated from UNBC with an anthropology degree and loves exploring cultures and learning about people. When not at work, Bailee can be found hanging out with her dogs, building her house with her husband, or travelling the world.

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Volunteer translator saves the day in Dawson Creek

A headshot of George Holland, Operating Room Manager at Dawson Creek & District Hospital.

George Holland, Operating Room Manager at Dawson Creek & District Hospital, recently lived out the Northern Health value of innovation using his German translation skills to help assist a patient.

George Holland, the operating room manager at Dawson Creek & District Hospital, was recently recognized by his peers for living out the NH value of innovation: “Innovation: We will succeed in our work through seeking creative and practical solutions.”

An elderly traveller from Germany needed medical attention in Dawson Creek. She spoke no English and needed someone to translate so she could better understand her situation. George was on the volunteer translation list as an Austrian translator, and he can also speak German.

As soon as he joined the group and started translating, staff noticed the tension leaving the patient and her family.

“They knew where they had to go and what tests were going to happen,” said Donna Anderson, Registration Clerk. “A great experience for our visitors!”

Thank you, George, for demonstrating our values and providing exceptional care for patients and visitors!

Brandan Spyker

About Brandan Spyker

Brandan works in internal communications at NH. Born and raised in Prince George, Brandan started out in TV broadcasting as a technical director before making the jump into healthcare. Outside of work he enjoys spending quality time and travelling with his wife and daughter. He’s a techie and loves to learn about new smartphones and computers. He also enjoys watching and playing sports.

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Fire infographic

A dramatic infographic presents Northern Health’s response to the 2017 wildfires. Greg Marr, NH’s Regional Director, Medical Affairs, and Jason Jaswal, Prince George Director of Long Term Care and Support Services, presented it at the BC Health Care Leaders Conference in Vancouver.

infographic showing statistics during 2017 wildfires

Sincere thanks to everyone involved in supporting the northern wildfire response both this year and last year, including NH Emergency Management and all NH staff members and physicians, and thank you to Jason and Greg for highlighting these details!

Greg and Jason side by side in suits.

Greg Marr (L), NH’s Regional Director, Medical Affairs, and Jason Jaswal, Prince George Director of Long Term Care and Support Services, at the BC Health Care Leaders Conference in Vancouver.

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Diagnosis: Retiring. Here’s what retirement looks and feels like to two long term Prince George doctors.

As my co-worker, Bailee, and I walked down the street to meet up with and interview Drs. Garry and Susan Knoll, we jokingly bantered back and forth what we would do if we were retiring. The Knolls have been family doctors in Prince George for over 25 years, and they’ve finally made the decision to retire. Susan officially left her practice at the end of September and Garry is hoping to be done at his practice by January 2019.

“I bet they’re popping a big ol’ bottle of champagne and sailing to Tahiti!” I exaggerated.

Bailee, a tad more realistic than myself, mentioned something about being leaders in the medical community… something something? My mind was on a sailboat in Tahiti.

But, moments into the interview, I soon discovered, and probably should have predicted, Bailee was right. Even though the Knolls are parting from their full-time practices, the two doctors still have their stethoscopes on the heartbeat of the medical community. Here’s what each of them had to say on the topic of “retiring.”

susan knoll sitting on a bench with a statue, eating ice cream.What will you miss about practicing full time?

Susan:

I’ll miss my patients. I’ve been looking after them for 20+ years. We have a relationship with each other and we’ve been through a lot together.

I’ll also miss the camaraderie at the office. I have been sharing an office with Ed Turski for most of the years in Prince George and Lindsay Kwantes joined us about six years ago. Both were fantastic partners – we never even came close to an argument! And our MOA, Colleen Price looked after us and our patients very well. I think we all respected and liked each other. Lindsay moved to be near family this summer, so we recruited two new grads from our Residency Program, who I was privileged to oversee through their training. It made it somewhat easier to leave, knowing that our office remains in good hands. But it will still be hard, in some respects, to part ways with that “family”.

Garry:

I’ll miss feeling that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and all the fun I had in the office. I really enjoyed the intergenerational relationships we built, and working with everyone at the hospital. I just came from a meeting with my interprofessional team and it was really good – we’re really getting to know the team and what people bring to the table, which makes it tough to leave.

I’ll also miss being part of the forward progress our system is making. It’s nice to be a part of a plan from the beginning, and since switching to integrated primary and community care, it’s been like going to Mars! There’s no turning back. We’ve decided to commit to a plan that I’m confident it will be better for everyone in the long run. It feels like we’ve recently made such positive strides in the right direction.

What are you looking forward to most about being retired?

Susan:

Well I can tell you what I won’t miss! I won’t miss getting up to an alarm and rushing through rounds, then rushing to the office, and that feeling of always being late!

Now that I have a bit (a lot) more time, I’ve joined the Cantata Singers, which is great. I’m also able to hang out with my grandkids more and attend to all the “pieces of my wellness pie”! I’m looking forward to doing more travelling also.

Garry:

You know, as a doctor, you’re always in a rush and with a lot of time pressure. I won’t miss that. I also won’t miss all the documentation!

Are you planning to stay involved with the medical community in some way?

Garry:

I’m still going to work some shifts at the Nechako walk-in clinic and cover for other doctors’ vacations at my clinic. And I’m still going to help with the Prince George Divisions of Family Practice for a bit. We have a lot of friends in the medical community still, which makes it easy to stay connected. In Prince George, doctors have really good foresight and can grasp the ‘big picture’ of medicine. It keeps us very interested in what’s happening locally.

Susan:

I’ll still be doing a few shifts at the Nechako walk-in clinic as well. Prince George has a really unique medical community that makes us want to stay involved. About 40% of our Family Physicians were graduates of our Residency program here in Prince George – I don’t know anywhere else that’s like that.

garry knoll cycling on a road in the summer.When you’re both retired, will you be doing anything immediately to celebrate?

Susan:

Truthfully, the last day of work at my clinic just slipped by. When you’re in charge of making sure everything will run smoothly when you’re gone, it sort of sneaks up on you. I didn’t even have time to tell my patients or the medical office assistant that it was my last day! The clinic had a lovely celebration later.

Garry:

When I finish, we’re planning to go cross-country skiing for three weeks in the New Year! Honestly, when you’re in charge of a practice, you don’t really get a “clean cut.” In one way or another, you’re involved. I think the hardest thing will be when we both decide to hand in our licenses. That will be a tough day.

In your career, did you ever experience physician burnout or woes? Would you have any advice for medical students who might be experiencing something similar?

Susan:

I experienced a bit of burnout about 10 years ago. Luckily, I was able to recognize it, so I decided to get a coach and I discussed my values and what I hoped to get out of life. It was then that I decided to scale back the number of patients I was seeing in clinic, and added the part-time position of site director for the Family Practice Residency Program, Prince George site.

It’s so easy to get sucked into the vortex and just go, go, go. Some advice for new graduates and medical students: read my article on wellness. It’s important to keep a balance in life and not be afraid to make changes. Realize that good work is part of the balance, you’re contributing, and it makes you feel good.

Garry:

I’ve never had the burnout experience, although lately I have been thinking a lot about retirement! There have been times when I’ve felt frustrated, but I think any job has those.

The last 12 years I’ve been really focusing on finding a way forward for my practice, and the patients in the practice. I want patients to have a doctor that’s going to be there for the long term. Now that the practice has that, it makes it a LOT easier to step back.

Longitudinal care is so much better for patients and doctors – to have that long term relationship with their doctor. My hat’s off to the patients that have been there to educate residents over the last long years!

My advice for burnout: Self-reflection is important to be committed to. It’s important to receive feedback, and you need that group of people willing to give it in your professional and social life. You have to ask yourself, “Am I doing the things in life that align with my values?”

What was the biggest challenge for each of you both being general practitioners (family doctors)?

Garry:

I think the biggest challenge was getting time off together. It was always a big scheduling event. We cared for the same patients in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and so we always talked about them when we weren’t at work. When we moved to Prince George we didn’t have the same patients, so we didn’t have that connection. There are definitely upsides to always understanding each other’s work demands.

Susan:

For me, balancing the call of work and family was challenging. It actually became easier to overwork when the kids grew up, because they weren’t at home demanding our time. Overworking is easy when you both have busy schedules!

So, as it turns out, “retiring” to this pair of doctors is more about slowing down than anything else. Although there are no immediate plans of sailing towards Tahiti, it was genuinely satisfying to hear the praise and confidence they have for the direction northern BC healthcare is headed, and the people who are involved in moving it forward.

Thank you Garry and Susan for your interview time, and for leaving a lasting positive impact on your community!

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