Healthy Living in the North

I came for… I stayed because… with Rai Read

Rai and her horse are check to check. The sun beams into the picture.

Rai spending quality time with her horse, Macy, on a sunny day.

Recently, I’ve noticed a common theme in my conversations with Northern Health staff! Many staff members planned to come to the North for a short time, but have stayed for a lot longer. Meet one such person: Rai Read, Elderly Service Clinician, who’s based in Terrace. Rai is from England and came to Northern Health in 2011.

I came for…

Honestly, my husband and I came to Terrace thanks to Google Maps. We immigrated to Canada in 2008, and originally moved to Edmonton. Our picture of Canada was a country filled with mountains and trees, and that was not our experience there. Edmonton wasn’t the place for us, and we decided to see what opportunities were available elsewhere.

Two women are horseback with the backs to the camera. They're in a flat, sandy area with mountains and blue sky in the background.

A horseback ride with friends near Thornhill.

We wanted a smaller community with outdoor space to raise our son. Since we were unfamiliar with the area, we spent time looking at photos and maps to learn more. After searching online, we found job postings in Terrace, and I was the successful applicant. If it wasn’t for Google Maps and the internet, I never would have found out about Terrace and moved here.

I stayed because…

For me, a big factor is the innovation at Northern Health. They are constantly looking for ways to change and improve. Leadership supports innovation and encourages staff to learn new things. We have developed new programs and processes that have been extremely beneficial for patients and staff. Having rural and remote communities means that we need to be really creative in how we deliver care, and using telehealth allows us to easily collaborate with different professions and experts.

A boy of approximately 10 stands in front of several paintings, which are hanging on the wall.

Rai’s son Dylan at the Terrace Art Gallery attending local artist Mitchell’s Brager’s exhibit.

At Northern Health, we are fortunate to have lots of strong female leaders. From our CEO, Cathy Ulrich, to my direct manager, Clare Hart. As a woman, it makes me feel empowered knowing our organization supports females to grow and develop. I’m lucky to have such a great manager, and I’m proud to be part of her team.

I’m not into fishing, kayaking, or skiing, but Terrace has much more to offer. We have a fabulous farmers’ market, and options for arts and culture. It’s a great place for our son to grow up. There’s truly something for everyone, and I have no intention of going anywhere else.

 

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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3D1P: Drugs, Dinos, Dinner, and a Pig… Another unique medical conference in Tumbler Ridge

The conference's organization team waits for participants at the registration booth.

The conference’s organization team waits for participants at the registration booth. Left to right: Dr. Charles Helm, Heather Gummow, Jayleen Emery, and Kirsten Quinlan.

The third annual 3D Conference – Drugs, Dinos, and Dinner (now 3D1P for the one pig (1P) that was roasted) was held in Tumbler Ridge from May 31-June 2, 2019. Nearly 70 physicians, pharmacists, and allied health professionals registered. On the Saturday, that number swelled to over 120 with spouses and families joining for the pig roast at the Lions Flatbed Creek Campground. To the best of our knowledge, this was the largest ever medical gathering in northeastern BC.

Conference participants were treated to ten hours of stimulating talks featuring:

  • Dr. Tom Perry, Dr. Rita McCracken, and Stephanie Song of the Therapeutics Initiative. The Therapeutics Initiative is a UBC-based think tank that rigorously analyzes evidence on which medications work and which don’t.
  • Internationally renowned speakers Dr. Tom Finucane and Dr. Robin McKenzie journeyed all the way from Boston, Massachusetts. They delivered outstanding presentations on matters like antibiotic overuse and how routine, current treatment of Type 2 diabetes is open to criticism.
  • Dr. Onyema Ohiaeri spoke about ways to address the opioid crisis.
  • Dr. James Wilkie continued the tradition of a medical resident presenting a polypharmacy case.
  • Charissa Tonnesen and Dr. Charles Helm presented on local Tumbler Ridge medical and health-related initiatives.
  • Seven resource booths provided extra learning opportunities, all completely free of pharmaceutical industry involvement.
A female presenter is in front of a room of participants. A screen is behind her with her presentation slides.

Dr. Robin McKenzie presenting to the participants.

There were also social activities surrounding the educational part of the conference. They had a healthy living and activity focus, with tours to Kinuseo Falls, morning fitness runs and swimming, Zumba classes, and, for the kids, it was all about Dinosaur Camp! Museum staff provided them with an unforgettable experience over two mornings. All in all, a unique learning environment was created, cementing the reputation of Tumbler Ridge as a family-friendly conference destination with a special ambience.

At the end of the memorable weekend, participant evaluation forms reflected the high satisfaction rate for the conference. There were even suggestions that 3D1P should become a provincial event in 2020.

Dr. Ronald Chapman, Northern Health’s Vice President of Medicine, was one of the special guests at 3D1P. After the event, he commented that: “The 3D conference was very well organized and the lectures were exceptional. I was delighted that I attended.”

It takes a community to put on a conference like this, and well over 25 volunteers went the extra mile to make it happen. The organizing committee (Charles Helm, Heather Gummow, Kirsten Quinlan, and Jayleen Emery) are enormously grateful to all of the volunteers and businesses that contributed.

For more information, please contact:

Charles Helm

About Charles Helm

Charles Helm has been a family physician in Tumbler Ridge since 1992. He immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1986. He is the author of seven books on the Tumbler Ridge area, two on the history of the northern Rockies, and one on dinosaurs for kids. He has been an active explorer in the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society, designing, building and maintaining hiking trails. His palaeontological interests, expressed through the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, have led to numerous fossil discoveries and scientific articles. He was instrumental in the successful proposal that led to the creation of the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, the newest UNESCO site in western Canada. He and his wife Linda have two children, Daniel and Carina.

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Selfies with the CEO: Fort St. John Community Action Team

From left to right, Cathy Ulrich, NH CEO; Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair; and Julianne Kucheran, Community Consultant, Urban Matters smile into the camera as a meeting breaks behind them.

L-R: Cathy Ulrich, NH CEO; Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair; Julianne Kucheran, Community Consultant, Urban Matters.

Welcome to my new blog series: Selfies with the CEO! As President and CEO of Northern Health, I have the opportunity to be involved with a wide variety of the amazing work being done in the North to improve the health and well-being of our residents. I get to travel the region, meet with a variety of staff, stakeholders, and partners, and be a part of projects, events, and meetings that make Northern Health an organization that I’m proud to lead.

During my travels across the North, I’m going to invite people to take a quick photo with me, so I can highlight some of the dedicated people, great work, and inspiring stories that I hear about.

Last week, the NH Board of Directors held their June meeting in Fort St. John, and we had the honour of hearing a presentation from Community Action Team (CAT) members about local efforts to tackle the opioid crisis.

The Fort St. John CAT includes representatives from more than 20 stakeholder groups and organizations whose goal it is to coordinate and communicate overdose response work in the city. This work includes:

  • Education, awareness, and partnerships
  • Intervention planning
  • Exploring treatment, recovery, and after care in Fort St. John
  • Strengthening the collaboration of the Fort St. John CAT

Thank you to Julianne Kucheran, Community Consultant for Urban Matters, and Amanda Trotter, Executive Director of Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society, for your great presentation!

More information on CATs and the response to the overdose crisis can be found on the BC Ministry of Health website.

Cathy Ulrich

About Cathy Ulrich

Cathy became NH president and chief executive officer in 2007, following five years as vice president, clinical services and chief nursing officer for Northern Health. Before the formation of Northern Health, she worked in a variety of nursing and management positions in Northern B.C., Manitoba, and Alberta. Most of her career has been in rural and northern communities where she has gained a solid understanding of the unique health needs of rural communities. Cathy has a nursing degree from the University of Alberta, a master’s degree in community health sciences from the University of Northern BC, and is still actively engaged in health services research, teaching and graduate student support.

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Our People: Spotlight on Rosalind Layton, NH Connections

Rosalind, a middle-aged woman, smiles into the camera.

Rosalind Layton, NH Connections Operations Manager

One of the challenges of delivering health care in Northern BC is the distance that separates us. We love our nature, our wilderness, and our room to breathe, but this lifestyle also means being hours from neighbouring communities and their services.

Luckily for people who need to travel to their health care appointments, there’s Northern Health (NH) Connections. This shuttle service is operated by Diversified Transportation and runs all over the North, offering affordable transportation to those who need it, with buses captained by safe and compassionate drivers!

Behind the scenes, working tirelessly to ensure the fleet is organized and happy, is an incredibly humble, kind, camera-shy individual named Rosalind (Ros) Layton. Ros, the NH Connections Operations Manager, believes wholeheartedly in the program, and sees the benefits it’s brought to so many Northerners throughout the years!

Here’s a little of Ros’s background story and some of her thoughts on NH Connections:

Why did you choose your career with Diversified Transportation/NH Connections?

My last career at a local radio station was very stressful, so I took some time off to reflect on what I wanted out of a career. Northern Health Connections posted a position for a call centre representative and I jumped on it. I got to know the team and the program, and I loved it. Eight months later, I became the Call Centre Supervisor.

What keeps you at NH Connections?

I love the clients! It’s so rewarding to know that we’re helping people.

What would you say to anyone interested in a career with NH Connections?

The company is wonderful. They truly believe in helping staff members grow and succeed.

What do you like about the North?

My whole family lives in the North, specifically Prince George. The people are very friendly and the region is beautiful.

What do you think you bring most to the NH Connections team?

I try to put everybody else first. My team and the clients are the most important part of the job to me, so I try to prioritize them over… well, anything!

What is something that someone might not know about you?

I was recently awarded the BC Transit Superstar Award!

What is your favourite thing to do outside of work?

I love to spend time with my grandson. He plays basketball and football, so you can usually find me cheering him on at games!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

BEING PAMPERED!!!

Thank you, Rosalind, for everything that you do for NH Connections, and for caring so deeply about the program, the drivers, and our riders!

Visit the NH Connections page for more information or to book your trip today.

Fiona MacPherson

About Fiona MacPherson

Fiona MacPherson was born in Glasgow Scotland, but has spent most of her life in Prince George. She's spent the majority of her career at Northern Health in the IMIT department as a Project Manager, but most recently moved into the Communications department as the Lead for Northern Health Connections and Special Projects. Fiona loves to volunteer in her community and can be found at the local hockey arenas on the weekends watching both her boys play hockey.

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I came for… I stayed because… with Clare Hart

Clare smiles into the camera. Her brown and white horse is directly behind her. Mountains and forest is further in the background.

Clare with her horse, Graffiti.

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll be familiar with the common theme I’ve uncovered among many Northern Health staff: many of them had planned to come to the North for a short time, but have stayed for a lot longer! Meet one such person, Clare Hart, Director of Specialized Services for the Northwest, based in Terrace. Clare is from England and came to Northern Health in 2009.

I came for…

I was born in a coal mining village in the Northern part of England. It’s an industrial area that is not very clean. Growing up, I always dreamed of living somewhere green, with fresh air and nice woodlands.

I studied to become a registered nurse and had worked in different emergency room positions in England. When we were looking to move, there were a few different countries that needed nurses. English is the only language I speak, so that eliminated quite a few countries. Another big factor was that I wanted the time difference to allow me to talk to my family in England at somewhat normal times.

At that time, I had three children and wanted them to grow up in an area with different opportunities and be close to nature. We chose Terrace because of the job opportunities and natural beauty of the area. We’re surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes, and an abundance of fresh air.

On top of a mountain, Clare smiles in front of a helicopter. She is surrounded by snowy mountains.

Taking a helicopter ride around Terrace to see all the scenery.

I stayed because…

My children have easily settled into life in Terrace. The schools are smaller and my children felt very welcomed from the moment we arrived. Community members have embraced us, and we have built a network of friends that feel more like family.

I really enjoy the outdoors and in the winter I like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I love that I can pack a picnic and drive in any direction and have quality time outdoors with my family. We have a dog, horse, and a variety of other animals that are a huge part of my life.

I have been able to advance my career in Terrace. I started out as an emergency room nurse at Mills Memorial Hospital and have transitioned to a psychiatric nurse, team lead, manager of mental health and substance use, and now director of specialized services. I feel extremely appreciated by my team and other colleagues. I really appreciate that they always make me feel welcome, like I was born and raised here.

 

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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Northern Table: An Elder’s impact on community food security

Elder Semiguul sits on a boat, smiling at the camera.

Metlakalta Elder Semiguul (Fanny Nelson).

Not having enough food to eat affects one in six children living in Canada. This can impact a child’s physical, mental, and social health.

The effects of food insecurity on health

Household food insecurity” means not having access to food because of inadequate income, and it’s connected to negative health and well-being. Those who experience food insecurity are at an increased risk for health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, depression, and suicidal thoughts [1]. However, amidst these challenges, there are people who are making a difference in building community and household food security.

One Elder making a difference

Elder Semiguul (Fanny Nelson) is from Metlakatla, a First Nations community near Prince Rupert. Metlakatla’s population is about 80 people and it’s only accessible by boat or plane. Semiguul’s parents taught her how to harvest traditional foods (gathering seaweed, digging clams, and picking berries) as well as how to prepare them.

Today, Semiguul regularly takes family and community members with her when she goes harvesting. Back at home, she prepares these foods and teaches others how to prepare them too.

“I teach them to gather and put away enough food to last, so that they don’t have a tough time in the winter months,” says Semiguul.

Semiguul and another person are on a rock shore, looking for food. Semiguul is handing down a bucket.

Semiguul regularly takes family and community members with her when she harvests traditional foods.

Learning from our Elders

Elders have a lot to teach us about how to live off the land and waters, and about values such as generosity and caring for the environment. Reigniting harvesting strategies that have worked for millennia is called Indigenous food sovereignty. It’s an important part of ensuring community members have access to healthy foods that are sustainable and build community self-reliance (community food security).

First Nations traditional foods

First Nations traditional foods are nutritious and some have been used by Elders for generations.

“My mom told me that black currants would reduce a fever,” shares Semiguul. “I have put a spoon of black currant jam in water and it works. The fever goes down. I also gave seaweed daily to someone who had low iron and it helped.”

Respecting traditional territory and teachings

If you want to gather foods from the land, it’s important to speak with Elders or the local First Nation on whose traditional territory you are on, to learn about respectful food gathering practices. For example, Semiguul shares with children, “only take want you need to last from season to season. Break off the ends of the seaweed and leave it there as it is the seed for next year.”

More food security information

Here are some other programs that are building community food security in the region:

If you’d like to learn more about household food insecurity, take a look this three-part blog series on household food insecurity:

  1. What is household food insecurity?
  2. Food costing in BC
  3. A call to action

[1] PROOF food insecurity policy research.

Victoria Carter

About Victoria Carter

Victoria works in Northern Health's Aboriginal health program as the lead for engagement and integration. She is an adopted member of the Nisga’a nation and was given the name “Nox Aama Goot” which means “mother of good heart.” In her work she sees herself as an ally working together with Aboriginal people across the north to improve access to quality health care. She keeps herself well by honouring the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of her life through spending time with her friends and family, being in nature and working on her own personal growth.

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Foodie Friday: Enjoy B.C.’s bounty this summer

Grilled corn and tomatoes on a table.

How are you enjoying B.C.’s bounty this long weekend? Grill some local corn, pull some tomatoes from the vine, and give Marianne’s salad a try!

Summertime in B.C. is awesome! We can get outside and enjoy our favourite activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and swimming throughout our amazing province. It’s also a great time to up our healthy eating game as our gardens, farmers markets, and grocery stores are filled with fresh B.C. produce! I know I can hardly wait for those summer months when I can finally sink my teeth into B.C.-grown nectarines, raspberries, corn on the cob, and more.

There are many benefits to enjoying B.C.-grown fruits and vegetables

  • Local produce is the freshest produce you can buy – it’s picked ripe and ready to eat and delivered to you quickly, especially if it’s coming from your own backyard! This means it tastes better, looks better, and retains more nutrients.
  • Local produce is better for the environment – fruit and vegetables grown in other countries have to travel long distances and require more packaging to make it to your plate.
  • Choosing B.C. produce supports our local economies – when you choose B.C. produce at the grocery store or shop at your local farmers market you are supporting those producers in your community.

Whether you grow your own, visit your local farmers market, or shop at the grocery store, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the bounty of B.C. And what better time to do so than this B.C. Day long weekend! If you are hosting a BBQ, having a lakeside picnic, or going to a potluck, try out this crowd-pleasing salad. It’s packed full of flavour and uses a variety of produce you can find growing in our awesome province.

Happy B.C. Day everyone!

Salad and dressing

This grilled corn, arugula, and couscous salad is a celebration of B.C. produce. Enjoy it at your next BBQ, lakeside picnic, or family gathering!

Grilled corn, arugula, and couscous salad

Adapted from The Wellness Kitchen Cookbook, by Paulette Lambert, RD

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup water
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut from cob
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ⅓ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Dressing

  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. In a large salad bowl, toss couscous, arugula, tomatoes, corn, avocado, pumpkin seeds, cranberries. Set aside.
  3. For the dressing, in a blender or food processor, add basil, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  4. To serve, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Tips

  • Keep the dressing and salad separate until you are ready to serve to avoid soggy arugula.
  • You can also replace the couscous with quinoa or millet to make it gluten-free.
Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

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Poverty and health – an unbreakable bond?

I must remain a force for change

Local graffiti: “I must remain a force for change.”

World Poverty Day, which fell on October 17 this year, doesn’t spark fundraising walks or appeals for funds but it’s still an important health promotion campaign. As poverty is a major factor in determining the level of health that people can achieve, policies and actions that help to reduce or eliminate poverty will improve health. It’s so well recognized and understood that the World Health Organization declared October 17 as World Poverty Day in an effort to focus attention globally on the issue of poverty. This day is intended to give people living in poverty an opportunity to speak and act on the problems emerging from poverty and destitution.

Understanding the connection between social factors, such as poverty and health, challenges us to think outside of the health care box. We tend to think of our heath care services as the critical intervention that determines whether we are sick or healthy. Yet, many people are unaware that illness, disease and injury start outside of the health care system. Our health is shaped by the conditions in which we live, the levels of education and income in our families, whether our neighbourhoods and workplaces are safe. Poor families are often trapped in low-income employment and living in unsafe neighbourhoods. They live without many of the essentials of life that many of us may take for granted.

Seeing how poverty directly impacts the health of individuals also allows us to see the important role of health in building healthier communities that step outside of the health care services “box.” When people are exposed to increased health risks because of poverty, or when we lose them to premature death or to chronic diseases, we lose valuable community assets that could have made important contributions to our local economies and to a rich and vibrant social fabric.

Finding ways to reduce poverty is a challenge, in part because it can become a vicious cycle. For example, we have many children in our region who live in poverty, who go to school hungry. The capacity of children to learn and acquire the education that would help them escape poverty in the future is compromised by the poverty they live under in the present.

So, while World Poverty Day doesn’t ask us to contribute from our wallets, it is looking to collect something different, something equally valuable: our time and attention. Each of us can ask ourselves, what can we do to help reduce and eliminate poverty in the communities we call home?

For more information please visit the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. This coalition consists of community and non-profit groups, faith groups, health organizations, First Nations and Aboriginal organizations, businesses, labour organizations, and social policy groups. They have 30 coalition members and 350 supporting organizations whose goal it is to work together for a poverty-free BC.

Theresa Healy

About Theresa Healy

Theresa is the regional manager for healthy community development with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about the capacity of individuals, families and communities across northern B.C. to be partners in health and wellness. As part of her own health and wellness plan, she has taken up running and, more recently, weight lifting. She is also a “new-bee” bee-keeper and a devoted new grandmother. Theresa is an avid historian, writer and researcher who also holds an adjunct appointment at UNBC that allows her to pursue her other passionate love - teaching.

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