Healthy Living in the North

Congratulations to NH’s newest Health Care Hero, Barb Crook

Barb accepting her Health Care Hero Award

Congratulations to Barb Crook, Mackenzie’s Health Service Administrator on receiving this year’s Health Care Hero award for Northern Health!

Every year, the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) recognizes some of the outstanding and inspiring health care employees and projects with the BC Health Care Awards. This year, we are pleased to share that Barb Crook, a long-time nurse and current Health Service Administrator (HSA) for Northern Health in Mackenzie, BC, has been honoured as NH’s Health Care Hero!

HEABC created a video that profiles Barb’s amazing career, from beginning her nursing career over 40 years ago in New Westminster and working as a front line nurse in Mackenzie for 26 years to completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and becoming Health Service Administrator for Mackenzie.

I also recently chatted with Barb to offer my congratulations and learn a bit more!

What does this Health Care Hero award mean to you?
I’m very honoured to be recognized. I’ve been at Northern Health for 38 years. I nursed for 26 years and then became manager. I always loved bedside nursing but have enjoyed managing people. If I’m a healthcare hero for Mackenzie, it’s because my staff are just as much a hero as I am. It takes a whole team to keep a place running and give everybody the excellent care that we do.

What’s the highlight of your career?
In recent years, being the manager, I love honouring my staff with long-service awards and staff appreciation. I cook seafood lasagna and a meat lasagna and feed them lunch, and give them their pins and a rose. I always love that day. Everybody loves the lasagna!

It was also exciting in my career to complete my degree and graduate from the University of Victoria when I was 52 years old. I was a nursing diploma girl from the 1970s and always said I would get my degree one day. My son phoned and reminded me the day my youngest graduated. I moved out of acute care to become the health service administrator and signed up at UVIC to do my degree by correspondence; it was a busy first four years in this world!

You’ve been in health care for a long time! What would you say is one thing people can do to improve their health?
I do appreciate the new generation and the boundaries they have in their life. They don’t live to work, they work to live. I struggled with that work/life balance myself. There are many times I should say no for my own health or balance, but I would always jump in the back of the ambulance or work another shift.

On behalf of Northern Health, congratulations Barb!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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Congratulations Karen Skarpnes, NH’s Health Care Hero!

Karen Skarpnes receiving her award.

Karen Skarpnes (centre), 2012 Health Care Hero for Northern Health, pictured with Michael Marchbank, HEABC President & CEO (left) and Betsy Gibbons, HEABC Board Chair (right), receiving her plaque and Gold Apple. (Photo courtesy of www.bchealthcareawards.ca).

Last week, Northern Health’s very own Karen Skarpnes, was recognized as a Health Care Hero at the Excellence in BC Health Care Awards, presented by the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Karen is a physiotherapist at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, and started her work there in 1979. You can watch HEABC’s video about the amazing work she does for her community and why she was awarded with the very well-deserved Gold Apple.

I had a conversation with Karen to talk about the award and get her own words about the work she does, the people she works with and the importance of sharing innovations and resources across our province.

How did you come to win this award?

It is a peer-nominated award, so I’m very grateful to my peer who nominated me. It’s a lot of work to put one of those nominations together.

What work and projects have led up to this?

One of the focuses of my practice has been to look for some prevention solutions to various injuries or difficulties that I see a repeating pattern of.

Most recently, I worked with Judy Rae, the oncology nurse in Prince Rupert; Elaine Lohnes, the exercise leader; and Joan Patriquin, an RN and the coach for the Rainbow Warriors, to develop a weight training program for women after breast cancer surgery.  We based that on work that had previously been done, but introducing the program to the Prince Rupert audience. We needed to find funding to do that.

Before that, I was working with frail older adults, along with a colleague, Tanya Boudier, an NH occupational therapist. We felt that frail older adult falls prevention program would be important to introduce to Prince Rupert. Again, this was not our original work, but us taking other work and incorporating it in the Prince Rupert area. Tanya and I managed to get grant money to do a pilot project on falls prevention in the residential care facility. We perceived a need, looked for who had begun this work, and approached them to see if we could get information. In this case, we collaborated with Dr. Vicky Scott, a fabulous researcher in Victoria, who invited us to be part of the BC coalition, a collaborative group on falls prevention in BC.

Even before that, I worked for about 10 years with the local swim program, developing a program with Margaret Harris, another physiotherapist in Prince Rupert. We looked at harm reduction for young competitive swimming around shoulder injuries, and developed a land-based program for preventive stretches and strengthening exercises to encourage better muscle balance and improve posture.

What is this award about to you?

This award is about collaboration and seeking the best practice that we know about that’s out there. There is some fabulous work being done provincially and nationally that we can access easier than 20 years ago and a lot of good folks working in the health authorities that seem willing to share. That’s what keeps me excited.

How was the Awards ceremony?

I felt very honoured to be in a room with the other recipients and their fabulous projects – there is some fabulous work being done around B.C. I think it would be great for others in Northern Health to take a look at that HEABC website to see what our colleagues are doing around the province. It’s another opportunity to network together or contact folks that are doing like work, or work that we’ve recognized could be useful to be applied in our areas.

On behalf of everyone at Northern Health, congratulations Karen!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care. (NH Blog Admin)

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