Healthy Living in the North

I came for… I stayed because… with Robyn Turner

Robyn Turner skating on a frozen lake.I’ve recently noticed that many of the conversations I’ve had with multiple Northern Health staff have uncovered a common theme! These staff members were anticipating coming to the North for a short amount of time, but have stayed for a lot longer. I’m capturing some of these stories in a new series! See our first story, on Andrea Starck, here!

Robyn Turner, a Dietitian for Vanderhoof, Fort St James and Fraser Lake, is another person who never intended to stay in the North, but now calls it home! Robyn is from Victoria, BC and started at Northern Health in February 2016.

What brought you to Vanderhoof?

I was a newly graduated dietitian living in Victoria and there weren’t many opportunities for full time jobs. I started looking at available positions in other towns. I wasn’t actively looking for positions in the North, but I noticed the posting for a temporary dietitian for Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, and Fraser Lake. On a whim, I decided to apply for it.

Why have you stayed?

I have really appreciated the small team environment at work; everyone is friendly and welcoming. Team members are on a first name basis which makes working together easier. I also have a lot more opportunities here than I would elsewhere. The team appreciates my work and people are willing to help me when I ask.

Living in Vanderhoof, I have tried a lot of different activities that I never thought I would: I have learned how to snowmobile, attended a quilting retreat, and even walked in a local fashion show. There is a strong sense of community and a commitment to the citizens, which I really appreciate.

My position is now permanent and I don’t have any plans to leave. I enjoy it so much that I have even started trying to recruit my friends to come here as well!

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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I came for… I stayed because… with Andrea Starck

Andrea standing on the shore of a beach at the ocean.

Andrea on the beach in Masset during one of her trips to Haida Gwaii.

I’ve recently noticed that many of the conversations I’ve had with multiple Northern Health staff have uncovered a common theme! These staff members were anticipating coming to the North for a short amount of time, but have stayed for a lot longer. Meet one such person, Andrea Starck, Regional Director, Education and Training based in Prince George. Andrea is from Vancouver, BC and came to Northern Health in 1989.

I came for…

I had recently gotten married and we were looking to move out of the Lower Mainland. At that time, housing prices were increasing and we couldn’t afford to buy. My husband is an engineer and he was looking for employment in the pulp and paper industry. I was an experienced pediatrics nurse working in the emergency department at BC Children’s Hospital. Once we knew we were moving to Prince George, I called the pediatric floor at what was then Prince George Regional Hospital [now, the University Hospital of Northern BC]. After speaking with the head nurse, I was hired!

Andrea and her husband posing in the snow with their snowshoes on holding trekking poles.

Andrea and her husband Olaf snowshoeing by UNBC.

I stayed because…

I have had so many opportunities for career growth at Northern Health that I may not have had elsewhere. Throughout my nearly 30 years here I have worked in multiple nursing positions including pediatrics, maternity, labour and delivery, neonatal intensive care, public health, home care, and wound care. Using that knowledge and experience, I have been successful moving to different leadership positions including home care educator, professional practice lead, policy coordinator, regional manager of clinical education, and now my current role as regional director of education and training.

Through my different roles, I have been fortunate to travel across the region. I have visited nearly every hospital, health centre, long term care facility, and health unit operated by Northern Health. This has connected me with staff and shown me how they provide care in their community. It’s allowed me to understand what is happening in each community and what makes each community special. Along the way, I’ve built friendships with staff; now, when I travel to a community I’m always welcomed and shown people’s favourite things about their community.

Prince George has been a great place to raise our two children. We are close to nature and can easily go for a hike or snowshoe. Never having lived in such a small place before, it took me a while to get used to not having big city amenities. Over the years we embraced the North and have made this our home.  We’ve found that Northern BC’s wide open spaces, pristine lakes, and large tracts of wilderness are like nowhere else in the world – no traffic, no crowds, and salt-of-the-earth people.

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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Celebrating our values in action: Northern Health’s staff-award winners

Northern Health (NH) strives to make its values – empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation – the core of our way of being at work, and the basis for every interaction with our patients, residents, clients, and their families, as well as with each other. On April 3, 2019, NH celebrated individuals and teams that live these values every day, with the 3rd Annual Dr. Charles Jago Awards. Named after NH’s last Board Chair, “the Jagos” award one staff member, physician, or team for each value, and recognize many nominations along the way.

“Every year, I’m honoured to present these awards and inspired by the stories of staff living our values,” says Cathy Ulrich, NH’s President and CEO. “Health care environments are often challenging. The Jago Award nominees and winners demonstrate how to bring your best self to work despite these challenges. To see Jago Award nominations from across all levels and regions of the organization speaks to the dedication and commitment of Northern Health’s staff and physicians. I hope NH staff, physicians, and community members will join me in congratulating the 2019 winners.”

The 2019 Jago Award winners are:

Empathy: Jennifer Haas – Manager, Specialized Mental Health & Addiction Services (Terrace)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Empathy to Jennifer Haas.

“The clients we work with at the Intensive Case Management Team are individuals who face complex challenges, such as: housing, poverty, barriers to accessing health and social services, and have problematic or chronic substance use. These people are some of the most marginalized in our community, yet Jen has consistently shown that people with an addiction are human beings who, with the right support, can make a contribution to society. For example, when Jen begins work in the morning, it is not uncommon to see people sleeping on our ramp or in the backyard with a tent set up. Rather than tell them to ‘move along,’ she provides them with a welcoming space inside the building and invites them in for a cup of tea. With each interaction, she is able to authentically listen and relate.” – Jessica Gaus, Social Program Officer/Support Worker, Intensive Case Management Team

Respect: Theresa Healy – Lead, Capacity Development & Education, Indigenous Health (retired) (Prince George)

A plaque presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Respect to Theresa Healy.

“Theresa has been a dedicated and thoughtful employee of Northern Health for ten years. Broadly speaking, Theresa’s work has been with communities to address social determinants of health and improve the well-being of residents in the North. For the past year and a half, Theresa has worked with the Indigenous Health team developing a training curriculum aimed at fostering cultural safety within Northern Health, and the health system at large. Through this work, Theresa consistently demonstrates and lives Northern Health’s value of respect.” – Victoria Carter, Lead, Engagement and Integration, Indigenous Health

Collaboration: Dr. Anthon Meyer (Stuart Lake & Fort St. James)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Collaboration to Dr. Anthon Myer.

“Since he began work in the community of Fort St. James, Dr. Meyer has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving health care in the rural and remote communities we serve. Every day, his passion, vision, and expertise draw excitement and guide processes that build partnerships and improve the health outcomes to a level the community has never experienced. The foundation of his leadership is built on strong values that encompass empathy, respect, collaboration, and innovation. As the Medical Director, he leads by example and fosters these values in the group of physicians, inter-professional teams, and administrative staff that he works with. He has built partnerships with First Nations leaders that are based on honesty and respect and, as a result, the care model honours cultural diversity and focuses on improving health care inequities for our First Nations people. Dr. Meyer has dedicated his career to working in Northern, rural, and under-served communities, and, through partnerships, has drastically changed health outcomes for these communities.” – Vicky Monkman, Registered Nurse, Psychiatry

Innovation: Gene Saldana, Nuclear Medicine Technician (Fort St. John)

A plaque award presentation.

Cathy Ulrich, NH President and CEO (left) and Colleen Nyce, NH Board Chair (right) present the Jago Award for Innovation to Gene Saldana.

“Gene began working at Northern Health in September 2018. Within the first few weeks, he quickly recognized opportunities for improvement in processes, which would ultimately lead to an increase in patients he could see in a given day, while, at the same time, decreasing the amount of supplies the organization utilizes for these services. Gene’s ability to embrace the Northern Health values comes naturally, and he continues to be a value-added member of the team.” – Allison Smook, Business Analyst, Business Support

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Where can nursing take you? Discover Erin Wilson’s journey

Erin Wilson in the bushes, hiking.Nursing is one of the most rewarding careers in health care: You can work in a variety of areas and the opportunities for career advancement are endless. Erin Wilson’s nursing career of nearly 20 years has taken her across Western Canada and down many educational paths.

Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, Erin had an experience that helped shape her career choice: “A man with an intellectual disability worked with my dad. He was the most kind and generous person. He went to the hospital with calf pain and was sent home — his concerns were not validated. He ended up dying because of an undiagnosed blood clot. The unfair feeling of not being heard when asking for help has never left me.”

The many different career options available to nurses also appealed to Erin. “I wanted a career with a lot of opportunities. With nursing, you can work in hospitals or rural communities. You can also teach and conduct research.”

After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, Erin worked in Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba. This was a valuable learning opportunity for Erin on the inequalities and inequities faced by many First Nations communities.

“It was a fly-in community where only 30% of the residents had running water. We had to take a boat to get to the store,” she said. “I learned a lot about access to care, safe housing, and how systems impact people.”

After leaving Red Sucker Lake, Erin worked at other two-nurse stations in BC and in tertiary care in Manitoba. Tertiary care is a high level of hospital care that requires specialized equipment and knowledge.

In 2004, Erin enrolled in a Master’s of Science in Nursing – Nurse Practitioner (NP) program at UBC in Vancouver, while living and working in the Yukon during the summer months. She registered as a NP in BC in 2006, but didn’t move back to the province until late 2007, becoming one of the first nurse practitioners hired by Northern Health, where she worked at the Central Interior Native Health Society in Prince George.

In 2011, looking to further her research capacity, Erin was accepted into the first cohort of UNBC’s PhD in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences. She defended her dissertation in 2017 and is currently an assistant professor at UNBC’s School of Nursing. She also continues to practice one day a week as an NP.

“Practice is an essential link between teaching and research. It allows me to be engaged with what’s happening in our community and patient experiences while maintaining my practice,” said Erin. She’s currently involved with research studies examining NP practice, rural nursing, health inequities, and implementation science.

Not all nursing careers are the same, and Erin’s is a prime example of that. Her education and experience have taken her to various roles across Western Canada. What will she do next? Only time will tell!

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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It’s Pharmacy Awareness Month: Learn more about clinical pharmacists in the hospital

Jessie McIntosh working at a desk.

Jessie McIntosh in action.

March is Pharmacy Awareness Month, and as pharmacy residents at Northern Health, I and my colleague Jessica Manning wanted to let you know a little about the job that makes us excited to come to work each day.

What do we do?

Clinical pharmacists are drug experts involved in various areas of medication management, such as:

  1. Checking to make sure each drug is necessary, effective, and safe for each patient.
  • We check to make sure patients are getting the right drug at the right dose at the right time.
  • Patient age, weight, kidney and liver function, lab tests, drug interactions, allergies, and cost are just some of the things we look at to make sure a drug is right for a patient.
  1. Working with the healthcare team to make each patient’s drug regimen the best it can be:
  • Recommending medication changes to the prescriber.
  • Monitoring various medications and following up with medication changes.
  • Making sure patients are getting all the medications they usually take at home and need in the hospital.
  • Providing the team with detailed up-to-date drug information.
  1. Working with patients to make sure patients are engaged in managing their health by:
  • Discussing their preferences to make sure each patient’s health goals are being met.
  • Counselling patients on how to take their medications, how to know if medications are working for them, and how to manage side effects.
  • Sometimes following up with patients who’ve been discharged from hospital, especially if there’s a complex medication plan (for example, for blood thinners or antibiotics, to name a few).

A pin that says I heart pharmacy.What does that mean for our patients?

Studies show that clinical pharmacists help:

  1. Reduce the time patients spend in hospital
  2. Improve patient health and chronic disease management
  3. Improve patient safety
  4. Reduce healthcare costs

My hospital pharmacist told me they’re a resident – what does that mean?

  • A hospital pharmacy residency is a year-long program that some pharmacists choose to do after they’ve graduated from university.
  • A resident is not required to be a hospital pharmacist, but it helps to build on clinical skills in a practical learning environment.
  • Residents have many rotations on different wards and in different areas of practice throughout the year (e.g., surgery, emergency, pediatrics, intensive care, research).
  • The program focuses on direct patient care, pharmacy operations, project management and personal aspects of pharmacy.
  • The goal of the residency program is to better prepare pharmacists for challenging and innovative pharmacy practice in the hospital setting. After finishing the program, pharmacists become competent and independent clinical practitioners of pharmaceutical care in diverse patient populations.
  • Pharmacy residents develop clinical, interprofessional, and leadership skills under the guidance of experienced preceptors.
  • Northern Health’s pharmacy residency program is fully accredited, and graduates of the program receive their ACPR designation (Accredited Canadian Pharmacy Residency).

Happy Pharmacy Awareness Month!

Jessie McIntosh

About Jessie McIntosh

Jessie is a registered pharmacist, currently three quarters of the way through a pharmacy residency with Northern Health. She grew up in Vanderhoof, moving to Kelowna to complete her prerequisites at UBCO and then graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from UBC in Vancouver in 2018. Jessie is thrilled to be back in the North and will continue to work for Northern Health, hopefully in a rural setting, after completing her residency. In her free time Jessie likes skiing, hiking, cooking, ceramics, and being in the great outdoors with friends.

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On-site health clinic provides a range of services to students at UNBC

Kara Hunter posing at UNBC.University students are in a unique situation. For most, it’s the first time they’ve lived away from home. On top of that, they’re trying to navigate their studies, and most don’t have a local health care provider. Simple health concerns can become more serious while they try to figure out where to get help.

To help keep students healthy, the on-site Health Services Clinic at the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) main campus in Prince George has a strong team of health care professionals that can meet most student health care needs:

  • Counsellors
  • General practitioner physician
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Occupational therapist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Registered nurses
  • Registered psychiatric nurse

Among the services the clinic provides are physical and mental health assessments and treatment, immunizations, health care for sexual and reproductive issues, and chronic disease management.

One of the dedicated team members is Nurse Practitioner Kara Hunter, who has worked at Northern Health for over 20 years. Most of her career was spent as a registered nurse in critical care. After completing her master’s degree, she starting work as a nurse practitioner in 2015.

“In this clinic, we can make a huge impact with students and their overall wellness,” says Kara. “Typically each provider sees between 15 and 20 students a day. On extremely busy days we can see up to 25. Appointments are scheduled, and twice a week we offer drop-in times.”

Due to the recent opioid crisis, the team has devoted a lot of time to training students to use naloxone kits. Kits were distributed to students so they could administer the drug to anyone potentially overdosing.

“This past September and October, we trained over 100 students and residence advisors on how to administer naloxone,” says Kara. “We want to make sure that if someone does overdose, students know how to help.”

Another area Kara works in is sexual and reproductive health: “In 2019, we’re trialing group appointments, specifically targeting contraceptive counselling and the use of intrauterine (IUD) devices,” she says.

There’s no limit on the number of students that can attend each group appointment. Students who want more information after the group appointment can book a follow-up appointment at the clinic.

Thanks to the on-site clinic, UNBC students have one less thing to worry about when they arrive in Prince George. For more information, visit the Wellness Centre Health Services website.

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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Our People: Spotlight on Barb Haagenson

Barb Haagenson outside against a wintery background.Barb Haagenson is a social worker on the primary care interprofessional team in Tumbler Ridge. She joined the team in September 2018, moving from Powell River, BC.

Can you tell me about your role as a social worker?

Currently, I’m working as a social worker and focusing on people struggling with mental health and substance use issues. I work with adults, and I also do traditional social worker jobs, such as helping with applications for disability and assisting with finding housing for people. I’m working on expanding my knowledge and helping people that are receiving home and community care or palliative services.

When I was doing my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, we learned about the perspective of generalism, described at school as a basic grounding of integration of practice, policy, and research at each system level of practice. It’s about a broader view of work among and across systems. I’ve done a lot of work with people and this perspective just fits. Whatever comes up in a person’s life, that’s what we work on with them.

I bring a generalist lens to every patient that comes to see me. For example, if they’re coming to talk to me because they struggle with depression, I also look to see if there are housing or economic struggles. I feel fortunate because I’m biased towards having a generalist perspective. There is such a huge benefit of working this way for the patient – they come to me to discuss what’s important to them and I work with them where they’re at.

I did my graduate degree at the University of BC – Okanagan. It was more specialized with a clinical focus. I learned with nurses and other health care professionals and worked in an interprofessional way – it felt like a good fit.

What brought you to Tumbler Ridge?

I really enjoy living and working in remote and rural places. When I was exploring options for work, the North was one of my first choices. I feel really grateful to be working and living where I am. The interprofessional team approach fits with how I want to work and so the team in Tumbler Ridge, combined with the community, was a great fit for my life.

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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Fort St. John Hospital and other NH facilities win outstanding awards in lab services

The lab technologist team standing with the certificate awards.
Medical Lab Technologists Matthew Coburn, Laurel Coburn (related by marriage), and Carlee Bryson with Fort St. John Hospital’s three awards.

Congratulations to Fort St. John Hospital staff for recently receiving three outstanding achievement awards from the BC Provincial Blood Coordinating Office.

“The achievements are a testament to the donors of British Columbia, that our labs in Northern Health are great stewards, for their selfless act in helping others through their donation of blood products,” says Julius Valido, Quality Resource Technologist at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George.

The recognition is related to the hospital’s efficient usage of blood products, donor red cells, and IV immune globulin (IVIG).

“It is also a recognition that Northern Health is motivated to reduce the unnecessary cost to healthcare,” says Julius, “and to the public sector by diminishing inventory wastage and transportation of products to and from the suppliers and within lab sites.”

The three outstanding achievement awards are:

  • Award for Outstanding Achievement in 0% Red Cell Outdate Rate: The lab used all donor red cells before they expired. Red cells have an average shelf-life of 45 days.
  • Award for Outstanding 0% Expiry Rate of all Factor products: The lab used all blood products and derivatives, such as coagulation factors, before they expired.
  • Award for Outstanding 0% IVIG Discard and Outdate Rate: The lab used all IV immune globulin (IVIG) before its expiration date. IVIG is produced from healthy human blood to help fight infections for patients with a weakened immune system; and it’s very expensive, at $65 per gram. Some patients need 1000-2000 grams. The lab not only used the product before the expiration date, but it also handled it with care during shipping and receiving, and placed it in temperature controlled storage before being used for various approved conditions other than weakened immune systems.

Several other Northern Health facilities won awards and honourable mentions (see below). Keep an eye out for a full story in the upcoming Northern Way magazine. We’ll take an in-depth look at what these awards mean to Northern Health patients and how the lab teams achieved these amazing results.

Congratulations to everyone!

Honourable Mention for Achievement of a Red Cell Outdate Rate Below 1%

  • Prince Rupert Regional Hospital
  • University Hospital of Northern BC

Award for Outstanding 0% Expiry Rate of all Factor Products

  • Bulkley Valley District Hospital
  • Dawson Creek and District Hospital
  • Fort St. John Hospital
  • G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital
  • Mills Memorial Hospital
  • Prince Rupert Regional Hospital
  • University Hospital of Northern BC

Award for Outstanding 0% IVIG Discard and Outdate Rate

  • Bulkley Valley & District Hospital
  • Fort St. John Hospital
  • G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital
  • Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre
  • Mills Memorial Hospital
  • Prince Rupert Regional Hospital
  • St. John Hospital
  • Stuart Lake Hospital
  • Wrinch Memorial Hospital
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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Four-person show in Hudson’s Hope

The four staff members in Hudson's Hope looking at a document.
L-R: Cara Hudson, lab/x-ray technologist; Susan Soderstrom, primary care nurse; physician; Faye Fladmark, primary care assistant.

Think it can’t be done? Think again. One doctor, one nurse, one combination lab/X-ray technician and one assistant are managing 1,200 patients in the community of Hudson’s Hope.

They do it all. This team works together to manage any emergencies in the community before they are transferred to Chetwynd or Fort St. John, as well as provide regular family doctor visits and checkups to their patients. The team is small so they communicate well with one another.

Because the community is only about 1,200 people, the staff know their panel well and have good relationships with their patients.

On a typical day, Susan Soderstrom, the primary care nurse, could be out in the community assisting a patient and then come back to the clinic and need to help the doctor with a major emergency.

Cara Hudson, the lab/x-ray technologist, took combined training aimed towards working in rural communities so that she can provide both services. Normally, two different people would provide these services.

There is one solo doctor in the community, and he treats a wide variety of issues – everything from prescriptions to chainsaw injuries.

Faye Fladmark, the primary care assistant, deals with everything else that comes through the doors. Managing patient records, ordering supplies, etc.

Through collaboration, innovation, and great communication, this incredible team confidently handles anything that comes their way!

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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Northern Health staff and physicians volunteer at the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships

Laura Elsenheimer offering a tissue to Birgit Skarstein.
Laura Elsenheimer, Chief Technologist at the UHNBC Laboratory, offers a tissue to Birgit Skarstein, who had just finished the middle distance cross-country sit ski race. Skarstein, known as “the smile of Norway” won bronze. The athlete has been paralyzed from the waist down since 2009 as the result of a swimming accident in Malaysia.

World-class athletes are being showcased as Prince George hosts the 2019 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships (WPNSC) February 15 – 24 at the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club, and Northern Health (NH) staff and physicians are helping make it happen. 

Many NH staff and physicians are volunteering at the event, donating their time at the Medical and Anti-Doping site, Timing, the Volunteer Centre, Security, the Start/Finish areas, out on the course, and more. As well, Dr. Jacqui Pettersen, a neurologist with the Northern Medical Program, is the Lead for Medical Services.

The event, attended by athletes from 17 countries, is the second biggest for para Nordic sports after the Paralympics. Spectators are welcome – there’s no charge to watch these amazing world-class athletes in action.

Elisabeth Veeken, Volunteer Coordinator for the event, was invited to get involved by the local organizing committee. 

Cheryl Moors helping prep the finish area at the para nordic skiing championships.
Early morning volunteer: Cheryl Moors, RN, Interim CPL on Surgery North at UHNBC, helps prep the finish area on Day 1 of racing.

“I was honoured to be asked. If I’d known better, I would have run screaming the other way!” says Elisabeth, a casual in Recreation Therapy at Northern Health. “It’s a large and time-consuming job, but one that I know will bring me, and I hope others, great satisfaction, when all is said and done.”

Other volunteers concurred. Lory Denluck, an accountant in Northern Health’s Physician Compensation department, enjoyed the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help at such an exciting event being held in my community.”

Elisabeth Veeken standing with Collin Cameron.
Elisabeth Veeken, Volunteer Coordinator for the event, with Collin Cameron, gold medallist for Canada for the men’s sit ski sprints.

Dawn Taylor, a cook at Northern Health’s Rainbow Lodge, wanted to volunteer because she’s a lifelong cross-country skier. “Plus, I’ve also volunteered for Special Olympics and the Caledonia Club for many years,” she says.

And nursing student Melanie Martinson says it gave her “an amazing chance to watch world-class athletes competing in our own home town. It’s so rare to have such a high calibre of athletics in Prince George that it was an opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up!”

As for Elisabeth, she’s a big supporter of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. Volunteering at the WPNSC was a perfect way for her to give back to the club.

“I’m so excited to be part of this amazing event!” she says. 

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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