Healthy Living in the North

No chimneys, no problem: be Santa for PG’s long-term care residents

The Christmas tree in the Prince George London Drugs store is decorated with tags containing seniors' gift wishes.

The tree at London Drugs in Prince George, where you can get a tag for Thanks to the London Drugs Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program, Santa doesn’t need chimneys to find residents at Northern Health’s (NH) long-term care facilities in Prince George!

The program lets seniors from Gateway Complex Care, Rainbow Lodge, Jubilee Lodge, and Parkside Care provide a wish list, which goes on tags that are put on a Christmas tree at London Drugs. Community members can visit the store, grab a tag, buy the items on the wish list, and return them to London Drugs before December 14 for delivery on Christmas morning.

“Needs are addressed in long-term care,” says Louise Parkes, Recreational Therapist at Jubilee Lodge and Parkside Care. “It’s the ‘wants’ that get missed. This creates a more personal connection. For instance, we have a resident who loves writing notes to staff or whoever she wants to acknowledge. In past years, she would use plain paper; now, she’ll receive special stationary or blank cards.”

London Drugs in Prince George reached out to Northern Health to start the program at Gateway Complex Care a couple years ago, and it has continued to grow since – this is the first year that four facilities will take part. As it’s expanded, so to has the impact on residents and staff, especially on Christmas morning when the stockings are delivered.

“Everybody talks about it, everyone wants to participate,” says Lynn AuCoin, Recreational Therapist at Gateway Complex Care and Rainbow Lodge. “It’s also a great time to remember Christmases gone by. Staff are so excited; they love hearing the stories of their residents.”

London Drugs does a lot of sorting and organizing on their end, then NH staff set up their own version of Santa’s workshop, where they review the list (checking it twice), ensure there’s a gift for everyone, and organize the gifts for Santa’s elves to deliver on Christmas morning.

Louise says that on Christmas morning, each resident gets the chance to feel like a kid again: the centre of attention, opening their gift in front of their long-term-care family.

“We take time with each individual as they open their stocking and we present it to them, looking at each gift with them. It’s undivided attention. They feel special in that moment. It shows that people in the community really do care.”

You can pick up a Stocking Stuffer tag from London Drugs in Prince George today! Remember, they must be returned to the store by December 14, 2019.

Thanks for making Christmas morning special for our seniors in long-term care!

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.


Our People: Sunayana Mann, Medical Office Assistant, PG UPCC

A smiling woman sits at a desk behind two computer screens.

Sunayana Mann, Medical Office Assistant.

Sunayana Mann, Medical Office Assistant, might be the smiling face who greets you at the Prince George Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) in Parkwood Mall.

The PG UPCC provides after-hours care to:

  • People with an illness or injury that needs to be looked at within 12 to 24 hours, but isn’t an emergency.
  • People that have a hard time getting an appointment at their family doctor’s or nurse practitioner’s office in a timely manner.
  • People who don’t have a regular family doctor or nurse practitioner.
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!


Helping Patients Achieve Surgical Success

A side angle shot of a woman in a green sweater sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen that says "Surgical Patient Optimization Collaborative."

Nicole Dron, Surgical Optimization Nurse.

Some health care professionals compare having a surgery with running a marathon; would you run a marathon without any training?

Running a marathon can be stressful – even traumatic – for your body, and so can major surgery. But by preparing your body for those events, you can help make sure they’re successful.

Some patients already know that preparing for surgery helps ensure success:

  • “They said I would be staying in the hospital about four days and returning to work six weeks later after the surgery. I stayed in the hospital three weeks and returned to work six months later because I developed complications. Much of my everyday life was put on hold. If I had known that getting healthier before the surgery could have helped me to avoid this, I would have done something about it.” (patient report)
  • “They were worried about a couple of things in my health condition right before surgery, so they had to cancel at the last possible minute. I wish there was a way to catch those worrisome things much sooner, so that I didn’t have to wait months again for a much-needed surgery.” (patient report)

Doctors and other health care professionals have long recognized that a patient who’s fit for surgery is more likely to have a good surgical result. This means minimal, if any, complications in the short or long term, a short hospital stay, no readmissions to hospital, and a smooth transition back to everyday life.

Four sites in Northern Health and 13 other hospitals in BC are taking part in an exciting pre-surgical optimization project to help patients become as healthy as possible before major surgery.

The project is the Surgical Patient Optimization Collaborative (SPOC), and it’s a priority of the BC Ministry of Health. The organization Doctors of BC, in partnership with BC health authorities, is leading this project.

The four Northern Health sites are Dawson Creek and District Hospital, the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) in Prince George, Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, and Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace.

Working from evidence-based studies, project leaders have established 13 areas of focus:

  • Diabetes management
  • Heart health
  • Nutrition
  • Mental health
  • Anemia management
  • Exercise
  • Preventing blood clots
  • Frailty
  • Pain management
  • Stopping smoking
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Social supports
  • Sleep disorders

Each site will focus on two to five components. For example, UHNBC will start preparing patients who are scheduled for urologic and gynecologic surgeries by focusing on diabetes management, frailty, social supports, and smoking cessation.

Other sites have chosen other areas of focus. What all sites have in common, however, is the goal of helping patients succeed in their surgical journey.

Pre-surgical optimization nurses will be reaching out to doctors and primary health care teams that have patients booked for major surgery at any of the four NH sites. These nurses will work with doctors and interprofessional teams to ensure patients are prepared for their surgery.

Nicole Dron

About Nicole Dron

Nicole is a registered nurse with the pre-surgical optimization collaborative in Prince George. She is specifically passionate about aspects that focus on health promotion and prevention, and system improvement in rural, acute, and community nursing. Nicole is hoping to use her professional interests towards supporting the Prince George community to become more healthy and active. Nicole raises her three kids with her spouse, and enjoys exploring local and surrounding communities, reading, and various sports.


After hours non-emergency care at the PG Urgent and Primary Care Centre

A man with a cane sits on a chair in the waiting room.

David Scott, 83, patient at the Prince George Urgent and Primary Care Centre.

“I think our health service is just incredible,” said David Scott, 83, who got some advice on dizzy spells at the Prince George Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) on a recent Saturday afternoon. “Many of us don’t realize how fortunate we are.”

The UPCC is the place to go for after-hours non-emergency care. 

Visit the PG UPCC if you or a family member are experiencing:

  • Sprains caused by minor accidents and falls
  • Minor bleeding/cuts requiring stitches
  • Mild breathing difficulties
  • Minor burns
  • Respiratory infections
  • Ear aches
  • Eye irritation/injuries
  • Severe sore throat or cough
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • Mild back pain
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • New or worsening pain
  • Asthma

You should always try to contact your family doctor or nurse practitioner first to see if you can get an appointment.

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!


UHNBC doing 33% more MRIs

An MRI machine in a dark room.

UHNBC acquired this MRI machine in 2017.

The University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George has done 1,360 more magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) so far this fiscal year, a 33.2% increase over last year.

MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields to make images of the brain, heart, liver, arteries, and more, helping doctors diagnose and treat disease.

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!


Extended lab hours at UHNBC

Two women behind the glass partition in a reception area under a sign that says Lab Outpatients.

Medical lab assistants at UHNBC Tracy Ingham (L) and Trisha Scichilone (R).

Lab services at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George are now open in the evenings and on most statutory holidays!

The new extended hours are:

Monday to Friday – 7:30 am to 8 pm
Saturday/ Sunday – 10 am to 5:30 pm
Statutory holidays – 12 pm to 5 pm
(Closed Christmas Day, Labour Day and Good Friday)

You no longer need to take time off work or experience extended wait times during the day to get your lab work done. As part of the funding for the Prince George Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) and the Prince George Primary Care Network, provided by the Ministry of Health, the hours for UHNBC lab services have increased to better serve the needs of patients.

You can go to the UHNBC lab to get bloodwork or electrocardiograms (ECGs) done, and they’ll also begin processing any samples or swabs that you drop off. For patients, the benefits of the extended hours at the lab are improved access to lab services and shorter wait times in the evening and statutory holidays.

To access the UHNBC lab, enter the main doors at UHNBC and walk to the end of the main hall to the ‘Lab Outpatient’ sign. Lab services check-in is located across from switchboard.

Right now, the wait time is the shortest in the evenings after 6 pm.

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.


Selfies with the CEO: Northern Health gets creative for Halloween

CEO Cathy Ulrich sits on the throne from Game of Thrones surrounded by three people dressed as characters from the TV show.

Game of Thrones! CEO Cathy Ulrich with Nicole Lupul, HR Admin Assistant, dressed as Sansa Stark; Curtis Stewart, HR Admin Assistant, dressed as Bran Stark; and Sanja Knezevic, Communications Advisor, HR, dressed as Melisandre.

Halloween at Northern Health this year was creative, interactive, and a lot of fun!

Our staff had a great time getting innovative and working their Halloween magic on their costumes and work spaces. I was able to take a look at all the decorating done in our corporate offices this year – the team building and lively atmosphere was great to experience!

Looking forward to seeing what everyone will come up with next year!

CEO Cathy Ulrich in a selfie with four staff members dressed as characters from Mario Kart.

Mario Kart! CEO Cathy Ulrich with Ben Laverdure, HR Analyst, dressed as Waluigi; Dylan Calado, Application Analyst, dressed as an item box; Ruby Baptiste, Workplace Health & Safety Analyst, dressed as Mario; and Andrew Toms, HR Analyst, dressed as Luigi.

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.


Eats, meets, and greets at Prince George physician social

Adults and children sit and eat at picnic benches.

Physicians and their families at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

Karaoke, free childcare, kids activities, and a BBQ set the stage for new Prince George physicians to have a fun and casual afternoon at the park among friends and colleagues.

On August 10, 2019, the Prince George Division of Family Practice and Northern Health partnered to host another successful physician social at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park in Prince George, B.C. This event welcomed new physicians to Prince George, and brought them together with existing physicians, residents, students, their families, and Northern Health staff.

These socials are great opportunities to socialize with colleagues and their families outside of the workplace, and for physicians to gain a better understanding of the work that other physicians in the community are doing. The casual, family-friendly atmosphere creates an ideal space for physicians to break down barriers and strengthen relationships between students, residents, physicians, and Northern Health.

This is the third physician social event since they started in 2018. The first was a family-friendly event hosted at the Exploration Place, and the second was an evening out at CrossRoads Brewery, complete with free childcare, fantastic food, and great company.

Northern Health looks forward to continuing to work together with the Prince George Division of Family Practice to integrate new physicians into the fold of their community and fostering a deeper sense of togetherness in Prince George for every physician and their families.

Karoline Doyle

About Karoline Doyle

Karoline Doyle is the Northern Interior Medical Staff Recruiter for Northern Health. Raised in the lower mainland, Karoline has been back and forth to Prince George throughout her high school and university years. She’s called Prince George home again for the past five years. In her spare time, Karoline enjoys being active outdoors on the trails, mountains, and water, and spending quality time with her friends and family.


Creating Visual Narratives of Care and Cultural Safety with Lisa Boivin

Lisa Boivin and her art is pictured.

Lisa Boivin shown with some of her colourful and vibrant art.

Lisa Boivin, a member of Deninu Kue First Nation in the Northwest Territories, completed her Doctoral Studies at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute within the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Her upcoming workshop called Creating Visual Narratives of Care and Cultural Safety is coming to Prince George.

Lisa started drawing four years ago to help her get through her classes. During an interview with CBC’s Unreserved, Lisa remarked that her introduction to art isn’t as romantic as one would assume.

“There really is no long, romantic history of longing to learn how to paint – it was literally just hating what I was studying.”

After one of her professors expressed concern that her doodling was disruptive to the class, Lisa began to use digital painting apps on her computer – creating her signature style of using bright, vibrant colours on a black backdrop.

As a Sixties Scoop survivor, art soon became an even greater refuge for Lisa. The Sixties Scoop is a part of Canadian history when Indigenous children were taken from their families and adopted out to white families – some as far away as Europe.

As Lisa learned about colonialism, cultural displacement, and intergenerational trauma in the classroom, she was also reconnecting with her father and processing her own personal history. When it came time to submit an assignment, Lisa found that words were not sufficient to express what she had to say. Instead, Lisa asked if she could hand in an arts-based project. Feedback was positive from her professor. So, she continued using painting as a teaching tool.

Today, Lisa works as an arts-based health care educator. Using image-based storytelling (an Indigenous teaching style), Lisa educates current and future health care professionals on the obstacles that Indigenous patients face as they navigate the Canadian health care system.

Lisa’s presentation can be broken down into three sections:

  • The first section provides a personal account of Canada’s colonial history as it relates to the health outcomes of Lisa and her family.
  • The second and third sections include reflexive, arts-based exercises that use image-based story telling to explore nation building in the workplace and to create a visual narrative of the clinical and personal self.

The afternoon of learning will begin with a tour of the Two Rivers Gallery REDRESS exhibit, followed by a lunch for participants and Lisa’s three-section workshop.

Organized by the Health Arts Research Centre, with help from the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health and Northern Health (NH), this free afternoon workshop takes place on Friday, October 4, 2019 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Two Rivers Gallery. NH staff and physicians are welcome to register, but space is limited! Before registering, NH staff should discuss attending with their manager if this event takes place during regular work hours, or if coverage or travel would be required.

Shelby Petersen

About Shelby Petersen

Shelby is the Web Services Coordinator with Indigenous Health. Shelby has over five years of experience working in content development and digital marketing. After graduating with a degree in Political Science from UNBC, Shelby moved to Vancouver where she pursued a career in digital marketing. Most recently, Shelby was the Senior Content Developer and Project Manager with a digital advertising agency in Vancouver, British Columbia. Born and raised in Prince George, Shelby is thrilled to be back in the community and spending time outside enjoying everything that the North has to offer.


Telehealth: bridging the gap between physicians and patients

Dr. Abdulla smile in front of medical equipment.

Dr. Abdulla, one call away from a patient appointment. (photo credit: Prince George Citizen)

Telehealth is seeing growing usage in Northern Health, and patients and physicians are seeing the benefits.

“I had a lady sitting on her patio drinking coffee in Quesnel, and I did a followup with her [from Prince George],” said Dr. Abdulla. “That’s the ideal situation. She doesn’t have to drive an hour and 20 minutes each way for a seven-minute appointment.”

Dr. Abdulla is a urologist based out of UHNBC in Prince George who deals with patients from across the North. He knows the difficulty travel can pose for his patients and telehealth has helped them skip the trip, and still receive the quality of care they need.

Physicians can find out more about offering telehealth to your patients or clients at

Mark Hendricks

About Mark Hendricks

Mark is the Communications Advisor, Medical Affairs at Northern Health. He was raised in Prince George, and has earned degrees from UNBC (International Business) and Thompson Rivers University (Journalism). As a fan of Fall and Winter, the North suits him and he’s happy to be home in Prince George. When he's not working, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, playing games of all sorts, hiking, and a good cup (or five) of coffee.