Healthy Living in the North

Happy retirement to Fort Nelson Head Nurse Betty Asher

Headshot of Betty Asher.For 38 years, Betty Asher has been a constant presence at the Fort Nelson Hospital as the nurse manager, caring for staff and patients. At the end of March, Betty closed this chapter of her life and retired from Northern Health.

Born in the Philippines, Betty and her family moved to Vancouver in 1966 when her father was appointed as a diplomat to Canada. Her parents, sister and two brothers all moved to Canada on 4 year diplomatic passports. Living in Canada was a shock to the system for Betty. Not only was the weather colder than she was used to, but adapting to the different culture proved challenging. Betty was not equipped for the cold Canadian winters only owning jackets designed for the warm Philippines climate.

Betty started her career as a registered nurse in 1967 by enrolling in the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) nursing program. This provided an opportunity for her to make friends and immerse herself in Canadian culture. After completing nursing school, Betty was able to apply for a work visa, and later obtain Canadian citizenship. From 1971 – 1979 she worked as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital on a surgical floor caring for patients and increasing her nursing knowledge and experience.

Betty welcomed her first child, daughter Leah, in 1976, followed by her son Jason in 1979. Betty’s parents, and two younger brothers moved to Ottawa so her father could progress his diplomatic career in the nation’s capital, while her sister went on to become a doctor.

Betty began her career Fort Nelson in 1980 when she moved there with her former husband so he could pursue business opportunities in the area. Fort Nelson quickly became home to Betty and her family. She became the consistent face at the hospital while they transitioned through a variety of administrators during her 38 years there. Betty was responsible for 27 staff at the hospital, a majority of which have been there for anywhere between 30 and 5 years.

Betty has had many accomplishments during her time in Fort Nelson that she is proud of including the development of the home support program, home care program and diabetes educator role. All of which are still going strong to this day and have contributed to delivering quality health care to the citizens of Fort Nelson. She was also instrumental in changing the pediatric unit to a multilevel unit, the chemotherapy program, and the integration of the interprofessional team.

Ensuring a sense of community at the hospital was always important to Betty. Whether it be the Christmas craft fair, raffles, spring events, or potluck dinners at the multilevel care facility. Workplace culture at the hospital was a priority for her as was ensuring the involvement of patients and their families in events and gatherings. Betty also spent time as the Chairman of the Hospice Society in Fort Nelson that has raised lots of money over the years, furthering her contributions to the community.

For 25 years, Betty was married to Dr. Ayalew (Al) Kassa until he passed away in 2013. A native of Africa, Dr. Kassa was only anticipating staying in Fort Nelson for 6 months, but ended up staying until his passing. They had a strong love of travelling, classical music, cooking, golfing, and the community of Fort Nelson.

Retirement is not going to slow Betty down, but instead may keep her even busier. She is scheduled for a knee replacement in Vancouver, and after she has recovered, she is planning on traveling to Africa to see family in Ethiopia, and visit the continent she has fallen in love with. She will continue living in Fort Nelson and will also spend time at her second home in Vernon and visiting her daughter Leah in Sicamous. Betty would like to take piano lessons to further advance her existing musical talents.

On behalf of everyone that has had the pleasure of working with Betty over the years, we wish her well in her retirement and are excited for her to embark on this new phase in her life.

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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The fountain of youth

Man in boat on lake.

Reg plans on spending his senior years on the lake and is making choices now to help make that happen. What will you choose?

Have you ever heard about the fabled fountain of youth? In the 1400s, the indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico and Cuba told early Spanish explorers about a fountain with miraculous powers that would restore the youth of whoever drank from it. Many explorers searched for the fountain of youth including Juan Ponce de Leon, who accompanied Christopher Columbus.

But enough about the fountain of youth for now and onto something more local!

It’s Seniors’ Week in B.C., which is a good time to remember that eventually, we all become seniors. I’m sure that most of us picture our senior years as a time to enjoy ourselves. I plan to spend lots of time fishing, cycling and reminding my children that I don’t have to get up and go to work every day!

All I need now is a fountain of youth from which to make my morning coffee. That would make my days on the lake and my epic bike rides much easier, wouldn’t it?

But the fountain of youth is a legend, isn’t it?

If you think about seniors, what comes to mind? For instance, you may be picturing a senior sitting in a rowboat on the lake, smiling as he fishes and enjoys the day. Alternatively, you may be picturing that same senior sitting in a wheelchair staring out the window at a lake. Why is there a difference?

Did one senior take a trip to Florida and meet a Spaniard named Juan Ponce de Leon? Or is it just the luck of the draw? I’d bet the senior in the rowboat realized that the real fountain of youth can be found in the choices we make and actions we take that affect our lives.

You might be thinking that we have no control over the future and that sometimes things happen despite our best efforts to lead healthy lives. You’re right, they do. However, there’s also truth in the idea that our choices and actions have a huge impact on the quality of our lives.

Why not choose to believe that we can create our own fountain of youth and act in ways that support our health?

  • Staying physically active can reduce the risk of chronic disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. It helps keep you independent and taking part in things you like to do. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of activity per week for adults.
  • Eating well supports your physical health, provides energy and keeps your immune system strong.
  • Staying connected to friends and family plays a huge role in supporting your mental health and happiness.
  • Challenging yourself intellectually keeps your mind sharp (perhaps sharp enough to outsmart the fish!).

The choices we make and actions we take today will affect how we get to live our tomorrow.

Personally, I’m looking forward to spending lots of time on the lake. What will you choose?

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a licensing officer with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out, and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.

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