Healthy Living in the North

Happy 100th birthday to the Auxiliary to UHNBC!

Lindy Steele and Colleen Nyce with the commemorative plaque.
Lindy Steele, Auxiliary President, receiving the commemorative bronze plaque from Colleen Nyce, Northern Health Board Chair.

Have you ever had the pleasure of celebrating a 100th birthday? I’m lucky enough to say I have – not once, not twice, but three times in my life!

The first centennial I attended was about four years ago, for a lovely lady who I’m sad to say has now passed. The second was a year and a half ago, celebrating a very dear friend, who I’m still lucky enough to visit with on a regular basis. The third was particularly special… and just this past week!

This birthday party was for the Auxiliary to the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia! This organization is run by volunteers, and spends countless hours (over a million during this 100 years) raising money to help the residents of Prince George and surrounding area get the health care they need!

Two Auxiliary members unwrapping the mural.
Two Auxiliary members proudly unwrap the mural that now greets anyone entering UHNBC.

Here’s to 100 more!

The special occasion was celebrated by a number of the auxiliary volunteers, members of the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation, local dignitaries, and residents of Prince George. A beautiful mural now hangs over the auxiliary desk in the main lobby, unveiled during the celebration alongside a bronze plaque commemorating their 100 years of tireless work! The tokens of appreciation were presented to Lindy Steele, Auxiliary President, by Colleen Nyce, Northern Health Board Chair.

In their century of service to the people of Prince George and neighbouring communities, the Auxiliary to UHNBC has donated over $5.5 million and, as previously mentioned, over one million volunteer hours, to help improve health care at UHNBC. Their goal is to provide service to the hospital community by raising funds through the Auxiliary Gift Shop, The Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop, fundraising, and donations. They rely on the support of the community to assist them, and it’s obvious to me this partnership is working!

Humble beginnings

It all started in 1919, in the form of providing linens, drapes, and other incidentals to the hospital. From there, the Auxiliary continued to grow and take on different fundraising opportunities to raise money for necessary items, from linens, to operating equipment, and anything else you can imagine!

UHNBC Auxiliary 100 birthday cake.
Fact: you can’t have a 100th birthday without a cake!

Say hello!

If you’ve ever walked through the doors at UHNBC as patient, a visitor, or as an employee, you’ll have seen Auxiliary volunteers in their pink smocks, or burgundy vests, doing what they do best: helping others.

They’ll direct you to the room of a loved one or the friend you’re visiting, check you in for appointments at clinics, or help you through the gift shop in the hospital atrium, a hidden gem in my opinion!

I believe volunteers are a huge part of what makes this, and any, community thrive. Whether times were good or extremely hard, these volunteers continue to be the smiles that greet you and the helping hands that guide you where you need to go.

Thank you Auxiliary!

The Auxiliary to UHNBC is hosting the British Columbia Association of Health Care Auxiliaries (BCAHA) annual conference and AGM in Prince George in April of this year at the Prince George Civic and Conference Center. I don’t doubt they will all celebrate this milestone, as we all should, with the UHNBC Auxiliary members. If you see one of these wonderful people, please thank them for their service.

Lorrelle Hall

About Lorrelle Hall

Born and raised in Prince George BC, Lorrelle loves her hometown and is proud to be a PG girl, through and through! She and husband Lyn have raised twin daughters, and love being active in the community. Lorrelle works as an Executive Assistant to the Northern Health Communications team, and works closely with the Hospital Auxiliaries and Foundations. When not at work, she loves to spend time with her kids, mother, many siblings, and friends! She loves to volunteer, and travel wherever the sun is shining!

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Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital of Northern BC goes paperless

Two staff standing with a tall stack of chart copies.
Melanie Baker (left) and Teresa Ward with 5 weeks’ worth of chart copies.

Each month, the busy Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital in Prince George prints out thousands of pages of test results and patient charts – 5,500 pages or more.

A new project called Turning off Paper, or TOP, aims to help.

By having staff view the information on computer screens instead, the project will save the time and money spent handling, scanning, filing, and shredding paper. It will also help keep patient info more accurate, because it removes the chance of duplicate paper records.

Northern Health is working closely with physicians and staff to make this a seamless change.

“Most of the staff and physicians have been using the electronic lab reports for some time,” says Darcy Hamel, Manager of the ICU. “To see the drastic decrease of wasted paper and not affect how staff do their job has been fantastic.”

Another positive outcome from this change has been less chance of a medical error.

As Darcy says, “With the computer, you’re always looking at the most recent results. There’s one source of truth and you always see the most updated version.”

This change has also let nurses spend more time with their patients. “The nurses don’t need to leave a bedside,” says Darcy, “because computers are more readily available for them to see results.”

In case of power outages, there’s a “downtime” computer with all the latest data — each unit has one available.

Jesse Priseman, Projects and Planning Manager, says, “The goal is that ICU will be the first department at UHNBC to be completely electronic. It’s been a positive change, and we look forward to making other departments more environmentally friendly in 2019.”

Sanja Knezevic

About Sanja Knezevic

Sanja is a communications advisor with Northern Health’s medical affairs department and is based in Prince George. She moved to Canada in 1995 from former Yugoslavia to Fort Nelson where she lived for a few years before moving to Prince George in 2000. Sanja enjoys photography, curling up with a good book, cooking and spending time with her friends and family.

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Facility engagement removes silos, improves teamwork in the North

Article submitted by Doctors of BC.

A group of stakeholders at the Change Day event at UHNBC.
Change Day at UHNBC – a group of stakeholders.

Facility Engagement is a provincial initiative of the Specialist Services Committee that aims to strengthen relationships and engagement between health authorities and facility-based physicians, to improve the shared work environment and the delivery of patient care.

Dr. John Smith, Past President of Medical Staff at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) and an internal medicine specialist, has been a significant contributor to the work of Facility Engagement since its inception, both as a local physician leader and as a member of the provincial Specialist Services Committee (SSC) Facility Engagement Provincial Working Group.  

Dr. Smith says that the initiative is already fixing some challenges at UNHBC. He noted that administrators are responsible for making budgetary and policy decisions, while doctors are responsible for delivering the expenditure through patient care. “Yet none of the groups were talking to each other,” he says, “which quite obviously was not leading to useful results.”

He says that as a solution, facility engagement has created opportunities and incentives for increased teamwork between the doctors and administrators, who no longer work in isolation. Benefits are already showing in the areas of patient care, physician communication, and relationships with staff and administration.

One example involves solving the difficulties of getting adequate physician coverage for hospitalized patients, because GPs need to return to their individual family practices after morning hospital rounds and may be unable to return later in the day if needed. This is a common challenge at hospitals where GPs see inpatients.

“If the physician is only at the hospital between 8 am and 10 am,” says Dr. Smith, “it’s very hard for teamwork, planning and multidisciplinary rounds to occur. As a solution, we consulted with physicians and Northern Health to establish a general internal medicine unit. It’s a completely new structure developed to foster internal medical care, co-led by a doctor and an administrator.”

Under this unit, internists were recruited to look after the needs of hospitalized patients, and take pressures off of other GPs. The internist is able to make multiple rounds of patient visits, and address urgent concerns when needed in the middle of the day. With clear benefits for patient care, Northern Health was more than happy to collaborate on the project, and fund and sustain the new unit. “It’s simply a better system. The patients who are sick are looked after in a better way,” says Dr. Smith.

Another area of change he emphasized as a result of facility engagement has been improvements in physician communication. For example, internists and family doctors felt that each did not understand the other group’s pressures and needs. “With the help of Facility Engagement, they came together, expressed their concerns and agreed on a set of rules. They have found they have greatly improved communication and collaboration.”

A third area of improved collaboration is within the general hospital community, including staff and administration. Last fall, the entire hospital community convened a “Change Day” in which physicians came together with staff and pledged to change something in the hospital for the better.

“For the first time, something like this happened in Prince George and it was very successful,” says Dr. Smith. A total of 296 pledges were collected, placing Prince George fifth in the province. The main outcome of the event was broad collaboration.

Now that internal collaboration is becoming more firmly established in UNHBC, plans are under way to broaden collaborative efforts through a planning session for all hospitals in the region. “At the moment, Prince George has a lot of effect on Fort St. John, for example,” says Dr. Smith, “but the latter has no real say in Prince George.”

Dr. Smith says that facility engagement is a “very sensible initiative. It has increased the number of physicians who are active in hospital improvements and activities. If you told me three years ago that we’d have 40 per cent of physicians involved, I’d say ’no way’, but it is happening.”

And even though he’s retiring soon, Dr. Smith says that with the exciting opportunities that this initiative has created, “I would love to be starting again!”

Sanja Knezevic

About Sanja Knezevic

Sanja is a communications advisor with Northern Health’s medical affairs department and is based in Prince George. She moved to Canada in 1995 from former Yugoslavia to Fort Nelson where she lived for a few years before moving to Prince George in 2000. Sanja enjoys photography, curling up with a good book, cooking and spending time with her friends and family.

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UHNBC Trauma Team delivering great results

The Trauma team at the University Hospital of Northern BC.

Photo caption: Trauma Team at the University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George. L – R: Brittany Coulthard, Family Practice Resident; Dr. Matthew Wahab, Emergency Medicine Physician; Andrea Davidson, Psychiatric Nurse; Deandra Cormier, Emergency Room RN; Chad Ridsdale, Emergency Room RN; Ann Marie Henderson – Social Worker; Dr. Dick Raymond.

How long do people with major injuries stay in hospital? If the hospital is UHNBC in Prince George, the average is 8.5 days (as compared to the BC average of 12). The UHNBC Trauma Team aims to get people back home as soon as possible, and they’re succeeding — readmission rates for major injuries are also very low. Thank you, Trauma Team, for helping Northerners recover quickly!

 

The Trauma team at the University Hospital of Northern BC.

The Trauma team at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George BC.

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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In Photos: Medical students meet “Simbaby”

Three medical students taking a simulated learning session with a baby simulator.Medical residents are shown taking a simulated learning session on how to help a baby breathe and make its heart beat. Respiratory Therapist Nicole Hamel led the training with them at the University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George. The three are (L-R): Dr. Manpreet Sidhu, Dr. Jess Valleau, and Dr. Christine Kennedy. They’re using a realistic mannequin called a simulator to represent a newborn baby.

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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Hemodialysis Collaboration During the 2017 Wildfires

A group of hemodialysis staff.On July 8, 2017 the hemodialysis unit at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) in Prince George received a call from the charge nurse at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake. The town had been placed on evacuation alert due to the wildfires, and they may need to transfer 18 patients to Prince George. That call started a sequence of events which brought together two hemodialysis units from different health authorities and showcased the collaboration and dedication of health care practitioners.

Later on July 8, Iqwinder Mangat, the head nurse for hemodialysis, spoke with a director at Interior Health where she learned that transferring the patients to Prince George was plan B, and Kamloops was their plan A. A teleconference at 6:30pm on July 9 confirmed that they were proceeding with plan B and 18 hemodialysis patients were being evacuated to Prince George. An evacuate order for Williams Lake was imminent and they needed to evacuate patients as soon as possible.

By the time Mangat got off the teleconference call, the hemodialysis unit at UHNBC was already closed. She came in to the unit to look at the patient schedule for the next day to free up spots for the Williams Lake patients. A renal tech also came in to assist with moving dialysis supplies to prepare for the additional patients. The next morning, Mangat received calls from the Williams Lake patients to schedule their dialysis treatments, and they were slotted into available spots. Their quick thinking and planning made it so all scheduled patient treatments could carry on as normal.

The hemodialysis unit at UHNBC welcomed staff deployed from the Cariboo Memorial Hospital hemodialysis unit to work with them on the unit. Due to the difference in dialysis machines used in the two hospitals, they first had to undergo training on the machines. Once the Williams Lake nurses were comfortable using the machines, one UHNBC nurse was paired with them to help troubleshoot and support the Williams Lake staff.

By moving UHNBC patients into the main room and moving overflow patients to the Parkwood Independent Dialysis Unit, they set up a small dialysis unit within the hemodialysis unit operating five chairs from 7:00am – 7:00pm to support the Williams Lake patients. Accompanied by one UHNBC nurse, the nurses from Williams Lake staffed the unit, allowing them to work with patients they were familiar with. It was a welcome sight for both staff and patients and brought back a sense of normalcy in such a stressful time.

The entire team worked together collaboratively and offered support and assistance where they could. Managers took on administrative duties, emergency operation centre meetings, and HR tasks usually designated to clinical practice leads or head nurses. Nursing unit clerks were shared between the kidney clinic and hemodialysis unit, and staff were more than willing to work extra shifts when needed to ensure patients were receiving treatments.

Numerous staff and physicians brought in food, cards, flowers, and treats to thank everyone for their contributions and make the Williams Lake nurses feel welcome and part of the team. Staff’s extra support and dedication helped to make the hemodialysis unit function effectively despite the additional patients and pressures. They were willing to cancel vacation, work overtime, assist other facilitates, and work together in any way they could.

One telephone call changed the entire course of the 2017 summer for the hemodialysis staff, managers, and physicians. They welcomed 18 additional patients, and new staff all within a matter of days with no disruption to services. It demonstrated the strength of their resolve and showcased their collaborative nature, and was an experience that left a lasting impression on everyone involved.

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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Patient translators making a difference at UHNBC

Headshot of Julius Okpodi.

Julius Okpodi is a Social Worker at the University Hospital of Northern BC, and a volunteer translator in 5 Nigerian languages, plus Spanish.

Patient translators at the University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George are a busy group.

“When you need a translator, you need them in the heat of the moment,” says Linda Locheed, a social worker who initiated the program. “People come from all over the world to Northern BC and they’re heli-skiing or biking and they have an accident. Sometimes we have to contact their families in other countries.”

The program connects patients who don’t speak English with Northern Health staff members who act as volunteer translators.

A total of 36 languages are represented from all parts of the globe. Examples include Portuguese, Urdu, Mandarin, Kiswahili, Farsi, Dutch, American Sign Language, and German.

Social Worker Julius Okpodi hails from Nigeria and has been a volunteer translator ever since joining Northern Health four years ago. He speaks the Nigerian languages Etsako, Afemai, Edo, Bini, and Pidgin English. (The latter is understood by all Nigerians, regardless of their first language.)

“Through translation, we’ve been able to bridge communication barriers, especially when expressing feelings and explaining treatment options,” Okpodi says. ‘We can let patients or family who are immigrants or visitors know what’s required and what the expectations are, such as the effectiveness or after-affects when a treatment is made.”

Okpodi has been called to translate in the short-stay medical unit, internal medicine, the psychiatric ward, and rehab. “I enjoy making a difference in the life of others,” he says.

Locheed notes translation can be even more important during emergencies. “When we had the fires and everybody was evacuated and came to Prince George, the translators were invaluable. Elderly people came without their families, people came from all walks of life,” she says.

If you’re an NH staff member and you’re interested in becoming a translator, please contact Linda Locheed with your name, the languages you speak other than English, and your phone number (not your email). For confidentiality and safety reasons, you must be an NH employee.

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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Wellness Teams at Work

20130920wellnessteam

Participants in the Wellness Team’s curling “funspiel.”

Social connections matter to our health and wellness. In lots of work sites, social wellness committees develop to support those “fun” things we do while at work. These recreational activities break up the monotony of the everyday at work.

In this, Northern Health is similar to other organizations. These groups typically rest on the corners of desks and are the initiatives of a dedicated person or small group of people. In Prince George, Northern Health is fortunate to have Kimberly Chysyk. Kimberly’s primary role is the Administration Assistant for UHNBC. She also serves as administration support for the Director of Patient Care and the Director for Diagnostic Services. In her “spare” time at work, she is the Chair of the Northern Health Wellness team in Prince George.

I connected with Kimberly to learn more about the Prince George Northern Health Wellness Team and their work.

What does the Wellness Team do? What types of events do you offer?

The Wellness Team offers fun events for staff employed by Northern Health. Some of these include nature walks where families and their four-legged friends can come out and enjoy an afternoon, learn about plant life, etc.

We offer discounted yoga and zumba lessons and we offer some of the materials so people can participate, like mats, blocks and straps. In the past, we have also offered swing dance lessons. This was a huge success; however, finding long-term space for this event is a challenge and one that we are continuing to seek.

Our most popular event is the Annual Best Ball Golf Tournament. As this event grows, so do the prizes. We also brought back curling and had a “funspiel.” This was a lot of fun and was very well received. We will definitely be doing more of these in the years to come.

We also try to offer smaller, fun things for staff to partake in, such as yearly crib tournaments, Easter basket raffles, pumpkin carving contests and Christmas basket raffles and decorating contests. This year we also raffle baskets for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and that will now occur yearly.

We also support two community events each year: a team in the annual Cancer Relay and a team in the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike. You do not need to be on the Wellness Team to participate with us. You and your family/friends can join our team, Cure Determination North, or enter a team of your own. If you’ve never rode the big bike before, you have to sign up with us and come out and try it!

You are a very active group! How do you find the resources to host all of these events?

We do a lot of fundraising. In the past, we’ve done 50/50 draws and raffles. The basket raffles are a huge success! The golf tournament requires a lot of money to host (e.g., prizes). We are also always looking for new team members and new ideas. Becoming a team member does not mean that you have to participate in “every” event, but help out with events that interest you and/or take on an event that might bring staff interest that you have knowledge of or about.

What do you think the Wellness Team provides to staff?

I hope it encourages staff to get involved in healthy activities after and during work that they may not be able to access otherwise. For example, we work around work hours so that people don’t have to go home and then come back to do the activities. We bring awareness to locally operated businesses. We also hope that we help to keep staff in good humour. Our events allow staff to do something outside of the norm and they get to work together.

Chelan Zirul

About Chelan Zirul

Chelan Zirul is the Regional Manager for Health Promotions and Community Engagement for Northern Health. As a graduate from UNBC, she did her Master's of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. She explored regional development decision-making and is an advocate for policy that is appropriate for the needs of northerners. This, combined with her personal interest in health and wellness, drew her to work in health communications. Born in northern B.C., she takes advantage of the access to outdoor living. She enjoys hunting and exploring the backcountry with her dog and husband and enjoys finding ways to use local foods.

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The making of a flash mob

Flash mob 1You know we want people to live healthier – what better way to get the idea that every move counts in your head than to show you?!

Last month, a group of us at Northern Health decided to create the September Healthy Living Challenge to get northern B.C. residents thinking about ways to live a healthier lifestyle. We wanted to show you examples and offer practical advice around eating healthier, getting more activity and bringing the balance of health into your day-to-day life – all following the guidelines set out in NH’s position work.

In order to wrap up this month with a bang, we started organizing Northern Health’s first ever flash mob, with the very enthusiastic and talented choreographer Lisa Cassidy from Be Unique Fitness. I’ll admit that at first, I wasn’t entirely sure how this idea might be received by NH staff and administration, but I’m very proud to report that everyone embraced the idea with excitement!

Flash Mob 2With every rehearsal, more and more participants showed up, eager to be a part of this event and dedicated to learning the steps. Lisa was a fantastic help – she created videos to help us practice at home and attended several rehearsals to walk us through the steps personally. By the big day, we had over 30 people ready to move and groove in the University of Northern BC atrium!

The crowd was bigger than we expected, but nerves did not get the better of us. The music started, and as we counted our beats, I heard someone from above suddenly yell, “Flash mob!!” and with that, we were off. Everyone did a fantastic job with their parts – the dancing mob and the staff that held up signs with some of our healthy living messages, tips like “Sit less, move more” and “Cook a meal together!”

Thank you so much to everyone who practiced, practiced, practiced – and to those that came out to watch and cheer us on! A huge thanks also to Lisa for her hours of time; to Nicole and Ben Gibson from Yellow Ribbon Photography for taking these fantastic photos (more of which can be seen on our Facebook page); and to Paul Alberts from Ardor Media for taking the video.

Remember, health can be fun – even if you’re dancing around to your own beat! Just get moving!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of digital communications and public 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 manages NH's content channels, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, 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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Making a difference, one paw print at a time

Sandra Wyatt with dogs

Sandra Wyatt with Jazz (left) and Bella (right).

In the paediatrics unit at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC), we like to do what we can to bring smiles to the faces of our patients and their families – and what better to bring smiles than the wagging tail of a cute happy dog?

Meet Bella. A friend of mine adopted Bella from a Chihuahua rescue centre after a not so great start to her life. With much love, affection, good food, daily walks and training, in a positive manner, by a loving family, my friend and I began teaching her the many new skills necessary in the hope she would qualify for therapy work with sick children.

Bella and Jazz

Bella, 5 years old, and Jazz, 6 months old, honourary UHNBC staff members.

Finally, after much work, she graduated to twice weekly visits to the paediatric floor at UHNBC where she became, with staff approval, an honorary staff member! We have a photograph of her, proudly wearing her paediatric sweatshirt, on the wall for all to view.

Her main role is to calm and distract worried patients when they are having blood work done, examinations, or shots. Bella’s calm presence lifts the spirits of both staff and patients, and while she snuggles up to a patient who cuddles her back, it often brings contentment and a touch of normality to a scary situation. There are a lot more smiles when Miss Bella is around.

Bella’s family recently moved to Vancouver Island, but she still continues to do the “work” she loves and keep up her skills when her family flies or drives her up for monthly visits. Bella now has a new job too – training a replacement! Jazz is another therapy dog that now visits regularly to “fill in” for Bella and keep the smiles coming in the paeds unit.

Your turn to share – have you heard of pets helping in the recovery of people with an illness?

Sandra Wyatt

About Sandra Wyatt

Sandra Wyatt is the child life specialist in the paediatrics department of UHNBC in Prince George. She spends much of her "not so spare" time, developing and running her small dog daycare/boarding business. With rescue dogs of her own, walking 10km in a day is a usual day for her. Besides walking and working, Sandra loves gardening and this past spring, she re-arranged her whole garden to also “rescue” new plants a friend left behind after moving.

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