Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown. (Contributed)

Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown. (Contributed)

COLUMN: Overcoming unimaginable odds in health care

Interior Health CEO Susan Brown reflects on 2020, expresses hope for 2021

As we look back on 2020, we might be tempted to focus on the challenges. However, I want to take a moment to reflect on the strength and resilience demonstrated by individuals and communities as we overcame unimaginable odds together.

Our health care system, supported by outstanding teams of providers, patients and families, found new and innovative ways to provide and receive care. Our capital projects continued and new services opened to ensure more patients could access the health care services they need, closer to home.

READ MORE: Another 84 COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health

The COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard early in the year and as new information about this novel virus came streaming in, health-care teams throughout Interior Health stepped up to rapidly adapt new processes and procedures.

A team of health-care professionals at Royal Inland Hospital shared their experience about working and adjusting to the early days of the pandemic on our News@IH website, Facing the Unknown. It was inspirational throughout these past 10 months to see the spirit of our health-care workers and physicians across the health authority.

You may need a tissue to watch as they encouraged each other on YouTube in this video, Health Care Staff Supporting Health Care Staff.

These creative efforts to keep staff and patients feeling optimistic are just a few examples of what went on consistently in the background at health care sites throughout Interior Health.

When I consider the stresses that health-care staff and physicians have endured in this pandemic, I am deeply moved and so proud of the attitude and strength of our teams who have one shared goal – to protect you and each other and to provide the best care possible.

READ MORE: Canadian emergency doctors call for greater transparency on vaccine rollout

READ MORE: Yukon could be first place in Canada to achieve herd immunity, says top doctor

The behind-the-scenes work included upgrading technology to provide care from a distance, opening a new emergency department at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, emergency department and pharmacy renovations at the Penticton Regional Hospital, and continued construction of the new Patient Care Tower at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

Urgent primary care centres continued to open, offering access to primary care services for many patients who don’t have a primary care provider of their own and to those who needed to see a physician or nurse practitioner immediately.

Surgeries restarted in May and through the collective efforts of the entire surgical team from our physicians, to nurses, to cleaning staff and leadership staff, we have made great initial progress in catching up on the elective surgeries that were paused in March to ensure hospital beds and workers were available to handle a surge in COVID-19.

The year 2020 taught us how to work together to face challenges and you were there with us every step of the way; washing your hands like never before, staying home when you were asked, wearing masks to protect others and making huge sacrifices when you were only able to visit relatives in long-term care from a distance. We know how difficult this was for our residents and their families.

READ MORE: B.C. considers provincial COVID-19 bubble as visitors come in

READ MORE: COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

You also showed your support for our health care workers with pot banging at night, parades and beautiful hand-painted signs at our health-care facilities. We are profoundly grateful.

Now we have reached 2021 and we still have a pandemic underway, but we have renewed hope with the launch of a massive immunization program to halt the spread of the COVID-19. The fast development of a safe and effective vaccine is monumental and a credit to dedicated scientists around the world who were able to build on what is already known about vaccinations.

In Interior Health, a full-scale effort is already in progress to immunize our most vulnerable populations and the health-care workers most at risk from COVID-19. This will take place over the next three months. At the moment, COVID-19 vaccines are not available for the general public, but this will change quickly. We anticipate everyone in the B.C. Interior who wants a vaccine will have been immunized by the fall. Until then, as long as we keep each other healthy, we will soon be able to celebrate renewed connections within our homes, our communities and our health-care sites.

Thank you again for your support in 2020 and Happy New Year to you all!

CoronavirusHealthHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is comfortable waiting his turn to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as per the B.C. government’s updated vaccination timeline released on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (File photo)
Province’s vaccine timeline a shot of hope for Salmon Arm mayor

Mayor Alan Harrison sees majority of residents taking precautions against COVID-19

Adams Lake Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse (pictured), Neskonlith Kukpi7 Judy Wilson and Little Shuswap Lake Kukpi7 Oliver Arnouse released a joint notice regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their respective communities. (File photo)
Secwepemc First Nation bands responding to COVID-19 cases in their communities

Adams Lake, Neskonlith and Little Shuswap Lake band chiefs release joint notice

The CSRD will be hosting online budget consultations and their board meetings will also be streamed online for the foreseeable future. (CSRD Image)
Columbia Shuswap Regional District budget and board meetings will be held online

A first draft of the budget is available on the regional district’s website

Canadian poet Wali Shah, former NHL’er Corey Hirsch, author, activist and empowerment coach Ashley Bendiksen, and successful Salmon Arm entrepreneur Missy MacKintosh are among the guest speakers participating in the Shuswap Youth Launch event on Thursday, Feb. 25. (Shuswap Youth Launch image)
Shuswap youth excited to launch inspiring virtual event

Corey Hirsch, Wali Shah, Missy MacKintosh among guest speakers

A logging truck spilled its load on Squilax-Anglemont Road after failing to negotiate a shard corner on Jan. 19. (Google Maps image)
Logging truck loses load, blocks traffic in North Shuswap

Jan. 19 incident on Squilax-Anglemont Road obstructed traffic for several hours

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘It’s incredibly upsetting’: Kelowna health care worker demands WestJet ticket refund

Kelowna woman has been waiting almost a year for a refund on her Kelowna to Edmonton flight

After a Vernon resident tried to domesticate a pair of gopher snakes, BC Conservation Service reminded that it is against the law to keep wild animals in one’s possession. (Yuval Levy/Unsplash)
Wild gopher snakes aren’t pets: Vernon conservation officer

After resident kept two gopher snakes in his home, conservation reminds it’s illegal to domesticate wildlife

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read