Health Care Review: Change for the better predicted for IH

Throughout the year…we managed to cover a lot of territory in the Okanagan including Keremeos, Oliver, Penticton, Princeton, and Vernon.

Erwin Malzer, Contributor

As I mark my first anniversary as board chair of Interior Health, I’m looking back on the highlights and challenges of 2015.

From wildfires that blazed through much of our region, to major investments in surgical care, and a change in leadership within our organization, it has been quite a year.

We saw the departure of Dr. Robert Halpenny as president and CEO and in October, we announced the hiring of his  successor, Chris Mazurkewich.

Prior to working with Alberta Health Services, Chris was chief operating officer, strategic and corporate services at Interior Health. It is great to have him back.

In September, we welcomed the first patients to the new Interior Heart & Surgical Centre.

Located in Kelowna, this state-of-the-art facility now delivers the highest level of surgical care ever seen in the Interior.

We are thrilled to offer this calibre of health care to residents from every corner of our region.

Other capital projects underway include Penticton Regional Hospital, where three shortlisted teams have submitted proposals for a new patient care tower.

We expect to announce a preferred proponent in early 2016, with construction to start later that year and completion expected in 2019.

In Vernon, the top two floors of the Polson Tower, including 14 new inpatient beds, are nearing completion, while plans are also moving forward for the addition of 85 residential care beds in Vernon by mid-2017.

Kelowna is also receiving 100 new residential care beds in early 2017.

In Princeton, a partnership with Shared Care and the local Division of Family Practice has seen access to specialists almost double over a one-year period and now spans 11 specialty areas. These specialist visits along with telemedicine support have greatly enhanced patient care.

A significant milestone was reached this year when our IH board approved the Letter of Understanding with the Ulkatcho First Nation, the last of eight health agreements that create a strong partnership to improve health outcomes for aboriginal people.

Kelowna’s Adolescent Psychiatry Unit also marked a significant milestone, celebrating 10 years of specialized care for young people across the region with significant mental health issues.

Our work to expand access to HIV testing and treatment has led to significant increases in screening for the disease.

Since 2013, HIV testing in the region has increased by 50 per cent. Screening is a critical step in controlling and eventually ending the AIDS epidemic.

Throughout the year, I really enjoyed meeting staff, physicians, volunteers, and our elected officials. We managed to cover a lot of territory in the Okanagan including Keremeos, Oliver, Penticton, Princeton, and Vernon.

These visits are a priority for myself and the CEO, and over the coming year we will visit other communities in the region.

There is much to celebrate, but we also have much to accomplish. In an effort to decrease demand on hospital and residential services, we are shifting our focus to integrated primary and community care, embracing new approaches that not only benefit our patients but also the health-care system.

At Interior Health, every person matters and I am extremely proud of the staff, physicians and volunteers who demonstrate this philosophy every day in their dedication to quality health care.

Our current board is exceptionally engaged and, for the first time, has a majority of women serving and chairing half of the board committees.

I am confident that the next year will bring plenty of change for the better.

Erwin Malzer is chair of the Interior Health board of directors.

 

Just Posted

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Power out in West Kelowna

More than 1,500 West Kelowna residents are in the dark.

Boat for Hope back on Okanagan Lake

The Variety Children’s Charity pirate themed fundraiser returns to the waters off Kelowna

Inaugural ‘redeye’ to leave Kelowna for Toronto Saturday night

Introduction of overnight flight increases Air Canada’s Kelowna-Toronto service to twice a day

Kelowna culinary student cooks her way to Italy

Okanagan College’s Erin MacDougall has won an expenses-paid trip after winning cooking competition

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

Cozy Bay to close

Summerland seafood restaurant’s lease will not be renewed

In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman

Feds announce measures to protect endangered whale species

Canada’s Whale Initiative is part of the federal government’s $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan

Reported stabbing in Lake Country

Police are believed to be investigating after a reported stabbing at a house party Friday night

COC session vote approves Calgary as potential host for 2026 Olympics

Scott Hutcheson, chair of Calgary’s Olympic bid corporation — called vote a positive step forward

B.C. man wins job he was denied after saying he had depression

Transport Canada has been order to give Chris Hughes a high-level job and nearly $500,000

Most Read