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

Blackmun Bay project in West Kelowna rejected by city councillors

Four nine-storey buildings with 700 residential and hotel units were originally planned for site along Campbell Road

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

‘Homes not shelters’: Those living on Kelowna streets rally for rights

Residents who live on the streets along Leon Avenue came together to demand change

Smile, a dentist conference sells out in Kelowna

The conference will be held on Nov. 15 and 16 at the Innovation Centre

Kelowna’s mayor questioned on transit, housing and quality of life

The luncheon was held at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna on Tuesday

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

‘Homes not shelters’: Those living on Kelowna streets rally for rights

On Tuesday, Leon Avenue residents came together to demand change

North Okanagan councillor pitches homeless camp at city hall

805 bylaw calls in 10 months were for inappropriately set-up camps

Vernon car fire deemed suspicious

SUV found fully engulfed with nobody around at 4 a.m. Tuesday on Commonage Road

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Police surround Peachland neighbourhood

The incident in Peachland is now over

North Okanagan motorists advised of road disruptions

Silver Star Road work scheduled for Thursday

Most Read