Building for the Future: Staff are at the heart of local hospitals


Building for the Future: Staff are at the heart of local hospitals

The exceptional staff in Campbell River and the Comox Valley will make the North Island Hospital campuses truly great places to learn, work and receive care.

After years of planning, construction and collaboration, the opening of the new North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and the Comox Valley is within sight and Susi Shelswell, for one, can’t wait.

After 25 years caring for patients at Campbell River and District General Hospital Shelswell, a Registered Nurse and Clinical Coordinator, is more than ready to move into the new North Island Hospital campus in Campbell River this fall.

“I’m absolutely excited,” she said. “I can’t wait to get in there.”

While leaving familiar workplaces and moving to larger, more technologically complex facilities presents challenges, Shelswell’s enthusiasm is not isolated among the hundreds of staff at CRH and St. Joseph’s General Hospital who are training and preparing for the big move.

“We have such a great work culture. We’re a family here,” said Carol Tinga, a longtime Registered Nurse and Clinical Educator at SJGH. “Leaving St. Joseph’s will be bittersweet, but I’m really looking forward to working in the new hospital,” she added. “It’s really exciting to bring our family to the larger team and have the opportunity to care for patients in the new facilities.”

The energy and expertise of staff in both communities has been important during the planning and construction phases of the hospital project, and will be invaluable during and after the move into the new buildings.

“We are incredibly fortunate and grateful to have so many talented and dedicated staff from both St. Joseph’s and Campbell River coming into the new hospitals,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, President and CEO of Island Health. “Patients and clients will benefit tremendously from the knowledge, expertise and dedication that staff are bringing to these facilities.”

No one knows local healthcare like the people who deliver the service, which is why they have been involved in the planning and design phases of the project.

“There’s a person and a story behind every decision,” said Dr. Jeff Beselt, an Emergency Room Physician at Campbell River Hospital and also Island Health’s Executive Medical Director for the North Island and Comox Valley.

From the height of wall partitions to planning how patients will flow through Emergency and other departments, leaders and staff from CRH and SJGH have been integral to designing facilities that make sense for both patients and care teams.

“Our staff and physicians are the experts in their own work, and I think that the design of these new hospitals reflects that,” said Beselt. “The new hospitals won’t just support excellent patient care, they can also help us attract and retain medical staff who want to work there and on teams that support collaboration and continuous learning.”

For hundreds of people in the Comox Valley the opening of the new hospital means not only a new workplace, but also a new employer, as Island Health takes over delivery of acute-care services in the community.

“St. Joseph’s has a proud 100-year history of caring for the community,” said Carr. “We are deeply appreciative of the commitment that the board and leadership of St. Joseph’s have shown to the new hospitals, and we’re excited to welcome staff to the Island Health family in the Comox Valley.”

Although the new facilities are separate buildings in different communities they will have a great deal in common. Operating as one hospital with two campuses, the North Island Hospital will share cross-site leaders, standardized design and work structures, creating unique opportunities to blend the best of both workplaces.

“Taking the wonderful work that both sites currently offer and bringing them together as one will ultimately enhance patient care,” said Cathie Sturam, Acute Care Site Director at SJGH. “No matter which campus you receive care from it will be evidenced-based in the delivery of safe, quality care.”

Christina Rozema, Site Director at CRH, agreed, and added that there will be more work opportunities for staff who would like to work at both sites.

“The physical layout and work processes will be consistent, so staff will need minimal orientation to new departments if they choose to work at the other site as well as their home site,” she said.

Rozema and Sturam, who will work in partnership to manage the new Comox Valley and Campbell River sites, believe that hospital staff will benefit from being part of a larger, cross-site team. “It’s the strength in relationships that will make these hospitals a great place to work and learn,” added Sturam.

Although the main construction phase of this project is nearly complete, there is still a great deal of work to be done before the new hospitals are operati onal. While that work continues, Campbell River Hospital and St. Joseph’s General Hospital continue to operate and provide care and service to patients from across a vast region of Vancouver Island.

“I want to personally express thanks on behalf of Island Health to the hundreds of clinical and support staff who have supported this project while also providing excellent care and service at Campbell River Hospital and St. Joseph’s General Hospital,” said Carr. “Their dedication to their coworkers, patients and communities has been exceptional.”
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Building for the future