Interior Health’s new CEO Susan Brown and Board Chair Dr. Doug Cochrane visited Williams Lake to discuss the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment and other issues with local stakeholders. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

IH CEO, board chair meet Cariboo Memorial Hospital stakeholders

CEO Susan Brown said the redevelopment plan should be ready to submit to the government by April

The business plan for the Cariboo Memorial Hospital redevelopment should be ready to submit to the government by April, said Interior Health CEO Susan Brown.

“Then we will be waiting to hear back from government,” Brown told the Tribune this week while she and board chair Doug Cochrane were in Williams Lake to meet with stakeholders last week.

Many sites in the province have been doing business plans for hospital redevelopment and there have been escalating costs in construction, Brown said.

Brown said the CEO and board chair tour IH regularly.

“It gives us a chance to meet with staff, management, elected officials, foundations and auxiliaries — all the local people who come together to support health.”

Front and centre in the discussions was the redevelopment of Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

“We had good conversations about it with physicians,” she added. “We did a tour throughout the site and it was an opportunity for the staff and the leadership team to point out areas for opportunity or things they are really proud of.”

Williams Lake City Council has been advocating for the addition of a helipad to the hospital redevelopment, although while meeting with stakeholders Brown said she heard “not to let making the helipad fit in hold up the project.”

“I was told just to make sure the project moves forward and if it is not accommodated right now, make sure that we have the space to do it later,” she said. “Transport Canada are the people that give the OK to use helipads so we have to go through it with them.”

Read more: Costs up $15 for Cariboo Memorial upgrade before shovels hit the ground

Brown said Interior Health is trying to maximize incentives to recruit physicians to Williams Lake.

“They have a nice culture and community here in Williams Lake and they come together well,” she said. “I was here in September and met with Dr. Dan Brosseuk and Dr. Paul Magnuson about the challenges so it’s definitely on our radar, knowing that we have to take action.”

Read more: CMH emergency dept. remaining open despite doctor shortage

Interior Health is embarking on primary care networks planning with the divisions of family practice and Interior Health leadership.

“It allows them to take a deep dive into all the community services — mental health, longterm care, assisted living, home support, home health, and the patients that are seen in GPs’ offices and look and see what co-ordination needs to happen to best meet the needs of those people,” Brown said. “That work is just underway right now. We were just given the green light by the Ministry of Health.”

Once the work is completed, it will be submitted to the ministry for approval, she added.

Brown said with the Thompson Rivers University clinic closing temporarily while recruitment continues to hire a nurse practitioner, a new GP in Williams Lake is taking on 200 of the clinic’s patients and other doctors will take on some of the more complex patients.

Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Brown moved to Vancouver in 1991.

“I planned to be there a year and then never went home.”

She officially became CEO in October after doing a two-month transition period and lives in Kelowna.

“I’ve been with IH for seven and a half years, I was the chief operating officer before taking on this job,” she said.

As CEO she plans to continue working on initiatives and goals already in place with former CEO Chris Mazurkewich.

Brown said IH is focused on primary care with the divisions of family practice, mental health and Aboriginal health a priority.

Another focus is the culture of the organization, she added.

“We are engaging our staff and physicians to instill a sense of pride in what we do every day.”

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