Every year the Interior Health CEO and Board Chair make their rounds in the different facilities within the region. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were unable to make these trips for the past few years. However, with restrictions being lifted, the trips are once again a possibility. 

On Thursday, January 26, Interior Health CEO Susan Brown and Board Chair Doug Cochrane were finally able to visit the Nicola Valley Hospital. This was their first time back to the facility since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to meet with our frontline staff, our physicians, the community, the hospital, the mayor, and the auxilary,” said Brown. “It just gives us a really good sense on how things are going.” 

Brown and Cochrane took a tour of the site, spoke with staff and leaders, and visited the emergency department which they are seeing for the first time.

“The facility has been changed dramatically since the emergency department was put into play, and it looks like it’s working really well,” Cochrane said. “I commend the staff there as they have a very relaxed healing environment as there could be.” 

The board chair commended the recognition wall he saw, which honours the community effort put into the emergency department and other areas of the hospital. 

“That speaks volumes about the commitment of the community for helping Interior Health deliver healthcare in Merritt.” 

Interior Health CEO Susan Brown and Board Chair Doug Cochrane. Izaiah Reyes/Herald

The Nicola Valley Hospital’s issue of frequent E.R. closures have been plaguing the Nicola Valley for quite some time. When asked about this, Brown addressed the concern and stated that they are looking at a long term approach to the solution. 

“Service disruption is always a last resort for us. We do a tremendous amount of work in order to fill vacant shifts, but there are times when things happen last minute that are unavoidable. We do have some vacancies with nursing and physicians, filling them will be be our priority going forward to prevent any closures from happening.” 

Brown explained that Interior Health wants to make sure that new nurses, physicians, and staff would view Merritt as a viable area residence.  

“We’re hoping to partner with the municipal government to showcase Merritt and what that could look like for people who are interested in coming here,” she said. “We want to showcase the opportunity to work in healthcare here as well as show the broader community should any new recruit moves here with a partner, spouse, or family.”

Interior Health will continue to work on recruitment and retention as Brown and Cochrane bring information they have gathered from their trip back to their staff to creat a plan catering Merritt in specific. 

“There was a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm from the staff, so that’s always great to see,” said Brown. “We’ve met with the physicians and they talked about ideas we would like to follow up on.”