Written by Diane Wild, Senior Consultant, Communications and Public Affairs

Our employees prove time and again that caring is at the core of what we do.

Sometimes being the best in health care means stepping up for other care providers in times of a crisis. While firefighters battled wildfires across British Columbia this summer, health care workers battled on behalf of displaced patients and overworked workers.

When hospitals, residential care homes and other health care centres were evacuated, more than 250 patients and residents were transferred to facilities in Northern Health, and approximately 10,000 evacuees were provided primary and community care services in the region.

Northern Health’s employees were picking up extra shifts, but it became obvious that relief help was needed throughout the summer. They reached out to other health authorities to see if they could spare care aids and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to commit to a block of shifts and ease the burden.

Fraser Health, the unions, and one of our vendors stepped up in a big way. Everyone’s reaction was to do whatever was needed to help, and fast. Our People and Organization Development team immediately worked out a plan to find employees to work temporarily for Northern Health, without affecting our own staffing levels.

“We had a small but mighty team working on this in a short period of time, while doing their regular, demanding jobs. Seeing how we pulled together to make it happen was one of the proudest moments in my time at Fraser Health,” said Nisha Esmail, Director, Workforce Optimization.

“I think this shows our employee’s alignment with Fraser Health’s vision: Better health. Best in health care.,” added Parizad Mistry, Managing Consultant, Human Resources Consulting. “It is heartwarming to see the response and how dedicated we are to providing care.”

Because they were approaching a specific group of people – casual care aids and LPNs – staffing services started with a small team making individual phone calls and handling a lot of voicemails, which was very labour-intensive. So they turned to the new Automated Shift Callout system, working with the vendor to quickly create a customized callout based off of a script created specifically for this purpose.

The response was overwhelming. More than 70 casual care aids and LPNs who fit the parameters offered their services, and 11 were deployed by a grateful Northern Health.

Fraser Health shared our process with Vancouver Coastal Health so they too could offer assistance and the government is creating a provincial registry to facilitate staffing in similar future emergencies.

“Many of the people who responded had a personal connection to the places affected by the wildfires,” said Ashley Schatroph, Quality Improvement Coordinator, Fraser Health Staffing Services. “They were excited to have an opportunity to do something to assist.”

Look for an account by one of our employees who answered the call in a future edition of The Beat.

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