This summer, Interior Health is on the frontlines of an emergency that continues to prove how far people will go to help one another in times of crisis.
As unprecedented numbers of our patients and residents were evacuated from hospitals and care sites, we’ve seen our own staff, along with physicians, emergency responders, First Nations, social services agencies, churches, charitable organizations, universities, businesses, and individual citizens come forward to ensure these vulnerable people are kept safe and comfortable.
The tremendous outpouring of support has been incredible and whether time, money, or toothbrushes, it all helps. As well, I cannot say enough about the generosity of health sites in Interior Health and Northern Health who have taken in patients and clients evacuated from their home facilities. Thank you also to those working in media who have been working hard to keep citizens up-to-date about the evolving situation.
It’s quite simply impossible to list all the acts of kindness that have occurred, but among the stories that really touched my heart are those about physicians, nurses, care aides and support staff who stayed with patients, despite knowing their own families were at that moment being evacuated.
The dedication demonstrated by so many people is outstanding and we are deeply grateful to those within Interior Health and all of our partners in the communities that welcomed evacuees.
Our heartfelt sympathy goes to those people who lost property; ranchers whose livelihoods have been impacted; businesses that lost customers; and First Nations whose communities and natural environment have been profoundly affected by the wildfires.
With the extent of this crisis, we know health repercussions will continue in the months ahead.
There is no doubt that this emergency is causing incredible upheaval, stress, and frustration.
Our primary focus will continue to be the health and safety of residents, as well as that of our own staff and physicians. While we have made progress on re-entry in several areas, we are taking care and caution with decisions to re-open sites and services only when it’s safe to do so. The wildfire activity remains close and continues to impact transportation routes so every decision is well considered before we re-open our sites or restore full services.
Despite the ongoing issues, it is a credit to the strength of human nature that smiling faces are still the order of the day at our health-care sites. I’ve seen it time and time again in my visits to our communities over the last several weeks.
To our community partners, staff, physicians, and all those involved in fighting the fires — we offer our sincerest thanks. You have truly proven that every person matters – and every person can make a difference.
Chris Mazurkewich is President and CEO of Interior Health (IH).