Over the years, Sundre Hospital has had its share of challenges. Throughout them all, the health-care team has always found a way to maintain a high level of patient care.
When there was a possibility in 2016 that the 15-bed long term care wing would be closed, the community came together to find an alternative.
“There were a number of community rallies that were attended by a huge portion of the population,” explained Sundre physician, Dr. Vesta Michelle Warren. “We actually went up to the Legislature and presented the concerns to the Minister of Health in person and she replied, ‘come up with a plan for the beds’.”
A group of local community and health leaders presented a new proposal to the provincial government. In the end, five long term care beds were retained, four were converted to restorative care beds, and one to acute care.
During this period of uncertainty, the health team stepped up to find solutions, seeking purpose in their roles, and providing leadership when called upon.
“And it didn’t matter what day we came to work, there was always an informal leader who stepped up to the plate and said ‘we got this’ “adds Chantal Crawford, RN and Clinical Nurse Educator.
Undertaking unusual, extensive, and strategic efforts to ensure the quality of patient care they provide remained appropriately high, the team went to exceptional lengths to create a facility where patients and their families come first.
“How we do health in this hospital affects the entire community,” explains Gerald Ingeveld, chair of the Sundre Hospital Futures Committee. “[The health team] has been doing extra, over and above training on their own time, their own cost to make this hospital the best it can be.”
According to Mark Jackson, pharmacist at Sundre Hospital, it’s been a “win-win” for both the community and the patients. “For a hospital job, I would say it’s probably my dream hospital job.”
Dr. Warren agrees, adding that Sundre is a fun environment to walk into, because you are amongst friends when you come to work.
“The nurses can question the doctors ‘why are you doing that?’, without fear of that hierarchy,” Warren adds. “It’s nice to be part of a forward-facing team, a solution orientated team.”
When you walk into Sundre, it feels different. It feels good.
Ranessa Watt, Combined Lab and X-Ray Technologist at Sundre Hospital, says the team trusts in each other’s expertise.
“If I go to a physician and I say ‘hey, I think this patient has a fracture. You need to come look at this.’ They trust me,” Watt explains. “We all need each other and for whatever reason, Sundre understands that better than any other facility I’ve ever worked in, which is why I still drive two-and-a-half hours to come pick up shifts here.”
Audrey McKenzie, a registered nurse at Sundre Hospital, says Sundre is special.
“The one consistent theme that I hear our new hires saying is that it’s a different environment. When you walk into Sundre, it feels different. It feels good.”
“We’ve always said this is my family away from family,” explains Chantal Crawford. “We are a family here.”
Sundre committee member, Heidi Overguard, says the community is grateful to have such an exceptional health team.
“We have physicians that go above and beyond, every shift,” Overguard explains. “We have really great nurses who believe in quality improvement, and who are on other committees and do a lot of education. And we have other support staff that are irreplaceable and always there. Your maintenance department, right to every aspect of it, everybody works well together.”
“They communicate and they all have a common goal which is to provide quality health-care”
Heidi’s mom, Joanne Overguard, practised as a registered nurse in Sundre for 35 years. She was one of those informal leaders who pushed the team forward during both good, and bad times. Sadly, Joanne passed away earlier this year, and in her honour, a memorial scholarship was established to help local students find their way into rural health care.
For demonstrating superior commitment to their patients, health-care team, and community, the Sundre Hospital & Care Team was presented with the first-ever Rhapsody Health-care Heroes Award at a celebration event in Sundre on November 10, 2018.
“It’s nice that the team is recognized,” says Dr. Bill Ward, a physician in Sundre. “And it’s the whole that’s recognized rather than any one particular person.”
“It’s an honour to be recognized as one of the team members in this hospital,” adds Susan Myette-Rath, housekeeping leader at Sundre Hospital.
Audrey McKenzie agrees: “I thank RhPAP for recognizing that Sundre has something special here.”
Gerald Ingeveld appreciates the team focus for the award.
“This award is something that we really appreciate RhPAP coming up with, because it’s a way in which the community can say thank-you but a province wide organization like RhPAP can say thank-you. It gives such authority to that thank-you.”
According to Bernie French, Unit Clerk, the award is a testament to the little hospital that could.
“We’ve often felt that we were kinda like the little sister hospital of the Central Zone. You know, we were just so tiny. But though we may be small, we are fierce.”
Heidi Overguard says her mom would be proud of what the Sundre Hospital and Care Team and the local community have accomplished together.
“Even though those stormy times are difficult, when you come out of them you’re stronger, you work better together, you communicate better, and you learn something from that,” Overguard explains.
“This place was her home. This was her family. I think she would say ‘we did it together, and this team is amazing’.”