“I love working in North Vancouver Island. I only wish I had known about GoHealth BC sooner!”
Nancy Jutte is a registered nurse who lives in London, Ontario, and travels to Island Health sites in North Vancouver Island (NVI) through an innovative Northern Health initiative called GoHealth BC. As the only program of its kind in British Columbia, GoHealth BC recruits nurses from across the country to work as Northern Health employees and deploy to rural and remote sites in Northern Health, Interior Health, and most recently, Island Health.
“The program is extremely flexible and the staff and leadership in North Vancouver Island have been amazing,” said Jutte. “I can schedule my shifts and my time off while still contributing to my pension, which is important to me. It also allows me to spend time with family who live in the Comox Valley.”
Jutte has been working closely with the team at Port McNeill Hospital (PMH). Since first visiting NVI last spring, she has fallen in love with the team and the community.
“This is my number one deployment location. I’ve gotten to know physicians, I recognize some of the patients, and I enjoy being part of the team here. Having that familiarity is so nice,” said Jutte.
“We are very grateful as Nancy continually provides more than expected - her efforts are absolutely incredible. She always goes above and beyond in her approach to nursing and communication with our team,” said Eric Head-Chen, clinical coordinator, PMH.
GoHealth BC nurse Nancy Jutte with Eric Head-Chen, clinical coordinator, Port McNeill Hospital
Originally exclusive to Northern Health as a way to address staffing challenges in rural and remote sites, GoHealth BC is a collaborative effort between Northern Health, Interior Health, Island Health, the Ministry of Health, and the British Columbia Nurses Union to allow Northern Health nurses to expand their scope of professional practice and take on new experiences in places like NVI.
“Nancy is the perfect example of someone who loves Vancouver Island but doesn’t currently live here. GoHealth BC allows her to work in North Vancouver Island and receive the pension, benefits, sick time, vacation days and other services that health authority employees are entitled to,” said Marc Lawrence, Executive Director, GoHealth BC.
“It’s also an effective recruitment tool that allows nurses from other, often urban parts of Canada to explore all that British Columbia has to offer. In fact, one of our nurses spent the summer working in various rural and remote sites in B.C. to determine the best location for her family.”
Martin Gatan is a registered nurse who has already been deployed to NVI twice through GoHealth BC. While the Calgary resident is currently unable to relocate with his wife and family to Vancouver Island, he appreciates how the GoHealth BC experience allows him to satisfy his love of travel.
“I have itchy feet and enjoy exploring new places. Plus, GoHealth BC gives me a lot of flexibility for scheduling vacations and breaks,” he said. “My co-workers are so friendly and accommodating and I love being close to the ocean and going fishing and hiking on the weekends while I am here. North Vancouver Island is a terrific place to be when I am not at home with my family.”
GoHealth BC nurse Martin Gatan (2nd from left) and members of the Port Hardy Community Health Services team
Island Health’s participation in GoHealth BC aligns with our strategic goal of increasing health human resource capacity and adapting to changing workforce needs. As the first Island Health region to be supported by GoHealth BC, NVI is benefiting from knowledgeable and experienced Northern Health nurses.
“GoHealth BC nurses get the same orientations and onboarding as our staff, and they are familiar with our processes, policies and procedures. This allows our staff to know what to expect,” said Ian Wood, NVI Clinical Services Director. “It’s also incredibly efficient on the administrative side, because GoHealth BC takes care of everything - scheduling, travel, accommodations, and food. The only thing for us to do is welcome their nurses to our teams.”
“GoHealth BC helps to connect and bridge between nurses and our sites,” said Head-Chen. “They recognize, propose and provide a set of schedules to fill our future gaps. This bilateral approach and combination of strengths is beautiful!”
Since March, 17 GoHealth BC nurses including Nancy Jutte and Martin Gatan have been deployed to sites in NVI.
“We are dedicated to taking a very personal approach. Our team works closely with our nurses to ensure they are well supported in all aspects of their deployments,” said Lawrence. “Our commitment is to ensuring our nurses and the sites that we support have positive experiences.”
Currently, GoHealth BC employs more than 150 nurses with around 20 more joining the program in coming months. As GoHealth BC expands, more rural and remote regions in Island Health and other health authorities will be added to the program.
For more information, visit GoHealth BC.