About the last thing Ashcroft resident Joyce Beddow-Buckland was expecting, as she drove to Calgary on December 20, 2017, was a phone call from Health Minister Adrian Dix, asking if she would accept a two-year appointment to the Board of Directors of Interior Health (IH).
“We had a good conversation,” she says. “He said my name had been put forward by a couple of people. I don’t know who, but I have an idea.”
Beddow-Buckland, now retired, spent more than 30 years on the health-care frontline, as a home support worker, long-term care aide, and in assisted living and recreation, most of it in B.C. “The Minister said they were looking for someone [for the board] who had been a frontline worker in rural B.C.” Beddow-Buckland did the paperwork and filled out the forms, and on January 1 formally accepted the appointment.
She is one of four new IH board members, and joins five returning members who have been on the IH board for some time. She had an opportunity to meet her fellow board members for the first time during a three-day board session in Kelowna earlier this month, which contained a day of orientation and an opportunity to meet IH officials and learn about their mandates (normal board meetings extend over two days). Before attending the session, however, she had to complete an intense six-module online course with an exam at the end. She will be going to Vancouver this week for an education workshop, and notes there is a lot to learn about strategic planning, governance, and much more.
Beddow-Buckland says that the nine members come from all parts of the immense region served by Interior Health, and from a diverse group of communities, including Invermere, Williams Lake, Chase, and Nelson. “All the people come with some sort of health-related experience, and everyone brings a perspective from different levels of health-care. It’s a really good mix of people, and everyone seems very involved.”
There are five sub-committees of the board, but Beddow-Buckland says they meet as a whole so everyone knows what is going on. “I thought I would be a seat-warmer, but it’s just the opposite. I feel very comfortable, very welcomed. There are a lot of chances for input, and to ask questions. If I need information that someone doesn’t have at their fingertips, I’ll get an email with the answer.”
She notes that the board members have a lot of common concerns. “We all have input, and people ask great questions. Dr. Doug Cochrane [the board chair, who was appointed in September 2017] is very involved, very compassionate, very positive. He wants things to work well, and wants everyone to be involved.”
Beddow-Buckland says that all the board members, new and returning, were very surprised to receive a personal phone call from Adrian Dix. “Some people who have been on the board for years said they have never spoken with the Health Minister.”
Her passions are rural health-care and seniors’ care. “They’re two very important things. But Interior Health is huge. It goes to the Alberta and Washington State borders and as far north as Williams Lake. It has the largest Indigenous population of any health authority. We have to look at the big picture and fight for all of rural B.C.
“Everything is a process, and we have to be very proactive. Ashcroft is not unique in what we have. We have to make sure we keep what we can get.”