Dr. Rebecca Janssen, Chief of Staff at St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof. (Submitted photo

Dr. Rebecca Janssen, Chief of Staff at St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof. (Submitted photo

Community Builder: Dr. Rebecca Janssen, Chief of Staff at St. John Hospital

The Omineca Express will be featuring frontline workers every month during the virus pandemic.

This month, for our community builder piece, the Omineca Express reached out to the Chief of Staff at St. John Hospital, Dr. Rebecca Janssen. Janssen has been an effective leader in the community by making sure she puts out up-to-date information in letters every week to help Vanderhoofians cope with COVID-19.

Q: As a frontline worker in Vanderhoof during this pandemic, what does your day look like?

A: I am starting each day with phone meetings from 7:30 am – 8 am. I then head into the office to do mostly telephone visits with patients. I often have other meetings and phone calls mixed in. I am also doing some ER shifts throughout the week.

Q: What kind of reaction have you seen from Vanderhoof residents as a result of the pandemic? Do you find that people are taking the necessary steps?

A: I think that our residents are mostly doing a really great job of taking this situation seriously, and self isolating as advised. I think that it is pretty stressful, lonely and frustrating for people who are cut off from family and friends. I know that it also creates significant financial stressors for many people.

I have also been very impressed with our local community leaders throughout this pandemic. Our Community Working Group has member s from the Municipal Council, First nations, RCMP, Ambulance, Search and Rescue, business community and faith community (amongst others) all working together. The collaboration has been wonderful.

Q: Also, how are you doing through this pandemic? Has it been stressful and what are you doing to cope?

A: I miss my patients. I think this experience has really made me appreciate just how nice it is to sit down and chat with people.

As Chief of Staff, I have a lot of teleconferences to plan our local response and stay up-to-date with what is happening at the Northern Health level. I wouldn’t say that this sort of administrative work is necessarily in my wheelhouse. However, it is important and necessary and I’m happy to do the work for those reasons.

Regarding coping, it has been really nice to spend more time with my family. My husband Mitch and I have three little children: Tommy (6), Alex (4) and Claire (2). We are going for lots of walks and eating lots of home cooked meals together. I am also enjoying filling up our little hobby farm with chickens, ducks, pigs…Mitch thinks maybe I should stop buying animals. But I think babies (human and animal) make my day brighter.

Q: As the Chief of Staff, how do you think hospital staff are doing through this pandemic? How are they coping?

A: Again, I think this situation has pushed a lot of people out of their comfort zone. However, I think that our hospital staff have done an amazing job planning, re-organizing and working together to keep our community safe and well cared for. I’m very proud of our team.

Q: How did it feel to see the support from Vanderhoof when they rallied for frontline workers? Did that help with morale?

A: It was amazing.

Q: Why did you choose to become a doctor?

A: My Dad was a rural GP and my hero. I wanted to be a doctor after I saw him “MedEvac” a patient out of our small town ER by helicopter. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I was 5. After that it evolved into a love of science and an interest in helping people solve problems. I can’t imagine loving a job more than I love rural medicine.

Q: Are you from Vanderhoof? If not, where did you move from and when?

A: I was born in rural North Dakota, but I grew up in Southwestern Ontario. I moved out west to Victoria for my residency training after medical school. I did two months of rural training in Vanderhoof and I just loved it. The docs were so welcoming and I had such a great time. I moved here permanently in March 2012. I met my husband that summer at the Air Show. My husband is a local guy (his grandpa is W.L. McLeod). We plan on staying here to raise our family.

Q: What do you like about our community?

A: Vanderhoof has such an amazing spirit. I love the hard working “can do” attitude and the responsibility people feel for their neighbours and town. I also love the connection that people here have to the outdoors. I would never have guessed 10 years ago how much I would love hunting, fishing and hobby farming.

Q: Something you would like to tell people about COVID-19 and Vanderhoof’s response?

A: I think our team has done a really good job preparing for COVID 19. Now we need to work on getting back to providing care for all of the other health problems that people face. This work has begun, and will continue as we ramp up services for urgent surgeries, lab and X ray services. After that we will work on providing care for more elective/routine appointments, tests and procedures.

Know a frontline worker in Vanderhoof who you would like to see featured in the Omineca Express? Please write to the Editor at aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com.

Community Builder is a monthly piece in the Vanderhoof Omineca Express, sponsored by Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. To subscribe to the Vanderhoof Omineca Express, please call 250-567-9258.

Community Leadership

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Two snowmobilers stranded overnight near Yanks Peak were rescued Wednesday, Dec. 2 by Central Cariboo Search Rescue with mutual aid from Prince George Search and Rescue and South Cariboo Search. (Central Cariboo Search and Rescue photo)
Central Cariboo Search and Rescue rescues two snowmobilers from Cariboo Mountains

Prince George Search and Rescue, South Cariboo Search and Rescue did mutual aid

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

Most Read