Heather Floris, head nurse at St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)

Vanderhoof’s Community Builder: Heather Floris, head nurse at St. John Hospital

Community Builder is a monthly sponsored post, courtesy of John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes. The article shines light on volunteers in the community.

For the month of June, The Express reached out to Heather Floris, head nurse at St. John Hospital and active volunteer in Vanderhoof.

Floris has been a frontline worker through the virus pandemic and is on the Omineca Safe House Board of Directors. Additionally, she has been one of the organizers for dry grad for six consecutive years now.

In the past, when her kids Hunter, Ethan and Emma were involved in sports, she was figure skating president. Floris was also involved in minor hockey, soccer and the Steve Nash Youth Challenge.

“My mom always used to say, if you aren’t willing to help and jump in, don’t say a word. So I think I took that away and yeah, I always say to my kids, you don’t sit back and you don’t wait. You jump in and help,” Floris said.

For Floris, being a volunteer is an essential part of community living.

“You have to be a doer. You can’t sit back and wait for someone to come along and say — Oh hey, here is your job, or hey, here is your spot — you need to learn that you need to work. And if you work for things, it’s going to happen,” she added.

As a frontline worker, Floris said the pandemic caused a lot of changes for both the hospital staff and community. However, in her view, Vanderhoof and surrounding areas “stepped up a lot” by being patient and considerate about the changes in hospital procedures.

“I think we have done a really good job in this community and the outlying communities about social distancing and staying at home, and being safe and I think the communities deserve a lot of credit for that.”

For hospital staff, when the pandemic became a reality and the province started issuing guidelines, Floris said the work increased a lot. Staff was trying to get protocols in place, along with making sure their communication channels were open.

“It was a lot of work, but the communication between our leadership and the doctors and nurses was very good. So that helped a lot,” Floris said.

To manage stress, the head nurse said staff tries to “joke around”, or when they can, staff goes out for some breaks so they can leave the building for short periods of time.

Now with B.C. in Phase 2 of the pandemic, Floris said hospital staff is less stressed because there are plans in place. “I think when everyone is informed about how the situation is going to be, and how to prepare for the situation, that helps,” she said.

From Nova Scotia originally, Heather (Floris) and her husband Marty moved to Vanderhoof 25 years ago in their search for jobs after finishing university in Vancouver.

“We drove here on Feb 23 on 5 p.m. and came over the forestry hill, and I was like where the hell are we? It’s pitch black and Marty had come up himself to first kinda scope it out, and I am like where are we?! And he said – don’t worry don’t worry, there are jobs here. And I was like ‘Oh My God!’ I will never forget that,” Floris said while laughing and reminiscing their journey.

But that feeling changed, once the couple spent more time in the community. “I think this community is very driven to help people. It’s always, no matter who it is, what’s going on, they are always there to jump in to help the person get over whatever is going on. I think the community spirit here is very strong,” she said.

Lastly, Floris wanted to thank the community for being patient with the changes at the hospital.

“I know it’s been hard, but everyone has been so accommodating and patient, and I would like to thank the community for that.”

Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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

Just Posted

B.C. snap election: What we know about candidates running in the Nechako Lakes riding

Premier Horgan called for a snap election Monday, Sept. 21.

Manslaughter plea entered for 2012 death

Two others earlier pleaded guilty in murder of Fribjon Bjornson

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Letter: Assume COVID is in your community; Act accordingly

Chief of Staff at St. John Hospital writes letter to residents of the Omineca region

Vanderhoof’s Anonymous Art Show aims to go Canada-wide next year

The Anonymous Art Show in it’s second year is gaining popularity across… Continue reading

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Most Read