Hospital Services Administrator (HSA) Debbie Strang calls herself a lifer, dedicated to medical services and the community of Quesnel.
Her family moved to Quesnel when Debbie was six-months-old, and from a very young age, she accompanied her mother to her job as a care aid, helping to feed residents, brush their hair, write letters and other things appropriate for a young girl.
“My grandma was also my hero, she was a nurse,” Debbie said.
As she grew to a
young woman, Debbie joined the first nursing program through College of New Caledonia and was one of the first graduates, beginning
her nursing career in Quesnel.
“Some of my 1992 graduating cohorts are still here,” she said with a smile.
Debbie’s chosen field was psychiatric nursing and in 1997 was a staff nurse in Quesnel’s QUESST unit. By 1998, she went in as unit coordinator.
The majority of her career since that time has also been in a leadership role.
Working out of Quesnel, Debbie was an area director for mental
health and addictions with a territory that ranged all over the northern interior.
During this time Debbie sat around tables with health service administrators from around the north and learned the various issues facing communities. Although her specialty was psychiatry, all aspects of the health system interested her and it was a natural progression to step into the health services administration position in 2011 with Robson Valley.
“The learning curve for all the other hospital services was challenging, especially in light of the remote area and limited services,” she said.
With her appointment as HSA in Quesnel in 2014, coming home to Quesnel is a pleasure for Debbie and taking on this new challenge is proof of her extensive leadership expertise.
She was the interim HSA in Quesnel while still HSA of Robson Valley, splitting her time between the two locations.
“I’m still supporting Robson Valley as they transition to a new HSA, but I’m here in Quesnel for the long term,” she said.
Debbie describes her leadership style as empowering people to perform to their best abilities while providing support and guidance.
“I’m not a micromanager,” she said with a laugh.
Of course she remains in direct contact with her staff but prefers to meet regularly and allow them to manage their own departments.
Partnering with the community, patients and families is also very important to Debbie and she sees medical services moving more and more towards services delivered outside the four walls of a hospital.
“The medical community must work as a team and within that team are all the people necessary to serve the patient in the best way possible,” she said.
“Partnering on all levels is essential for the entire community.”
Debbie can also be found walking the wards at the hospital, the halls of Dunrovin Park Lodge and visiting other facilities around town.
“I want to learn about the patient experience from the patient and their families, I want to know what impressions and ideas nurses and other medical staff have for the best possible practices,” she said.
“I’m not afraid to get into the trenches.”
With 22 years in the health care field (20 of that in a variety of leadership roles), Debbie feels confident about the career choice she’s made and looks forward to finishing her career in Quesnel.
“I’m here and it feels good to be home,” she said.
Regarding the future
of health care in Quesnel, Debbie said integration of hospital and community partnerships in the delivery of health care services is a priority for Northern Health and the local services as well.
“Patients and the community know what needs doing and we need to be open and learn from them.”
She is also looking at easing some of the immediate problems in the hospital such as better planning on such issues as patient overflow and discharge issues which in turn manages other problems as well.
As she re-aquaints herself with the various services, programs and the people who deliver them as well as challenges Quesnel’s medical system faces, Debbie is ready to roll her sleeves up and get to work.
However, she begins with a love of the community, a fundamental connection to the people and their issues and a sincere desire to get the job done.