The PHSA+ Awards recognize those across PHSA that demonstrate excellence and dedication. Today we are profiling Jeanette Stewart, director, PHSA programs and disaster psychosocial services at Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC).
Jeanette was nominated by colleague and team member Julie Kaplan, who said, "I have had the great privilege of reporting to Jeanette for over a decade. Not only a leader committed to living her values and modelling the values of PHSA, she is a true mentor and an advocate for doing what is right. As Jeanette nears her retirement years, I believe strongly that her passion and commitment to building capacity in B.C.’s health care system should be honoured and recognized."
Jeanette took some time to chat with us about her work and her experience in health care.
Currently I am responsible for our provincial psychosocial program that includes two streams, the disaster psychosocial program (DPS) and the provincial overdose mobile response team (MRT). The DPS program utilizes a volunteer network consisting of mental health professionals and paraprofessionals, including: psychologists, social workers, counsellors and psychotherapists, police victim services and spiritual care workers. We are responsible for the development and provision of psychosocial strategies involving a continuum of support services, targeting people, both public and responders alike, who are affected by an emergency or disaster. On the other hand the MRT is made up of 12 full-time practitioners with diverse backgrounds and skills, and includes counsellors, psychologists and former police victim service workers; They offer psychosocial support across the province to first responders, frontline workers and people with lived experience/peers. Up until the middle of last year I was also responsible for the PHSA emergency management portfolio.
I was so surprised, very humbled and honoured to have been selected as a PHSA + Award winner. I have been privileged to work with so many interesting people over the years who have been such a great inspiration to me.
Firstly, working with a great office team who are devoted to doing the best job they can with both programs and secondly, I know the support provided by both our volunteers and staff in the field is making a positive difference in people’s lives.
What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
There are so many elements that have made my work so rewarding over the years and in this answer I have to include my work in emergency management because it has shaped my career over the last 26 years. I started in health care in 1999 at BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre just before Y2K and I have never looked back. What has been so rewarding is working with so many diverse teams, bringing people together who might not otherwise in their day to day work – all for a common cause – to not only be better prepared both at home and at work for disasters but to be there for each other and our patients when an emergency or disaster occurs.
What is your proudest moment at PHSA?
I am so proud to be part of a creative, innovative program within PHSA where staff and volunteers are truly passionate about contributing to healthy resilient communities across B.C.
Why did you choose to work at PHSA? Why this job? Why this project?
I chose health care because I loved the idea of raising awareness of not only emergency preparedness but also of the invisible impacts disasters have on people. There continues to be a growing need for both elements and PHSA as an organization has created many opportunities for staff to get involved and be champions to help us move the work forward.
How has working at PHSA helped you develop professionally? Personally?
Over the years I have had many opportunities for taking courses and developing my skills in emergency management and I have greatly appreciated the flexibility to do that. From a personal perspective it has been so rewarding that both front line staff and leaders have been able to participate in education and training opportunities so they too are better able to manage all types of emergency events.
Tell us something that we may not realize about your job - a little known fact, something unexpected.
Because my work has always involved getting to know different people at all levels of the organization and building teams to manage incidents I developed some deep friendships with the BC Children's and BC Women's psychosocial lead, the facilities logistic lead and the HR Labour pool lead that continues today, 20 years later. In fact, since 2001, I walk every Saturday morning with my friend from HR. It’s terrific!
How do the PHSA values show up in your work?
Because our program provides psychosocial supports across the province I would say that both “respect people" and "be compassionate” drives the work we do as an office team and in the field. Each person (staff and volunteers alike) brings ideas and suggestions regarding program improvement that really help us deliver the best service we can to the people of B.C. impacted by both disaster events and the overdose crisis.
Congratulations, Jeanette, on this well-deserved award! Thank you for bringing something extra to work and to patients across B.C.