Former Paralympian, Jennifer Krempien is helping shape the future of Allied Health Professional Services in the Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Children's Hospital.
Jennifer Krempien’s experience with the pediatric health-care system started early. Her most poignant memory was of being admitted to the hospital as a 5-year old, and having to spend the first night alone because her parents were forced to leave, as there was nowhere for them to stay in the room.
“I remember them walking away from me and embracing by the door. I was so upset when they left. That memory has always stuck with me,” Jennifer recalls.
Following that night, she went on to spend a number of months in acute care and rehabilitation at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Alberta, and had a series of follow-up surgeries and treatments over the years.
However, her experiences within the health-care system, both good and bad, have helped shape her career path. After attaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Alberta, she packed up and headed west to escape the snow, even though she did not have a job lined up. A very serendipitous call came through as she drove through the Rockies – a job offer from BC Children’s Hospital – where she went on to spend the next 15 years of her career.
While working as a registered dietitian, Jennifer was also an integral part of the national wheelchair basketball team for 18 years, winning multiple Paralympic and world championships. She was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Canadian Paralympic Committee Hall of Fame in 2013. In addition to her athletic achievements, she also received her Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of British Columbia in 2010.
As part of the C&W Redevelopment Team, Jennifer is now responsible for supporting the integration of Allied Health Professional Services within the clinical program areas for the transition to the new Teck Acute Care Centre (Teck ACC).
When asked about what feature is most exciting about the new Teck ACC at BC Children’s Hospital, it is only natural that she mentions the private single-patient rooms which will have space for a family member or support person to stay. From her own personal experience, and her observations over the years, she knows that having the comfort of a family member present will make an indelible difference to a child being admitted to the hospital.
Reflecting on fond childhood memories of the garden at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Jennifer is also looking forward to the outdoor spaces that will be available for patients and families at the new Teck ACC. The gardens will offer an escape from the clinical environment of the hospital and will be a place for children to explore and enjoy.
The Teck ACC is scheduled to open in fall 2017 and will include eight floors of clinical space. It will have 231 single-patient rooms, each with space for family members to stay, as well as 87 outpatient exam rooms. The Teck ACC will feature healing gardens, a walkable labyrinth, active play spaces, and a Wellness Walkway as part of the integrated landscape design.
The Teck ACC will replace aging infrastructure and provide much-needed space for the larger care teams and new technologies required to treat today’s chronic and more complex illnesses. It will be an integral part of British Columbia’s health-care system, providing exceptional specialized care for the most seriously ill children and complex obstetrical cases in BC.