Former Wrinch Memorial Hospital advisory committee chairperson Alf Brady and United Church Health Services Society (UCHSS) chairperson Rev. Michael Hare celebrate 115 years of service by UCHSS

Wrinch hospital transfer marks end of an era for United Church

Past and present Wrinch Memorial Hospital staff shared fond memories at an event held when it changed hands in March.

Snippets of the Wrinch Memorial Hospital’s 115-year history came to life on March 31, when past and present staff shared fond memories to mark the end of the United Church Health Services Society’s (UCHSS) long history in the Hazeltons.

Northern Health, which already co-managed the hospital, took over management from the United Church Health Services Society on April 1.

UCHSS announced last September it was handing over the facility because it could not longer afford to run it.

Health workers, senior Northern Health staff, UCHSS board members and volunteers from the outgoing Wrinch advisory committee were among those who gathered in Hazelton to recognize the society’s contribution to local health care.

Hazelton Mayor Alice Maitland, New Hazelton Mayor Gail Lowry and Gitxsan chief Gyatim Galdo’o were also at the event.

A holistic approach

UCHSS chairperson Rev. Michael Hare, United Church of Canada B.C. conference president Rev. Keith Simmonds and executive secretary Rev. Doug Goodwin were among those who addressed the crowd. Rev. Hare, who was born in Hazelton, said one of Wrinch hospital team’s assets was that it knew health care was not just about treating physical symptoms.

“It involves the care of a whole person: physical, spiritual, emotional,” he said.

“In the history of medicine in this province, this story will be told of the leadership provided by folks from this hospital in the development of family practice as a specialty, and the training of residents in remote and isolated communities.”

Outgoing medical director Dr. Peter Newbery, who is retiring with the transfer, and long-time Wrinch physician Dr. Phil Muir performed a skit explaining how Dr. Horace Wrinch founded the hospital.

Dr. Newbery, performing as “Peter Mansbury,” interviewed Dr. Muir, who played Dr. Wrinch, about his vision for the future of health care in the Hazeltons.

Past and present staff then shared humorous anecdotes about the former hospital building, including stories about an unreliable elevator and pranks using the dumbwaiter.

The hospital’s advisory board, hospital auxiliary, community partners, staff and physicians were also recognized at the event.

Northern Health northwest chief operating officer Penny Anguish praised UCHSS for its collaborative approach to the transition.

“There’s lots to figure out yet but we feel like we have established a really good relationship with the staff, that we will figure it out together as things arise,” she said.

The end of an era

UCHSS plans to sell the hospital pharmacy, while the dental clinic will be taken over by Northern Health.

The transition marks the end of an era for the UCHSS, which also had hospitals in Bella Bella and Bella Coola until Vancouver Coastal Health took over in 2003.

UCHSS governing board member Wendy Bily said the church was ready to step away from its former role as a health care provider.

“I think there is a sense of ‘it’s time,’ given the cultural context of the province and government care for health,” she said.

“I think there is some grief about that because it’s been an important part of how the church has seen its mission in ministry from way, way back.”

She said the church was now in discussions about how to redirect its focus.

UCHSS chief executive Mary Jean Morrison said the hospital had always been driven by people who care about their work.

“I feel that there is that wonderful root, from Dr. Wrinch onward, of people being really committed to doing their job and doing it well and I think that will continue,” she said.

“I also know that out of this extended family you have an advocacy group so if they feel that things need to change, improve or do something, they’ll be right there to make sure.”

 

 

Just Posted

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Gitxsan unable to repeat at All-Native Basketball Tournament

Gitxsan women come away from Prince Rupert with third place. Men downed in semi-final.

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals push Canada into second place

A gold in ski cross and a bronze in bobsleigh as men’s hockey advances to the semis

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Canadians capture bronze in women’s bobsled event

Canadians Humphries, George take bronze in women’s bobsled event at Olympics

Most Read