Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 15, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Providence Health Care was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2021):
- Providence Health Care maintains progressive time off policies that allow employees to take time for themselves, offering four weeks of starting vacation allowance, up to five paid personal days for most employees, and up to 18 paid sick days annually
- Providence Health Care offers a number of resources and internal programming to support positive mental health including self-care strategies, an annual health and wellness fair, activities during Mental Health Week in May, a video library on a range of health and wellness topics, and an internal mental health and wellness toolkit
- Providence Health Care helps employees ease into their retirement years with phased-in work options -- and helps all employees plan ahead with retirement planning assistance and contributions to a defined benefit pension plan
Providence’s people care for others with compassion
Before completing nursing school in October 2019, Julia Pavlova did her final three-month practical rotation at St. Paul’s Hospital, part of Vancouver-based Providence Health Care. When she joined the medicine nursing team there after graduation, she had no idea that five months later she’d volunteer to work in a new unit created for COVID-19 patients.
“Our people run toward a crisis and danger, not away from it,” says Christopher De Bono, vice president of mission, people and ethics. “COVID-19 reminds us – once again – of who we are as an organization and why we care. People come to Providence for the fit – it’s a sense of calling rather than a job.”
That’s certainly true for Pavlova. The 39-year-old mother of two daughters left a customer-service career for nursing after volunteering as an emergency room greeter at St. Paul’s. “I’m doing what I love, I’m learning every day and I’m making a difference,” she says. “I’m not related by blood to the other nurses or the rest of the medical team, but we’re united by common goals of caring, compassion and respect.”
Providence Health Care is one of the largest Catholic health care providers in Canada, operating 17 sites across British Columbia and often serving society’s most vulnerable. “We serve people from every walk of life, and we have a unique culture of hospitable, non-judgmental care,” says De Bono.
A clinical bioethicist, De Bono left Ontario to join Providence because it’s one of only two healthcare organizations in Canada with a vice president in ethics and mission on the senior leadership team. “The mission of quality care rooted in compassion and social justice appealed to me,” he says. “It’s our secret sauce, and our staff understands our mission – we’re caring people, and we hire amazing, caring people.”
Another draw was the focus on advancing research in such vital areas as HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 drug trials. “We do change the world in some of the research we do,” says De Bono. “Our researchers are committed to targeting local and global needs and advancing the science that matters.”
Pavlova feels privileged to be part of such important work at an organization that puts people first in every way. “As a nurse, when you practise in a place where you feel safe, accepted and respected, you can reflect those values back onto your patients,” she says. “I’m lucky to work in such a supportive environment.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
By Kristina Leung, Stephanie Leung, and Jing Wang, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 18, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Providence Health Care was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
- Providence Health Care offers an employed student nurse program for registered nurse and registered practical nurse students -- the program allows students to consolidate the knowledge and skills learned in school while gaining increased exposure to the clinical setting -- additionally, a dedicated educator provides orientation and mentorship throughout the duration of the program
- Providence Health Care's Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital provides training opportunities for a range of young people, including undergraduate students in co-op programs, a summer student research program (provides first-time exposure to a science lab with presentations of original work at the end-of-summer Student Research Day), graduate training at UBC, post-doctoral training and a visiting scientists program
Providence encourages every voice to be heard
Between the ages of eight and 12, Paige Lougheed struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. So when she was job-hunting as a young adult, a posting for a youth peer support worker in a mental health program at Vancouver-based Providence Health Care caught her eye.
“I wanted to get into peer support because when I was young and having mental health issues, I didn’t have a peer who Providence encourages every voice to be heard understood what I was going through,” says Lougheed. “I really like talking to young people and being a role model.”
Providence is one of the largest faithbased healthcare providers in Canada, operating 17 sites across British Columbia and often serving society’s most vulnerable, including youth. Twenty-five-year-old Lougheed, who previously worked in student housing at a university, joined Providence in April 2020. Through an initiative called Foundry BC, she delivers phone, video and text support to British Columbians between the ages 12 and 24.
“At Providence, we break down barriers for young people who are dealing with a range of mental health issues – anxiety, depression, loneliness, substance use,” says Lougheed. “I’m always amazed at how resilient they are.”
She is also amazed at how her co-workers come together to provide the very best support and care. “Providence is one of the most collaborative places I’ve ever worked,” she says. “I feel like I’m equal to the counsellors, and that my input is really valued.”
Due to COVID-19, Lougheed is working from home and looks forward to meeting her colleagues in person as soon as it’s safe to do so. Yet she still feels very much part of a cohesive team. “Because we’re all working together to serve young people, we all feel connected to each other,” she says.
Providence’s senior leaders recognize that many millennials are looking for more than just a job. “This generation of young people wants to be part of something with meaning – and that speaks to our values and mission of caring with compassion and respect,” says president and CEO Fiona Dalton.
Being a fairly small health organization comes with career-growth advantages. “There’s less of a hierarchy based on power or how long you’ve worked here,” says Dalton. “That means we have more nimbleness and flexibility for people to move up more quickly.”
Informal mentorship is part of the growth strategy. Senior leaders also try to create an environment where every voice is heard by encouraging all employees to think about, and then to suggest, what could be different and better for every service. They want to hear from everyone from nurses and doctors to staff in longterm care facilities to members of the finance and communications teams.
Providence is proud of how it cares for not only its patients but its people. “We’re like a family, and we look after each other,” says Dalton. “Everyone appreciates that, but I think especially young people.”
In spring 2021, Providence is expected to break ground for the construction of a new, expanded St. Paul’s Hospital and health campus in Vancouver. “Right now we can’t compete with employers with nice gyms and social spaces, but our new build will result in a state-of-the-art, globally renowned and patient-centred care, research and teaching facility,” says Dalton. “We can promise that if you work here, you’ll be part of some really cool projects that can change the world.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Providence Health Care was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2021):
- Providence Health Care established an All Nations Sacred Space at St. Paul's Hospital that can accommodate smudging ceremonies, drumming circles, unification ceremonies, talking circles and feasts -- additionally, the organization employs an Indigenous nurse practice leader, who helps provide a blended model of education, care and facilitation
- As part of Providence Health Care's commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, the organization created an Indigenous wellness and reconciliation department to ensure that Indigenous initiatives are Indigenous-led and Indigenous informed, and a separate working group comprised of self-identified Indigenous staff
Providence wants all voices to be heard and valued
Natasha Simonss, an occupational health adviser at Vancouver-based Providence Health Care, is Métis and has Indigenous friends. But when she took the organization’s Indigenous cultural-safety training, she was surprised by how much she had to learn.
“I thought I had understood residential schools and colonization, but I didn’t know how bad things truly were,” says Simonss. “The training was humbling and eye-opening. It’s important to have that information when we’re providing care to our Indigenous vulnerable population, and also when we’re interacting with our Indigenous co-workers.”
Providence Health Care is one of the largest faith-based healthcare providers in Canada, operating 17 sites across British Columbia and often serving groups in society that are hardly reached and under-served. Simonss joined the organization in 2008 as a human resources receptionist before being promoted several times within the department. In her current role, she supports employees who are off work due to illness or injury or struggling with mental health issues at work.
Simonss, who is also of South Asian and Norwegian heritage, identifies as a woman of colour and is married to a Black man with whom she has two children. “Providence is doing important work around diversity and inclusion that really hits home for me,” she says. “We strive to provide safe, quality care in a way that shows respect for culture and identity.”
The senior leadership team is determined to do the challenging but important work of effecting change. President and CEO Fiona Dalton points to the value of a recent report called In Plain Sight, which addresses Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in British Columbia healthcare. “It highlights how much more work we have to do in order to properly look after our most vulnerable patients,” she says.
Within the next year, every employee will have been trained in Indigenous culture safety, and a mentor scheme for researchers and physicians will be developed. “The anti-racism events around the world last year really pushed us to discuss how we’re going to formalize a strategic plan that will support our Indigenous employees and patients,” says Dalton.
Simonss is excited to be doing her part as the spokesperson appointed to bridge communication between the anti-racism and equity advisory committee and the Indigenous wellness and reconciliation committee. Their goal is to ensure that the voices of Providence’s Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour are heard throughout the organization.
Although she feels fortunate and privileged not to have experienced “anything egregious” personally, Simonss has supported an employee who felt discriminated against because of their cultural background. “As a result, this individual was struggling at work,” she says.
Simonss is encouraged by the senior leadership team’s prompt response to 'In Plain Sight'. Her hope is that as an organization, PHC colleagues can educate and support each other.
“I want to help establish safe and effective processes for racism to be reported and investigated here,” says Simonss. “Both intentional and unintentional racism have harmful effects. I’m motivated to carry out this important work with my colleagues to ensure a future that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion.”