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Patients in Ashern’s Lakeshore General Hospital now have cheery artwork to look at in their rooms thanks to students from Ashern’s Central School.

At the end of June, groups of middle years students painted large four-foot by eight-foot pieces of plywood with fun bright scenes for the rooms impacted by the construction of the new addition. The construction project is expanding the emergency department with additional treatment space and increasing the number of inpatient beds.

Ashern Lakeshore General Hospital Guild chair Shelley Bjornson heard during a planning meeting about the opportunity to provide some murals for the patient rooms and immediately thought of the middle years students at Ashern Central School where she substitute teaches. She talked to Grade 5/6 teacher Shannon Kosolowski and they were able to organize it as an end-of-year school project for the middle years students to do in groups of three or four.

“To kick off the project, we met with each group individually and told them about the project and the goal was to make something that would make someone feel happy. We discussed the importance of simplicity. They did a little research on hospital murals and, as soon as they had inspiration, they sketched rough design and went to the woodshop space and sketched it out and created final project,” Kosolowski said. “The educational assistant worked hard to support the students on this project too. The best part is that many live near the hospital or know family that do, so they were so proud and excited to tell their aunts, uncles, grandparents about what they did at school for the local hospital.”

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority CEO Marion Ellis thanked everyone for their involvement.

“Thank you to Shelley and everyone at Ashern Central School for going out of their way to provide the patients in the hospital with warm, uplifting murals for their rooms while we undergo construction,” Ellis said. “We’ve heard from patients that the artwork is appreciated.”

The plywood murals were placed in the windows of existing patients’ rooms in Ashern’s Lakeshore General Hospital, where they are expected to remain during the duration of the construction project, that’s expected to be completed by fall 2024.

At the end of June, groups of middle years students including Lily DeFoort, Keara Buenafe and Danni Vanderveen painted large four-foot by eight-foot pieces of plywood with bright scenes for the rooms impacted by the construction of the new addition at Lakeshore General Hospital.

Construction is well underway on the expansion of Selkirk Regional Health Centre. Thirty acute care inpatient beds and three emergency department treatment spaces are being added, enhancing the health centre’s ability to treat and monitor patients. The new beds will allow care to be delivered locally for an increased number of inpatients and a higher volume of surgical and endoscopy patients.

The health centre’s emergency department remains open during the redevelopment of the waiting room. Patients entering the emergency department will notice the construction but accessing registration and triage will remain the same. There will be signage and people on site to help direct patients.

From August 8 to 11, patients attending the emergency department will be directed to use a door to the side of usual entrance.

Once the waiting room renovations are complete, construction will begin on three new treatment spaces in the emergency department. When work concludes, Selkirk Regional Health Centre’s emergency department will offer greater patient privacy and better sight lines for staff who monitor patients and the waiting area. Work is expected to conclude by March 2024.

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IERHA CEO Marion Ellis attended an announcement by Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston about new personal care homes in Arborg, Stonewall, Lac du Bonnet and Oakbank in addition to two in Winnipeg. These beds mark a 50 per cent increase to our personal care home beds total for the region. As well a new community supportive living pilot was announced for highly specialized care for seniors with complex mental health or behavioral needs to have a safe, supportive environment. Read more here news release.

A Peguis First Nation family tells their story of cancer care support to Terra Indigena newspaper

On Wednesday, June 16, 2023,Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority’s spiritual health coordinator, Ferdinand Funk presented 10 people with their Spirit of Caring volunteer education resource certification of completion.  As graduates, the students are eligible to volunteer with the region’s spiritual health program, providing spiritual health services to patients and residents of personal care homes under Funk’s supervision.  

At the graduation ceremony held in the Spiritual Health Centre of Selkirk Regional Health Centre, Funk said the graduates geographically represented eight communities in the region.

“Graduating here today we have people from across the region,” says Funk. “These people are the lifeblood of the spiritual care program in the region.”

Under the guidance of the spiritual health coordinator, Interlake-Eastern RHA’s spiritual health care services are provided by spiritual health volunteers who are trained to provide compassionate, non-denominational care and support upon the request of patients and their families. Spiritual health care practitioners provide support and services that can include:

  • Spiritually attentive listening with an open mind
  • Paying attention and responding to experiences of suffering
  • Companionship through life’s changes and decisions
  • Faciliating connections to clients’ religious, spiritual or cultural communities
  • Arranging ceremonies, sacraments, rites of people’s choosing
  • Increasing self-awareness and building inner strengths
  • Kindness, compassion and respect from another human being
  • Holistic care based on hope, spiritual diversity, inclusivity
  • Honoring the mystery of everyday life

Graduate, Wilbert Reimer from Arborg shares that he heard about the Spirit of Caring Course through his local church.

“I thought I could be a listening ear for patients and applied. Throughout the course, I learned a lot about suffering and spirituality. All of the sharing was so helpful – there was a lot of wisdom too,” says the father of five originally from Belize, “I have a deeper understanding and aim to make a difference in more lives.”

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority recognizes that spiritual health is an important part of holistic health care that must be considered when exploring patient illness. Taking the time to nurture relationships and recognizing the importance of spirituality in health care is an essential part of providing care to patients as a whole.

For more information on spiritual health care services in our region, visit and click on About Us and Volunteer Opportunities.

This year, 20 medical students attended Rural Week in eight communities in the Interlake-Eastern area.

During Rural Week, first-year medical students are hosted by communities and given the opportunity to shadow physicians, nurse practitioners and other care providers during their regular workday in local health clinics. 

In an effort to provide medical students with exposure to the practice diversity found in rural settings, students shadowed hospital and primary health care staff in Arborg, Teulon, Stonewall, Gimli, Oak Bank, Beausejour, Pine Falls and Pinawa. 

On top of clinic time, the week also includes a host of activities organized by community volunteers to give students an understanding of what it’s like to live and work in rural communities. Medical students in Arborg did pickleball, a heritage village tour and fishing. In Gimli, students did a cruise of Lake Winnipeg and enjoyed an outdoor barbecue with bonfire.

David Oakley, chair of the Teulon Health Care Foundation and visit co-ordinator in Teulon, said the students in Teulon enjoyed a barbecue, golfing and a tour of a local colony.

“It is such a pleasure to host students as they are so engaging and open to partaking in many new experiences. Every event seems to be well received and there is a lot of dialogue between the students, our foundation team and community members,” Oakley said. “Without question, their favourite part was climbing aboard a 500 HP John Deere tractor at the colony. Each student was able to sit in the driver’s seat, hear the roar of the engine and turn the gigantic wheels effortlessly.”

On top of clinic and hospital time at Selkirk Regional Health Centre, the week also includes a host of activities organized by community volunteers to give students an understanding of what it’s like to live and work in rural communities.

Shirley Muir, visit co-ordinator for Selkirk, hosted a small barbecue at her historical home in Selkirk. Merrilee Mollard, visit coordinator for Selkirk as well also hosted a separate barbecue at her cottage in Whytewold.

“I think we all know that future doctors have lots of options, and we just wanted them to see that Selkirk is the best of both worlds— but, most important, a welcoming and inclusive community,” Muir said. “Several young adults who attended shared why they’ve made Selkirk their home and why they grow their businesses in Selkirk. Some said they liked that Selkirk was large enough to have all the amenities for them and for raising a family. Others said they loved that Selkirk has lakes, forests, beaches and provincial parks right in its backyard.”

Students also did hang gliding and visited a bee farm in Beausejour.

Rural Week, as part of the University of Manitoba medical curriculum, first started in 2004.

It’s an initiative co-ordinated by Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority in collaboration with the department of family medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine and the Manitoba HealthCare Providers Network. 

“Interlake-Eastern thanks each of the visit co-ordinators, doctors, nurses and staff, as well as the welcoming citizens of our region who made Rural Week 2023 such a success,” said Pamela Robertson, physician recruiter. “We can’t wait to do it again next year..”

For more information on career opportunities with Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, please visit

To see photos of the events, visit 2023 Rural Week Photos.

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