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Annual General Meeting held virtually for first time

Participants hear about fiscal year that ended with start of COVID-19 pandemic

Interlake-Eastern RHA’s first virtual Annual General Meeting on October 5, 2020 saw 80 participants connect by phone or online to hear a summary of activities over the past fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. With the new format, participants were able to submit questions to speakers that could be answered in real time.

Glen West, Interlake-Eastern RHA’s board chair, said that some participants had troubles logging in, and he apologizes on behalf of the region for difficulties anyone had. But after that, it was smooth sailing and a survey of participants found that the new format was appreciated. Retaining a virtual presence will be worth exploring for future meetings.

“It is always a pleasure to share about the initiatives in our region, to step back and really see the positive impact on people and their families thanks to the efforts of staff, volunteers, and partners,” said West. “Thank you to Ruth Ann Furgala, second vice-chair of the Board, for emceeing our AGM, David Oakley, treasurer of the Board, for delivering the finance report, and all other board members who participated.”

Interlake-Eastern RHA CEO Ron Van Denakker presents the CEO Award for Community Leadership to the Primary Care Development Group, accepted by Blair Skinner, Mayor of Pinawa and chair of the group.


At the meeting, West outlined continued efforts and initiatives under Interlake-Eastern RHA’s points of strategic focus in the areas of health system sustainability, improved access to care, person-focused care, decreasing preventable harm, improved access to mental health resources, and partnerships with Indigenous communities.

For outgoing CEO of Interlake-Eastern RHA, Ron Van Denakker, who retires on October 15, the care of Indigenous communities has been of particular importance. Attendees at last year’s AGM listened to people sharing first-hand accounts of their experiences with the health system, including Gwen Traverse, health director of Pinaymootang First Nation.

“Gwen takes advantage of the question and answer period every year to hold me and the RHA accountable for our care of Indigenous people,” says Van Denakker. “It was troubling to me as CEO to hear those stories and I thank those who had the courage to stand before strangers and share very personal stories about their health care. As CEO, I promised then that we’d do better. And I know that, while there is still a ways to go, together we have made progress in helping all residents access the care they deserve, closer to home.”

Traverse and the leadership of her First Nations community marked their thanks for Van Denakker’s efforts by bestowing a parting gift of commissioned artwork to him, acknowledging his work over more than nine years as CEO.

Acting CEO Ron Janzen similarly had praise for Van Denakker. “As CEO, Ron has shown that he works well with people and communities, and actively listens to their concerns. He’s been able to build strong relationships with the public, community leaders, and his staff. It’s a tremendous foundation for our RHA to work from.”

At the AGM, the annual Chair’s Awards for Excellence in Customer Service was awarded to staff who consistently went above and beyond in their interactions with patients and other staff. Eleven staff members were nominated this year and four of these stood out to the chair.

Pharmacist Brad Clyde was honoured for stepping up to problem-solve to ensure that patients receive the care they need, with humour and a great attitude. Robin Malcolm, an HR assistant, won for her efficiency, positive manner, and mentorship on her team. Pamela Robertson, an administrative assistant with the RHA’s physician services team, won for her personal and professional approach in staffing of the region’s emergency departments with physicians. Kim Scharf, facility administration at Gimli Community Health Centre, was recognized for the way she greets all visitors and patients with a friendly smile – helping people feel comfortable, often during difficult times.

“The fact that we had 11 nominees for these awards shows that our staff really understand the importance of taking care of people,” said Janzen. “This is at the heart of everything we do.”

This year’s CEO Award for Community Leadership went to the individuals representing communities from around the region who comprise the Primary Care Development Group. This group and the partnerships it represents provide Interlake-Eastern RHA with access to leadership perspectives and expertise that enhances vision and plans for the region with community insight.

Interlake-Eastern RHA’s work is guided by a strategic plan that dovetails with the priorities of Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living.

“With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, delivery of some health care services have changed, said West. “But what has not changed is the goal of providing fully comprehensive, integrated and accessible health care services for all residents in the Interlake-Eastern region.”

A video recording of the AGM and other meeting materials can be found on our website at

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