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Emergency Department

Season’s Greetings!

Once again, the holiday season is upon us. It’s a time for reflection, celebration, fellowship, worship and song.

Visiting with family and friends, either in-person or virtually in today’s day and age keeps us connected to the people we love and care about the most!

It’s a time to enjoy a festive meal, open cards and gifts and participate in holiday traditions. We all have our traditions, memories, moments of reflection and our spirit of giving. Putting up decorations, marvelling at the twinkling lights, reminiscing during the holiday meal, joyously singing along to hymns and festive songs…it’s such a special time of year!

Despite the challenges we have all endured with the worldwide COVID pandemic, along with the emerging increase in respiratory virus season, now, more than ever, is a time for understanding, caring, and optimism.

Within our facilities, if an ‘in-person’ visit isn’t possible, you can let patients and Personal Care Home residents know you are thinking of them by going to the PMH website and filling out the ‘well wishes’ information. By making this well wishes request, it will be delivered directly to the person on your behalf.

We take this moment to especially recognize our staff who have continued giving of themselves over the past year. They continue doing what they do best — providing quality care to the people we serve. We can’t say thank you enough! We know residents within our health region are extremely grateful for the dedication, commitment and compassion you bring to work with you every day!

On behalf of the Prairie Mountain Health Board, Management and Staff, we sincerely wish every one of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday! May your season be filled with love, happiness and cherished memories! And all the best in 2023!

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Two new Physician Assistants recruited to Swan River

Physician Assistants (PAs) are healthcare professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. They complement existing services and aid in improving patient access. Recently, National Physician Assistant (PA) day was recognized. Prairie Mountain Health also acknowledges and says “thank you” to its Physician Assistants who work in our region and are based in Brandon, Dauphin and Swan River. PMH continues recruiting for these professionals with the recent addition of two new Physician Assistants in Swan River. Even more exciting is that one of the new PAs, Charnae Betcher, a Swan River resident, is returning to her home community to work.

Charnae Betcher
Physician Assistant

Betcher graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) from the University of Manitoba (UM) in October. Based out of the department of family medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, the UM MPAS program has recently started its 15th year. Of the three PA programs in Canada, UM is the only one to offer the program at a master’s level. MPAS is a highly competitive program, with over 150 applicants vying for just 15 spots. Beginning in early December, Charnae will be located at the Swan Valley Primary Care Centre (SVPCC )as part of the My Health Team initiative.

“I am grateful to return to Swan River and serve the community where I grew up,” Betcher said.

“ I hope to contribute to enhancing local health care as a PA by working collaboratively to improve access to healthcare services, patient outcomes and quality of life.”

Fellow recruit James Awuah will be based at the Swan Valley Health Centre. Awuah, who started in mid-November, comes to the Region from South Dakota, USA. He currently lives in Regina, SK., with his family. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2018. He had been practicing emergency medicine and family medicine at critical access hospitals in North Dakota and South Dakota until he joined SVHC.

James Awuah
Physician Assistant

“I am very excited to be part of a team that continues to make a positive impact in the lives of community members,” Awuah stated.

“I am thrilled to continue to promote life and good health to the people I come across daily as a Physician Assistant. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Swan Valley Primary Care Centre physician Dr. Leah Koetting says health care is a team effort and Physician Assistants have a vital role.

“By working alongside physicians in hospital rounds, the clinic, and the emergency department, they ensure more patients are seen and treated in a timely manner.”

According to the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants, the introduction of PAs into the country began within the Canadian Armed Forces in the 1950s. Manitoba was the first province to introduce PAs into the healthcare system in 1999, and today, approximately 800 certified PAs are practicing in Canada—with over 500 in Ontario. As of December 2022, there will be 10 PAs practicing within PMH in Brandon, Dauphin and Swan River.

A Physician Assistant has the skills and experience to deal with medical emergencies, specialty practice environments, and everyday healthcare needs. The PA is a physician extender and not an independent practitioner; they work under the direction of supervising physicians within the client/patient-centered care team. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs can:

  • conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests.
  • counsel on preventive health care.
  • assist in surgery, and write prescriptions.
  • Participate in education, research and provide some administrative services.

In Brandon, some PAs assist in general and specialist surgery along with areas like kidney disease and the renal unit. In Dauphin, the two PAs undertake different responsibilities —one works within the surgery program and the other within primary care.

Prairie Mountain Health CEO Brian Schoonbaert says the region continues to look at ways to increase the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.

“PMH has hired more Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Assistants to expand primary care availability. We continue to meet with our stakeholders and partners to review challenges and discuss potential solutions to health human resource shortages that the rest of the province and country face now.”

Schoonbaert sincerely thanks all PMH staff for their continued efforts to provide patient care during this challenging period in the healthcare system. He adds the region remains committed to exhausting all available options to address these challenges.

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Caring for kids with Respiratory Viruses

As respiratory viruses, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), COVID-19 and influenza are on the rise across the province, a telephone townhall for parents and caregivers was held November 22nd. The town hall, featuring Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Dr. Elisabete Doyle, head of Pediatric Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, fielded questions about respiratory viruses and offered advice for kids care (prevention, managing symptoms at home, and when/where to seek care).

The medical experts provided other key messages including avoiding unneccesary trips to the hospital — except for emergency situations, what constitutes going to Emergency Departments if experiencing respiratory virus symptoms and options regarding medication —especially children’s medication given a shortage across the province and country during the last few weeks.

Other important messages referenced included people remaining at home when sick, staying up to date with vaccinations and wearing masks in public spaces.

Listen to the November 22 Telephone Townhall for parents and caregivers.

Advice during supply shortages of child medicine products.

KidCare – Where do I go with a sick or injured child? Discover helpful information provided by Shared Health about caring for sick or injured kids.

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Donations For PMH

Shannon Nickle, Neepawa Health Centre and Andy Ilagan, Theresa’s husband

Elite Intellicare Staffing

Neepawa Health Centre and Prairie Mountain Health are grateful for the generous donation of $10,000 from Elite Intellicare Staffing. The donation was given in memory of Theresa Ilagan who founded the company. She was a dedicated nurse and through her work she enjoyed coming to the Neepawa Health Centre and other health care facilities throughout Prairie Mountain Health. Theresa’s husband Andy said his wife was a woman of physical and inner beauty, with a heart filled with love and kindness for others. A woman who took great delight in helping people.

PMH along with the Neepawa Health Centre would once again like to thank Elite for the generous donation in her memory.

Lisa Derkach, Russell Cancer Care Unit Nurse accepts donation from local resident Greg Setter

Russell Cancer Care Unit Donation

Fundraising efforts continue for the Cancer Care Unit expansion at Russell Health Centre. Local resident Greg Setter was a successful applicant for a community grant, totaling $2,500 through a program sponsored by Bayer Crop Science Canada.

The Canada’s Farmers Grows Communities program, in association with Manitoba Agriculture in the Classroom, realizes the value of growing local communities. Accepting the cheque for the Expanding Community Cancer Program is Lisa Derkach, Russell Cancer Care Unit Nurse. Fundraising is continuing to pay for Unit furnishings and a new parking lot for the Centre. PMH sincerely thanks Mr. Setter and all who have contributed to the expansion project.

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Killarney Drums Alive: A Healthy Together Now Feature

Killarney recreation department got creative with Healthy Together Now (HTN) funds this past year to start Drums Alive programs in Killarney. It had been identified that the older adult population was not using the Shamrock Centre in Killarney’s programs as often as other groups. Therefore, using a collaborative community approach, recreation director April Archambault connected with the local Services for Seniors’ program to explore opportunities and barriers for participation. Drums Alive was identified as a great fit as there is already a certified instructor in the area and something the older adults were excited to try. Working together to support the needs of the senior population, they realized that transportation may be an issue for some older adults. Therefore, Services for Seniors offered transportation through the Handivan to the Drums Alive classes. Although this service didn’t end up being used, it was a great partnership to reduce transportation barriers for older adults wanting to participate in the Drums Alive program. A large and diverse group attended the Drums Alive sessions with lots of enthusiasm! In addition, the equipment was used with youth at summer daycamp programs through a partnership with Killarney Turtle Mountain Arts Council. Drums Alive connects music, fitness, mental and cognitive health and having this opportunity in the community adds to the health and vibrancy of the community. This is a great Healthy Together Now project showcasing community groups working together to offer accessible programming for all ability levels.

Healthy Together Now (HTN) is a government supported program coordinated by the health promotion team in PMH. Community Healthy Together Now (HTN) funding is available 4 times per year in PMH. Community groups or organizations can apply for funding for projects that support community-led health promotion activities that focus on one or more of healthy eating, increasing physical activity, supporting mental well-being or tobacco/vaping reduction. The next grant intake deadline is February 1, 2023. Please visit our website for more information.

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Support the Brandon Regional Health Centre Foundation This Holiday Season

It is a busy time of year for the Brandon Regional Health Centre (BRHC) Foundation. Their 29th Annual “Tree of Lights” fundraiser will run through December and is a wonderful and heartfelt way to remember and memorialize a loved one or to honour someone special.

With your donation, a personalized tree tag will be hung on the “Tribute Trees” in the BRHC’s atrium. Your tribute gift will also help light up the evergreens in the traffic loop at BRHC. This year there are two gift options under the tree that you can choose from to put your donation towards:

  • Gift #1 – Family room furniture for the Maternity Unit ($10,000)
  • Gift #2 – Blood pressure machines for 400 Medicine X3 ($16,800)

With a minimum donation of $15, you will receive a tax receipt.

In addition to the Tree of Lights, the “Holiday Around the World” WestJet raffle also takes place in December! Win a trip for 2 people to any scheduled WestJet destination. The draw takes place on Friday, December 16, at 2 pm. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go to BRHC’s Pediatric/Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Tickets are 3/$20 or 1/$10 and are still available!

For more information or to donate or purchase a ticket, please visit the BRHC Foundation website, call 204-578-4227, email: [email protected] or visit the BRHC Foundation office on the main floor of the Brandon Regional Health Centre at 150 McTavish Ave E.

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Brandon Regional Health Centre Gift Shop is Open for Business this Holiday Season

The Gift Shop at Brandon Regional Health Centre (BRHC) has a wonderful selection of gift ideas for this holiday season.

Stop by the shop located off the Main Atrium next to Tim Hortons.

Gift Shop hours:

  • Monday – Thursday | 10 am to 5 pm
  • Friday | 11 am to 3 pm
  • Saturday | Noon to 3 pm

Please note these hours are subject to change due to volunteer availability.

If you are making a special trip in, call the gift shop at 204-578-4058 to ensure they are open.

You can also enjoy a virtual shopping experience and have your gift delivered to a patient.

Call Volunteer Services at 204-578-2065 Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 am to 2 pm, and they will do the shopping for you. These purchases must be paid by Mastercard, Visa or American Express.

Check out some of our selection, and thank you for supporting the BRHC Gift Shop!

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Assiniboine acknowledges rural rotating Practical Nursing site in Virden

Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) joined health partners and stakeholders in early November to celebrate Assiniboine Community College’s opening of a rural rotating Practical Nursing site in Virden. The Virden site welcomed nursing students in early September. Assiniboine’s expansion of its Practical Nursing program in both permanent and rural rotating sites will allow more students to become certified in this high-demand health-care occupation

PMH Recruitment Supervisor Larissa Kominko

“Assiniboine continues to be responsive to Manitoba’s labour market and support economic growth by meeting community needs. Our rural rotating Practical Nursing sites answer the call on both of these priorities, and it is a pleasure to celebrate a new site in Virden,” stated Mark Frison, Assiniboine President.

PMH Recruitment Supervisor Larissa Kominko spoke on behalf of CEO Brian Schoonbaert.

“Our collaborative partnership with Assiniboine continues to provide excellent opportunities for individuals to enter the health-care field closer to home. We are very pleased to see the Practical Nursing site in Virden and look forward to connecting with participants closer to graduation during the 2023-2024 academic year.”

“We would like to thank ACC Leadership, instructors and preceptors that make this training possible. We also wish to thank the community of Virden for its commitment in providing the necessary supports that went into securing this initiative,” Kominko stated.

Practical Nursing is the largest single program of study at Assiniboine, with 100 per cent of graduates surveyed reporting they had jobs. Since 1975, more than 4,200 individuals have graduated from nursing programs offered by the college.

In addition to rural rotating sites, the college has permanent Practical Nursing programs at its campuses in Brandon, Dauphin, Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie.

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Craving culturally relevant food

By Lindsey Enns

Have you ever wondered why some foods give you energy while others make you crash? If you’ve ever been curious about the science behind nutrition, or what foods you should be eating to feel your best both mentally and physically, consider consulting a registered dietitian.

“We’re not the food police so we’re really trying to correct that misconception about our role,” says Chantal Morais, a registered dietitian in Prairie Mountain Health. “Dietitians work across the health system, providing nutrition advice and recommendations in a variety of settings ranging from health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases to personal care homes and critical care units.”

Dietitian have long been important members of health-care teams working across Manitoba, but the importance of their role was heightened during the pandemic with the need for appropriate nutrition and hydration policies in all settings.

“We know that a good baseline nutrition and being well-nourished can help keep people out of hospital, or if they are admitted for care, it’s for a shorter time,” Morais says. “When someone is malnourished, they are at higher risk of being readmitted to hospital, so our work in supporting patients to develop the knowledge and tools to stay nourished decreases recovery time and chances of readmission.”

For Morais, each work day is a little different. As a dietitian working in health promotion, she works with community groups and organizations to promote healthy eating with a special focus on nutrition, food skills education and healthy food environments. With the cost of food on the rise, food security is top of mind for many groups and organizations that Morais works with.

“Because we work with diverse groups of people and communities, we need to be caring, compassionate and aware of social justice and the right to food security,” adds Morais, who also leads various sessions for First Nations communities and health-care providers, and facilitates regional programs including Strive to Thrive and Craving Change. “People are looking for ideas for foods that are culturally relevant to them and are nourishing to their mind, body and spirit within their current budget. We can help with that.”

Passionate about her work and her profession, Morais gets excited when talking about bringing communities and community partners together to improve and support the health and well-being of a community.

“Working with various public health nurses and getting to visit different communities, there’s a lot of variety of work that I get to do,” Morais says. “Seeing communities come together to develop wellness activities and keeping that momentum going in that community is what makes my job worthwhile. Supporting the health and well-being of a community is so rewarding.”

Morais comes by her commitment to community and her passion for food and nutrition naturally. Her family operates a small cattle farm located between Hamiota and Virden, and while she doesn’t refer to herself as a farmer, she credits living on a farm with giving her an appreciation of the role of agriculture and its importance to the culture of rural communities.

“Having an understanding of agriculture, the largest industry in southwestern Manitoba, helps me better relate to the communities and people I work with on a daily basis,” Morais says.

Chantal Morais (centre and wearing a striped shirt) stands in the Neepawa Arts Forward kitchen with Immigrant Settlement Services’ Cooking in Canada program preparing for a meal with newcomers.

Morais has worked in rural Manitoba since completing her studies at the University of Manitoba. She worked first in Virden alongside a clinical team and then, after completing a master’s in public health, transitioned to her current role supporting health promotion in Hamiota and surrounding area.

“There are lots of opportunities and so much you can do as a dietitian,” Morais says. “Working rurally, I’m part of a really great interprofessional team and a great team of dietitians. I know rural jobs can be a bit lonely, especially if you are the only dietitian at a particular site, but there’s a whole team to stay connected with and always somebody that you can consult with. There’s always support here.”

Allied health providers like dietitians work in every community, across the full continuum of care needs and across the entire lifespan of the patients they serve.

“Our allied health providers are always there,” Morais says. “We’re often working behind the scenes in hospital, long-term care facilities, primary care facilities and in prevention. If you’re interested in nutrition, there’s so much opportunity to grow and mould your practice to align with your interests and what you’re passionate about.”

From Nov. 6 to 12, Manitoba’s health service delivery organizations are celebrating the diverse and highly specialized skills of our province’s allied health professionals. Representing nearly 200 disciplines working in every sector and area of our health system, allied health professionals are vital members of our health-care teams.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe submitted by Kristen Yakimishen, RD Clinical Dietitian

I saw this recipe in the Metro newspaper (Winnipeg), 10 years ago and have been making it since. I saw this recipe in the Metro newspaper (Winnipeg), 10 years ago and have been making it since. Time needed: at least 45 minutes to roast and 20 minutes to simmer, plus prep time. This recipe usually takes me about 1½ – 2 hours to create.

You will need

  • 1 large butternut squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 4 red peppers, cut into halves, seeds removed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (and more for garnish if desired), leave whole, cut stem scar out
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1½ tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
  • Heart healthy oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Sour cream (for garnish)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Arrange squash on a large, oil-greased baking pan with cut sides down.
  3. Arrange the peppers and tomato on an oil-greased baking pan with cut sides down (can stack peppers if short on room).
  4. Roast all vegetables in oven at 400ºF for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender (soft enough to be easily scooped out with a spoon). When cool enough to handle, scrape the squash flesh from the rind and cut the red pepper into chunks.
  5. Meanwhile coarsely chop onions and mince garlic.
  6. In a large pot, using just enough oil, cook the onions, garlic, sage, and hot pepper flakes on medium-low heat until the onions are very soft (this takes 10-15 minutes). Stir often.
  7. Add the broth, squash, red peppers, and tomatoes.
  8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes for flavours to blend. Stir often.
  9. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or regular blender. Regular blenders or plastic immersion blenders may require the soup to cool first.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, diced tomato, parsley, etc.
  12. Freezes well, but best re-heated on the stove

Facts about butternut squash

  • This type of squash grows fine in our region.
  • Butternut squash is high in potassium, Vitamin C, and very high in Beta-carotene (made into Vitamin A in the body).
  • Butternut squash can also be made into chili or pasta sauce.
  • In Australia, squash is a staple, and it was cubed and roasted— great as a side, or on top of pizza, or pasta.
  • Butternut squash pairs very nicely with sage.
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