Meet Heather McDonald: Health Policy and Quality Officer, Health and Social Development Department

Why does Seabird Island Band need a Health Policy and Quality Officer?

Seabird Island Health is huge! With so many staff we need to have some structures in place to make sure we all know what we are supposed to be doing, and that we are providing a high quality service. My job is to create those structures. So I create policies and procedures, documents and processes, and tools for use by myself and others. This makes sure that the work of Health staff members is monitored, accountable, and optimal. A big part of my job is “other duties” that get assigned as the work is identified (like writing proposals and reports, meeting with other communities, etc).

What does a typical work day look like for you?

My days are varied. I also work from home. So, on those days I am oft en working on policies and procedures or grant applications for new programs that we want to run. When I’m here at Seabird, I am getting people together to talk (like at an infection control meeting or a research meeting), networking with staff I’m working with on a current project (like reviewing home care procedures or creating standards for mental health), and/or problem solving for the latest glitch that has arisen in a project, program, or procedure.

What is the most important task you perform?

My most important task is supporting Health staff so that they can be excellent in the work they do.

What challenges do you face performing your duties?

There is never enough time to do all that I want to do. I am involved in many programs and so I am oft en stretched pretty thin. Sometimes, staff are not too eager to change work habits and/or do the required paper work. Since almost all of my role is about change, this can be a challenge too.

What education/training do you have and how does it support your work?

I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years, in all sorts of roles. I’ve also put in many years at university (I have a PhD in Aboriginal peoples’ health). Combined, I’ve learned a lot about how to work with people. This is critical for my support role. I’ve also learned a lot about policies and procedures!!

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I’ve had a chance to work with Elders in the development of two new programs for Seabird: The Elders College and the Better at Home program. I cherish the time I had with Elders and I enjoy every moment I have with them now, soaking up their wisdom, stories and companionship. I also enjoy creating systems out of chaos. I like finding ways to help things run smoothly and effectively.

What’s your favourite part about the team you work with?

I admire the commitment and the expertise of the Health staff (and other Band staff ) whom I work with. It is a privilege to work with so many hard working people. I am also constantly inspired by my boss, Carolyne Neufeld. She is both visionary and compassionate.

What does Heather McDonald do when she is not at work (hobbies, activities, etc.)

I’m a mother, wife, sister, daughter; I have a big family. And, I’m on the mountain trails with my dogs every chance I get. I am most at peace when I am either on the mountain or at our wee cabin off the grid. When I am at home I am spending time with my family or working in my garden. These are the things that renew me so that I can harness my energies to attend to my work here at Seabird.

Thanks for your time Heather!