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Family ties in the Coastal community of care


OR nurses Regie & Jap Salonga

​In honour of Family Day this weekend, we spoke with some family members who each work in the Coastal Community of Care (CoC).  This week, we’re profiling couples who work at the same VCH location.

Regina & Japheth Salonga 

Regina (Regie) and Japheth (Jap) are husband-and-wife OR nurses who have worked at Lions Gate Hospital since 2008. They came here together after working in the United Kingdom and Jap recalls being at a job fair in London and saying to the VCH recruiter, “We’re a package deal. If you hire me, you should hire my wife.” And they did. 

Both speak fondly of their time at LGH with Regie describing the close-knit OR team as, “a small family.  Jap says his favourite part of the job is when you see a patient a week or two after surgery, doing well and returned to health. “It’s fulfilling – that’s my personal reward”. Regie says she likes that, “I'm learning every day since we participate in different surgeries – never a dull moment in the OR.” 

Regie and Jap met in 200 1 while working in the Philippines and married in 2004. The couple has two children – their 13-year-old daughter was born in the Philippines and their seven-year-old son was born at Lions Gate Hospital. Jap had just come off night shift when he got word that Regie was in labour and was able to head upstairs for the delivery.

The couple doesn’t talk much about work at home, but say it’s a comfort that, “we understand each other” because of their shared profession. Working together, “we feel at home,” says Regie.

Jap adds that they don’t often work in the same operating room, but, “when I work with my wife, we rock!”

Suzanne & Ian Kruger

Ian and Suzanne (Suzi) came Pemberton in 2009 after living in working in the US for a number of years. Suzi had previously worked for VCH and with Pemberton on their short-list of potential places they wanted to live when they returned to Canada, they jumped when two nursing positions were available at the Pemberton Health Centre. 

The couple met in Vail, Colorado where Ian was a paramedic working both prehospital and in post-anesthetic Recovery (PAR).  Suzi came to work for a ski season in PAR and they met on her first day in town, during her first visit to the unit. “We have worked together at nearly every job since we met,” says Ian. “When we worked on large units it was almost like we didn't really work together. We would commute to work and frequently not see each other for an entire shift.”

Now that they are the only two staff, that relationship is pretty different.  “We work together really well and have a good understanding of our individual strengths,” notes Ian. “While we find ourselves discussing work at home a lot more than we would like, we make a conscious effort to treat each other as colleagues at work and maintain a professional relationship with the care team and our patients.”

Helen & Tony Howarth

Helen and Tony have worked at VCH since 2004 after relocating to Squamish from the UK. After honeymooning in the Canadian Rockies in 2002, Helen and Tony started thinking about making a move here and decided on Vancouver. “We thought where else was picturesque and pleasant and might have work for us?” says Tony. 

Tony, a pharmacist, came to Squamish General Hospital about four years ago after working at UBC Hospital and Helen, a registered nurse, has worked at Vancouver General Hospital, Lions Gate Hospital and Squamish General Hospital (SGH) and has been at SGH for the past 15 months in the emergency department.

When asked about the perks of living and working together, Tony notes, “It makes the commute easier! It's made life much less difficult for things like school drop-off and kid collection, and after-school activities.” Working in the same hospital also means sharing lunch breaks, when shift schedules permit, and Tony adds that it, “makes the job easier in a way because we get a better appreciation of each other's roles and there are sessions of ‘why don't you do this’ over a beer or two in an evening.”  

Other perks noted by the couple include being part of a small community at SGH where staff and physicians regard each other as family and look out for each other. Tony says, “It's been an interesting transition from a small Somerset town where I knew half the community to a rural BC town where I know half the community, but I wouldn't change any of it.”

SOURCE: Family ties in the Coastal community of care ( )
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