Tracey Kirkness, administrative assistant, Chilliwack General Hospital, has spent 27 years delivering consistent quality service to fellow employees and patients, too.
“Ask Tracey” is a phrase you’ll hear often amongst Chilliwack General Hospital staff. Tracey Kirkness is an Administrative Assistant at the hospital and has become known as the go-to person for innovative and economical solutions.
Tracey began her career with Fraser Health at Parkholm Lodge in 1991. She continued working with the NetCARE Day Program for Older Adults in 2003 and joined the administration team at Chilliwack General Hospital in 2011 where she continues to work today providing support to the Director of Clinical Operations.
People throughout Chilliwack General Hospital recount times when they have contacted Tracey for help, and she had the answer.
“One of the programs was looking for an extra bath chair,” recalls music therapist and former NetCare coworker Marni Brechin. “Somebody said ‘I’ll ask Tracey’ and within days, she’d found a gently used bath chair in a storage area, which didn’t cost any extra money operationally. This bath chair has been of great benefit to many clients.”
During a transition period at the hospital, she headed up moves of various departments. She went out of her way to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible. She liaised with the affected departments, organized equipment, and made sure new work spaces were stocked with the correct supplies. In some cases, she personally delivered the equipment. Her goal was to make things as easy as possible on people.
“I respect the jobs that people do to provide services for the patients, clients and residents that we serve and if I can help them better deliver those services by taking care of the day-to-day tasks so they can focus on their patients, that’s very satisfying to me.”
If Tracey sees something that doesn’t make sense she gets to work. While working in the NetCare Day Program for Older Adults, Tracey witnessed caregivers struggling to bring their loved ones inside the building because the parking spaces were too small.
“It was a small lot. The regular stalls would get used up and there’d be no space for people whose loved ones were arriving with wheelchairs,” explained Tracey. “When the lot was being repaved, I was given the perfect opportunity to advocate for proper parking stalls.”
And she did so diligently, resulting in a designated wheelchair parking space – something that is now used and appreciated by families and patients each day.
Tracey sees working in health care as an opportunity to serve her community.
“I’ve lived in Chilliwack my entire life - I have very deep roots here. This is one of the reasons why I like my job in health care so much. It’s my home, the residents of Chilliwack are important to me and I feel we have a great opportunity to provide an excellent service to our community.”
Tracey and her husband operate a family farm in Chilliwack and will be celebrating the farm’s 100th anniversary next year. “When I can, I enjoy driving the tractor, baling the hay – I like it; the open spaces, the ever-changing landscape, the legacy.” Meanwhile the couple will be celebrating their own milestone: 32-years of marriage. “My husband and I met in 1981 at McDonalds in Chilliwack. We were sixteen. He ordered a medium coke and I was working the drive-thru – the rest is history,” says Tracey.
Whether she’s organizing retirement teas, appreciation events or long term service awards, Tracey has a way of adding that special touch that makes it meaningful to the attendees.
“Tracey always does what she says she’s going to do,” says her director Connie Meskas. “Her focus on service delivery is second to none. She has taken on projects well above and beyond her role. I appreciate Tracey’s focus on patient experience. She often questions me and reminds me to consider that in my decision-making.”
“I love my job! I love to help – even with things that may not seem that exciting to others. To me, if it’s going to support staff and improve the patient experience, it’s very rewarding, “she says. “I always try to remember: we’re here to deliver the best quality health care that we can; it’s about the patient. So when faced with a particularly difficult challenge, you have to persevere.”
“I see people working really hard across the Chilliwack Health Services and I know we all share the same goal to provide the best patient care possible. I’m really grateful to work with all of them.”