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Located on 24 acres of riverfront parkland in the heart of Winnipeg, Riverview Health Centre Inc. is a place of beauty, inspiration and healing. For Riverview’s 850 employees, it’s also about one collective mission — providing Manitobans in need with the best possible rehabilitation, palliative and long-term care.
“I just love what Riverview stands for,” says Sheena-Mae Cruz, who joined the organization in 2008 as an aspiring accountant and is now the administrative clerk for education services. “We have amazing staff and a management team who are passionate about the people we care for. You are not just another patient or resident in a room; you mean everything to us.”
Sina Barkman, who was once a teenage volunteer at Riverview and is now the facility’s chief human resources officer, concurs.
“What we hear from patients and families is that the people who work here truly care,” says Barkman. “Our reputation throughout the community is stellar.”
It’s a reputation built over more than a century. After being founded in 1911 as the Winnipeg General Hospital, the institution became known as one of the best modern hospitals in the world for treating people with communicable diseases such as typhoid fever, diphtheria, smallpox and tuberculosis.
In the 1950s, the centre gained further prominence for treating victims of the polio epidemic, many of whom spent decades confined to iron lungs.
Today, staff at the 387-bed Riverview complex, which was built in the 1990s on the historic grounds of its predecessor facilities, continue to grapple with yet another era-defining health-care challenge.
“One of Riverview’s core values is resilience, which has been particularly important over the last three years as we responded to the pandemic,” says CEO Kathleen Klaasen. “I’ve been in awe and I’ve sometimes had tears in my eyes as I witnessed the willingness of our staff to roll up their sleeves and do everything possible to support our patients and their families through trying times.”
As an organization, Riverview is placing a renewed emphasis on recognizing that hard work and dedication, with gratitude as a central theme. Individual employee actions are noted with “thank you” cards from managers and collectively marked at the end of each year with “12 days of thanks” celebrations. Every manager has a dedicated budget to support staff recognition through a variety of team-building events.
Riverview is also focused on employee wellness and making the workplace fun and enjoyable.
In addition to a subsidized staff gym, Riverview supports everything from yoga sessions to snow-shoeing and other sporting activities that can take place during breaks or before or after work. Every employee who is a member of the gym is also eligible for a monthly half-hour massage delivered by an on-site registered massage therapist.
Organized social events include a February Follies barbeque held during the depths of the Winnipeg winter, another staff appreciation barbeque in the spring, an annual long-service/retirement celebration, and a family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebration complete with fireworks.
Many of these activities are spearheaded by the PEP (positively engaging people) social committee, headed by Cruz.
“While we all work hard, the culture here is also about having fun,” says Cruz. “We’re definitely a close-knit community.”
Another key priority is building connections with organizations in the Riverview neighbourhood and across Winnipeg through volunteerism. Among the groups supported in this way are the Siloam Mission, Harvest Manitoba, Salvation Army and Main Street Project.
Every Earth Day, Riverview staff also fan out to do a cleanup of the neighbourhood.
“We’re rooted in this community,” says Klaasen, “and we strive to bring people together and forge strong partnerships.”
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Riverview Health Centre