Great reserves of dedication

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 9:15am

By Everton McLean

Rappelling off a wall in a military camp is not usually where you find Sandra Janes, health services director for emergency, medicine and surgery at the QEII Halifax Infirmary. But, one day last August, there she was, almost 11 metres high - all to learn more about her staff member, orthopedics health services manager Paul Easton.

Easton is also a lieutenant with the Canadian Forces reserves where he is attached to 33 Field Ambulance Unit in Halifax as a health care administration officer. He asked Janes to take part in the Executrek program offered by the Forces, which allows employers a peek inside the lives of their staff members’ military days. The employers are exposed to the work the members do, their training and the work ethic required to serve as a reservist.

For the military, Executrek is an opportunity to encourage support for military leave among employers. For the employers, such as Janes and Capital Health, it is an opportunity to see how the member’s time is spent.

Janes said the experience, which took place at Camp Aldershot near Kentville, opened her eyes to how valuable Easton’s military training is to his Capital Health role.

“He is an extremely skilled manager and logistics person and you can really see how the training he has in his reserve life is used [at Capital Health],” said Janes, praising Easton’s professionalism and organization.

“I’ve come to realize he’s probably not unique. A lot of people who have roles in the military do the same thing,” bringing their skills back to their civilian jobs, she said.
Capital Health offers paid military leave to staff members for training or deployment. In fact, the organization was recognized last March by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council for best practices in the provision of military leave following a nomination by Easton.

However, Easton said, reservists do often use their own vacation and personal time to attend courses and regular training. The flexibility he gets from Janes in arranging this time is helpful.

“Sandra has become a big supporter,” said Easton.

Easton, who has spent six years as a military reserve member and is close to being promoted to captain, said he uses the skills honed through the military every day at Capital Health.

His training has improved his ability to multitask and problem solve and it has improved his ability to manage his own staff as well. 

“It has helped me communicate with staff and get the most out of employees,” he said.

There are many health professionals, including licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and physicians, serving with the military who work full time in civilian hospitals and health centres. Easton said the training and high level of organization required to be a military member means staff that come to Capital Health with this background have excellent experience to draw on.

Janes agrees that reservists have a lot to offer in health care, especially after her day at Camp Aldershot.

“I really think (having military reservists on staff) is very beneficial,” Janes said. “As we are hiring and recruiting people, we understand the pros to this relationship.”