For Heather Lee, taking on her new role as the CEO of Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout was part of a natural progression.
Originally a Registered Nurse (RN), Heather’s career has continued to evolve as she has sought out opportunities to have an ever-growing, positive impact on the health care system. Heather has been with the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre since August 2012. After graduating from Sir Sanford Fleming College’s Diploma Nursing program in 1987, she held various nursing and leadership positions including staff nurse, program manager and program director.
“I’ve always been drawn to leadership,” says Heather. “When I was providing care as a nurse, I would often take on teaching and mentoring roles for other nurses. That’s when I learned that leadership was another way I could impact health care and support those who provide care.”
In July 2013, Heather was appointed as Vice President, Health Services and Chief Nursing Executive at Meno Ya Win. Then, in July, 2017, Heather was appointed to the role President and Chief Executive Office (CEO). “The best part about working here is the people and the relationships that are built with those we serve. Even though the organization is growing in size, it feels like a tight-knit team, a family,” says Heather. “We’re working in the same direction towards a common vision, and it’s extremely rewarding to see positive change for those in need of care, whether we are improving access, the quality of the patient experience, or health outcomes.”
In 2008, Heather completed the Advanced Health Leadership Program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management where she further refined her leadership skills with a specific focus on health care. Heather also completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Victoria and her Masters of Healthcare Administration at Walden University.
Heather is dedicated to the provision of high-quality, culturally safe care for all patients of Sioux Lookout and the surrounding area, which includes Pickle Lake and 32 First Nations communities – most of them fly-in.
“We, and the population we serve, face some challenges based on our geography,” says Heather. “However, it’s an opportunity to create new and innovative ways to best serve our clients. As an example, access to care can be difficult for many members of our communities because of large geography and dispersed population. We also encounter the same pressures that you see elsewhere in the province – including Alternate Level of Care (ALC) pressures, increasing demand for Long-Term Care spaces, as well as physician shortages. Nonetheless, in the face of these challenges, our staff and physicians continue to provide great care to the clients we serve.”
For Heather, and for the future of Meno Ya Win, facing challenges means capitalizing on new opportunities to work together while also exploring new ways of doing things. It’s a necessary approach that Heather takes in stride, and one that will undoubtedly bring positive change to the delivery of care for the people of Sioux Lookout and the surrounding area.
“We will continue to grow, while trailblazing and bringing new ideas to the table,” says Heather. “We are always finding ways to improve access to care, build new partnerships, and leverage the possibilities so we can ensure the best care for the people we serve.”