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Guest Columnist

IH: Keeping you informed

Column from Erwin Malzer, Interior Health Board Chair

It is with great enthusiasm that I step into my new role as Interior Health Board Chair. In the spirit of new beginnings, I want to provide the community with some highlights from the past year and an update moving forward.

Last year saw many milestones, not the least of which was within our cardiac surgery program. Although based in Kelowna, it serves the entire region, allowing people to receive surgery closer to home rather than travelling to the Lower Mainland. The program recently marked completion of more than 1,000 open heart surgeries and the outcomes have been excellent. The team has really raised the bar and has already been receiving awards.

Building on our successful surgical program, the new Interior Heart & Surgical Centre (IHSC) currently under construction in Kelowna will benefit patients across Interior Health by providing the highest level of medical care ever seen in the Interior, through an integrated critical care facility supported by a full range of clinical supports. The IHSC opens to patients in September 2015.

The $325 million Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital continues to move forward, with an RFP expected to be released to the short-listed proponents in February. This project will enhance access to services and improve patient care through the consolidation of programs currently distributed throughout the hospital.

In August, a terrible accident brought out the best in our employees when a bus crash occurred near Merritt. Forty-four patients were transferred to three of our hospitals: Nicola Valley Hospital & Health Centre in Merritt, Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and Kelowna General Hospital. Staff, physicians, volunteers and administrators acted quickly to prepare for and treat patients. The board and I were extremely impressed with the quick and professional response.

As in other places in the world, particularly rural areas, recruitment for physicians and expert staff remains a challenge. To further support our communities in ongoing recruitment efforts, Interior Health recently created a recruitment guide, which is now available on the Better Here recruitment website. It is a great resource to support family physician and specialist recruitment.

Looking forward, we can expect to see an even greater focus on health promotion, primary care, integrated community care and chronic disease management to further decrease demand on hospital and residential services. There has been great collaboration occurring between hospitals, family doctors in local Divisions of Family Practice, and community programs.

We continue to promote improved public health as that keeps people home where they want to be and helps relieve pressure on hospitals.

We are also embracing new approaches to care. For example, last year we launched a new surveillance nurse program, where nurses check in and monitor low risk clients via regular phone calls. Interior Health has and will continue to be at the forefront of using technology to meet patient needs. The use of telehealth has grown to include more than 20 different medical fields, with nearly 55,000 patient uses per year throughout Interior Health.

In closing I’d like to recognize the incredible people that make up Interior Health. We have 1,500 physicians, 19,500 staff and over 4,800 volunteers, each one dedicated to doing all they can to contribute to the provision of quality care. Health care is fascinating and complex. It touches each of us at one time or another, often while we are at our most vulnerable time. I am very proud to do my part in helping guide the organization as we meet new challenges and celebrate our successes. 


Reopening your heart

It is difficult to measure the openness of our hearts, but all we have to do is look at the innocence of children at play. They are not guarded with their feelings, laughter, or affection. If you have children you know what I mean. They are completely vulnerable.

Vulnerability is a difficult and scary position for many of us. If you are reading this and your heart is beginning to race, you are not alone. However, vulnerability is key to achieving a deeper connection in our relationships and experiencing the intimacy many of us long for.

I know for myself, I never truly understood what vulnerability was and how important it was. Moreover, I never knew how to become vulnerable and I could never get to the level of intimacy and love that I longed for. In my past I battled with depression and had no idea what exactly to do about it. Eventually I got so sick of feeling that way so I started to study, research and look within. I noticed the more closed my heart was, the further I kept people away in life, be it in dating relationships or even with friends and family.

At the end of last year I finally learned how to truly become open with myself. As a result, I saw that I was the only one in charge of my heart and that being vulnerable was okay. When I faced hurtful situations similar to the ones in my past, I didn’t have to turn to destructive behavior or let my thoughts, feelings and mood go spiraling down. I was in charge of the perception and the reality.

I discovered being vulnerable wasn’t such a scary place to be. It was more enjoyable and it allowed me the freedom to see who I really was. Now I can hug, laugh and show affection like a little child in addition to retaining the wisdom I have gained as an adult. I have never been happier in my life than I am today.

After discovering I no longer had to live my life being depressed, I set off on this journey I am on; to share with others the truth I have learned about love. I know we all wish for a recipe, or a step by step guide that lists all the things we need to do in life to get something we desire. However, love does not work that way and neither does vulnerability. Fortunately each one of you doesn’t require a list. You were all created as unique individuals and each one of you possesses the ability to achieve vulnerability and love.

It’s like being a good parent, there is not a step by step guidebook on how to raise children. Parents experience the process and learn to love more effectively through their experiences. Likewise, it is the same with vulnerability, it needs to be experienced, and before we can experience it, we must be willing to try. With a little practice, some guidance and encouragement I believe you all have what it takes to achieve the love and the life you dream of. I believe each one of you has an innocent inner child living inside of you and once rediscovered and added to the wisdom of your adulthood, love will explode in all areas in your life between your partner, your friendships, career, and yourself as a whole.



David Van Trump is 31 and lives in Kelowna. He explores, studies and writes about love and relationships. He wants to share his passion and experience with all those interested. His goal is to motivate and impact people’s life. You can reach him at

2015 Mortgage rates

In October of 2013 then Bank of Canada (BoC) Governor Mark Carney left the overnight interest rate at 1%, a mark it had already stayed at for over two years at that time. Industry experts and economists clamoured for an increase and claimed Canada had no exit strategy from the low rates and, as a result, inflation would be rampant. Now, over four years later, the rate remains the same almost matching the longest period in Canadian history without a change, but many now predict that change is coming…

There are many factors that affect the overnight interest rate, but chief among them are inflation and the policies of the United States. In December of 2014 the BoC, in explaining why the overnight rate would remain at 1%, issued a statement: 1 “Inflation has risen by more than expected. The increase in inflation over the past year is largely due to the temporary effects of a lower Canadian dollar and some sector-specific factors, notably telecommunications and meat prices… The U.S. economy has clearly strengthened, particularly business investment, which has benefitted Canada’s exports. Growth in the rest of the world, in contrast, continues to disappoint, leading authorities in some regions to deploy further policy stimulus. Oil prices have continued to fall, due to both supply and demand developments. In this context, global financial conditions have eased further.”

The United States, seeing significant signs of recovery from The Great Recession, is staying firm with their 0% interest rate citing, among other things, the need for a further reduction in unemployment. This is, however, not expected to be the case for the duration of 2015. Most experts expect an increase in the US overnight rate in June of 2015 to .25%, but those same pundits also predict that rate will be 1% by year’s end. The question on the minds of Canadians is whether Canada will follow in lockstep on this US economic policy as they do with so many others from our friendly neighbours to the south.

For the time being Canada’s overnight interest rate holds strong at 1%. Significantly down from its record high of 16% a short time ago in February of 1991 and up from its record low of .25% in April 2009, the height of The Great Recession in the US. I predict an increase to Canada’s overnight interest rate in the summer to 1.25% and, if there is no great economic fallout, a further increase by year’s end of .25% to bring it to 1.50%. This will in turn raise the prime interest rate by .5% meaning variable rates, prime - %, will go up and fixed 5 year mortgages could go from currently hovering around the 3% mark to 3.5% before 2016 starts.




Scott Allan has been in the mortgage industry since 2008 when he worked at the Financial Institutions Commission, an agency of the the BC Ministry of Finance that regulates the mortgage industry in BC.  For many years Scott dedicated himself to making sure consumers in BC were protected from fraudulent mortgage schemes and unscrupulous brokers.


Family jungle adventure

I desired to visit the jungle with my family to experience a taste of earth’s raw wilderness before it is gone. Corcovado is that place—a small, untouched section of Costa Rican jungle and one of the most bio-diverse places left on earth.

Getting there is not easy. Two long plane rides deliver us from British Columbia to San Jose. After a five hour van ride (driving under monkey bridges), we arrive in the Osa Peninsula at the small town of Sierpe. Next, we board a small boat and travel along the mighty Sierpe River for a half an hour. We pass by palm oil plantations dotted amongst dense jungle forests. We reach the bank of our vacation property and then hike for ten minutes up a steep hill. Our jungle abode sits high on a cliff overlooking the Sierpe River—no Internet, no television and limited solar power. We are home, sweet jungle home.


Fierce Jungle Nights

Life takes turns sleeping in the jungle. The jungle is hot, noisy, dark and mysterious. There are no walls in the jungle. Mere insect-screen walls separate us from the raw wild world. My three daughters cannot sleep. Jungle shock takes hold and thus, it comes to be that, five Canadian cowards decide to sleep together in the loft bedroom. We are primates, returning to our ancestral roots—safe in the treetops.

Jungle air, heavy with oxygen and water, is our blanket. Musky and delicious jungle scents intoxicate us into a light sleep. At four a.m. Armageddon is upon us—a roar, an earth shaking, heart stopping roar…

“Is that a jaguar?” I whisper into the night.

“No. It’s a howler monkey,” my daughter Tabitha whispers.

Howler monkeys are the loudest terrestrial animal on earth and the one roaring in the tree behind my bed must be the size of King Kong.

Setting Sail on the South Pacific

As the sun peeks above the river, the trees surrounding our loft shake with life. Capuchin monkeys have come to check out their new neighbours. They crawl on branches above our heads and peek at us in our beds. We count eighteen; three carry babies on their backs. Morning has come.

Corcovado National Park is over a two and a half hour boat ride along the rugged South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. One cannot access the park without a profession guide; thus, I have hired Caesar. Our destination is Sirena Ranger Station; the area is extremely remote and tops for animal sightings.

Caesar picks us up at our dock at seven a.m. For the first hour, we travel down the Sierpe River, past huge crocodiles asleep in the morning sun. Finally, we reach the end of the seemingly calm waters of the river and attempt to enter the rough ocean. Our small craft charges into the unpredictable currents of the South Pacific.

Our life jackets are ancient. Caesar says the ocean is relatively calm compared to later in the rainy season. He says they’ll use a bigger boat in few months time. I’m thinking, now would be a good time to bring out the big boat!

The South Pacific Ocean is an adventure in itself. The Corcovado coast is uninhabited magnificence with craggy rock cliffs, dense jungle canopies and waterfalls crashing into the sea. A large pod of dolphins swim along side our boat and leap from the ocean. A South Pacific storm soaks our crew in warm rainwater before we hit shore.

There is no dock to access Corcovado. The boat drops us off in rough currents and we walk to shore with our gear on our heads.

We’ve timed our trip just right, at the start of the rainy season. The animals have returned to the coastal trails along with shallow streams. Later in the season, the streams will turn into torrential rivers that are difficult to cross.

Our overall jungle attire appears more Roxy-Roller than safari. We wear colourful rubber boots with tall, striped socks that reach above the boots (to prevent blisters). Caesar’s impressed and says that we’re well suited for the day. Most travellers bring expensive hiking boots that are useless in the wet park.


Zen Jungle Days

Life exists surprisingly calmly in Corcovado. The jungle is an organized ebb and flow of wondrously busy organisms and creatures. I let go of my otherness (humanness) and feel the flow of life that I exist amongst. Everything falls into place in my mind, my being. Life suddenly makes sense. I get it. As strange as it may seem, I feel as though I have finally come home.

We follow Caesar closely and silently as he tracks a large tapir, careful to avoid the deadly and aggressive Fer De Lance viper that hides on the jungle floor. We walk amongst an overwhelming plethora of life: quiet (yet determined) mating ant eaters, new world monkeys moving through the trees overhead, prehistoric looking birds, huge orb spiders sitting on indestructible webs and celestial butterflies that never land. The fauna is equally impressive: animal-like mangrove trees with a placenta that nourishes its infant tree, trees that shed their leaves in dry season and use their bark for photosynthesis.


We Are One In The Jungle

I feel earth’s vulnerability in the jungle. If one of us is hurt, eradicated from the earth, we all are at risk. Together we thrive, alone we die. We are more than a tribe of humans; we are a connected tribe of mammals, a connected tribe of animals, a connected tribe of earth’s life. Every living organism on earth: plant, animal, fungi—a fluid entity of undetermined proportions that I am a part of along with every living organism in the universe. Our energy flows as one—one consciousness, a life circle of symbiotic connections.



Mix Hart is a multimedia writer, novelist and artist. She blogs, writes novels, junior fiction, picture books and freelance articles. Her first young adult novel Queen of the Godforsaken will be published by Thistledown Press this fall 2015. You can learn more about Mix at

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