Nurse named to lead Winnipeg Health Region

Arlene Wilgosh
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Profile on Arlene Wilgosh

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, March / April 2010

A registered nurse with a passion for caring and a willingness to listen to people is the new President & CEO of the Winnipeg Health Region.

Arlene Wilgosh, who started her career as a nurse at Health Sciences Centre and rose to become provincial Deputy Minister of Health, was named to the top post earlier this month. She takes over from Dr. Brian Postl, who announced last fall that he would be leaving the Region.

Wilgosh is the second person and the first woman and nurse to hold the top job at the Winnipeg Health Region since the organization was created in 1999.

The lifelong Manitoban says she is looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that will come with heading the largest health region in the province, and one of the biggest in the country.

"I'm really very excited about this opportunity," Wilgosh says. "As a nurse, my focus throughout my career has been on the patient. This new role lets me get back closer to the patient and the decisions that focus on making our health-care system more responsive to the people we serve."

Among other things, Wilgosh says she wants to build on the Region's strengths, particularly in the areas of patient-centred care, clinical practice and research. "I want us to be No. 1 in these areas," says Wilgosh. "There are a lot of great people doing a lot of great work within the Winnipeg Health Region right now, and my goal is to work with these dedicated health-care professionals to help build on our successes."

She also supports the continued development of an academic health network for the Region, as well as the ongoing efforts to enhance the primary-care system. The delivery of care for Aboriginal and immigrant populations is also high on the agenda. "Quality patient care requires a strong, integrated relationship comprised of clinical care, research, and teaching supported by a close collaborative partnership with the University of Manitoba," she says.

At the same time, Wilgosh says she is also conscious of the challenges the Region faces, especially in the current economic climate. While her goal is to continue looking for ways to be efficient, she is also determined to guard against "backsliding on the great work done by the staff" of the Winnipeg Health Region.

Dr. John Wade, Chair of the Winnipeg Health Region Board of Directors, says Wilgosh was chosen to lead the Region after an exhaustive search by a national recruitment firm. "Ms. Wilgosh was selected from a field of very strong candidates and we're delighted to have an individual with such a high calibre of health-care knowledge and expertise to continue to lead this important work and carry on our caring tradition," Wade says.

Born and raised in Minnedosa, Wilgosh has a long history of working in health care - both on the front lines and in administration. After starting as a nurse at Health Sciences Centre 36 years ago, she moved on to hold various front-line nursing and nursing leadership roles at the Victoria General Hospital, including Acting Vice-President of Nursing. She also served as Chief Executive Officer of the Red River Valley Health District in Morris before assuming a number of positions with the provincial Health Department, culminating with a five-year stint as Deputy Minister.

Wilgosh says her years of experience as a senior leader in the health system will help her in her new role. "In addition to my perspective as a nurse, I've developed working relationships with a variety of people and organizations involved in Manitoba's and Canada's health system," she says. Wilgosh is married to a retired Winnipeg police officer and has one daughter. She enjoys reading and watching a variety of sports with her husband, especially hockey and football.

"I also like to get some exercise every day. We all know that exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, and I really try to get out for regular walks. Our dog, Riza, insists on it."

Wave: March / April 2010

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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