Northern Health Region CEO Helga Bryant will be retiring from her post, effective next March.
Bryant has served as CEO for the Northern Health Region and its predecessor, the Nor-Man Regional Health Authority, for the past 12 years. Bryant has worked in health care for the past 47 years, starting as a registered nurse back in 1974.
"I have been privileged with an amazing career that has literally taken me from the bedside to the boardroom," said Bryant in an NHR-issued press release.
“It’s been my honour to work with such an outstanding and committed team of health professionals throughout the NHR.”
Bryant's health care career includes 19 years of clinical practice at Brandon Regional Health Centre, with Bryant eventually becoming nurse manager and director of the centre. From there, Bryant became the first vice-president of acute care and diagnostics for the then-called Brandon Regional Health Authority in 1997. Bryant later became the vice-president and chief nursing officer for Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg from 2002-2009, then spent a year as the director for the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.
Bryant became the CEO of the Nor-Man Regional Health Authority in 2010, becoming the CEO of the NHR when the Nor-Man Regional Health Authority and Burntwood Regional Health Authority in Thompson amalgamated.
In recent years in Flin Flon, Bryant presided over the construction and opening of a new emergency department at Flin Flon General Hospital, but also presided over services such as obstetrics, birth care, day surgery and others at the hospital being either reduced or removed outright.
The NHR also, as of earlier this year, had a nurse staff vacancy rate over 25 per cent, experienced recent partial closure of health services in Leaf Rapids and Gillam and issues at Thompson General Hospital leading to long periods with little or no hot water.
“As the Northern Health Region’s first CEO, Helga Bryant has earned a reputation as a caring, compassionate registered nurse who never failed to advocate for our northern patients,” said NHR board chair Cal Huntley in the press release.
“Helga built and nurtured great relationships with people and communities in the north. She remains committed to the goal of ending anti-Indigenous racism in health care that we will continue to work toward.”
Manitoba health minister Audrey Gordon also praised Bryant's service.
“On behalf of our government, I commend Helga Bryant on her dedication and tireless efforts to advance healthcare in northern Manitoba,” said Gordon.
“Her leadership and commitment to Northern Regional Health Authority staff and communities of the north is admirable.”
Bryant will continue on as CEO until March 30, 2023, with the NHR searching for a new CEO in the interim. In the announcement, Bryant said that she does not plan on retiring fully from the workforce, saying she plans to spend time at her home near Riding Mountain National Park in southern Manitoba.
A committee will be created within the NHR to find a replacement.