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Fraser Bell reflects on nearly 20 years of working for Northern Health


Fraser Bell dressed in a dark blue suit.
Fraser Bell, former VP, PQIM of Northern Health

Fraser Bell, Vice President, Planning, Quality and Information Management (PQIM) for Northern Health, retired at the end of April 2024 after more than 30 years in health service management. Fraser was responsible for strategic and operational planning, quality monitoring, supporting improvement processes, information management, and information technology at Northern Health. His previous work experience included senior positions in health management consulting (PricewaterhouseCoopers and IBM), government (Ontario Ministry of Health, Huron Perth District Health Council) and health operations.

Fraser holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from McMaster University and completed his PhD at University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) last year. He started working for Northern Health (NH) in January 2005.

Did you hold previous positions at NH prior to becoming VP PQIM? What were they? What did you find challenging and interesting about them?

I worked as a Health Services Administrator in Quesnel for three years before starting as VP in 2008. Prior to working for NH, I worked as a consultant with IBM in Milton, Ontario on shorter contracts, so working at NH gave me the ability to engage with the organization for a longer period and the opportunity to build a team. I enjoyed engaging with the community in Quesnel and working with political folks at the municipal and provincial levels.

What are some of the accomplishments you’re most proud of during your time at NH?

In 2016, we completed a bed modeling project for complex care and long-term care beds. The modeling showed an increased need for complex care beds, more than we could possibly provide; however, we were able to show a need for more home support, assisted living, and supportive housing in multiple communities. This modeling has led to significant builds happening in Prince George, Smithers, Fort St. John, and Quesnel, although there’s a long lead time for long-term care developments in each community. The modeling also showed the need to grow home support in a massive way.

Another accomplishment that I’m proud of is the development of service networks in most of our service areas, which has improved our service management by having community leadership and clinical leadership at each site.

We have also developed partnerships with post-secondary institutions to grow our research capacity at NH. In 2022, Northern Health, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, and UNBC launched the new Northern Centre for Clinical Research (NCCR) to help foster collaborative clinical and medical life sciences research across the North. Many people would like to participate in research as part of their careers in health care, so we’re helping facilitate this.

What are some of your best memories of living in Northern BC?

We moved to Quesnel in 2005 when our kids were quite young, and we have lots of good memories of raising the two of them in Quesnel and Prince George. We met lots of good families and parents while keeping the kids engaged in swim club, vocal recitals, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing.

What did working as VP PQIM teach you?

It taught me the importance of building a good team by hiring good people. I learned the importance of empowering people and getting out of their way, while being there for what they need.

This job has also taught me patience. Every idea has its time; however, now might not be the right time. If you continue to promote your ideas, usually something comes out of it eventually.

Where are you headed from here?

We’re living in Vernon now, and summer is coming! I am looking forward to being outside, cycling, and sailing on the lake. We’ll be traveling to Scotland in May with our daughter to create that break from the job. I’ll probably come back to NH to help after a good break from work. I’m also looking forward to playing guitar. I did my PhD while working at NH, so I haven’t had time to play guitar for a long time.

I would like to say thanks to Northern Health and the people of Northern BC. They are great people, and it’s a great place to live; that’s why we stayed!