Castlegar’s Suzanne Lehbauer has been recognized by the Health Employers Association of B.C. for something a lot of people in the area would already call her — a Health Care Hero.
Lehbauer is the executive director of the Castlegar Hospice Society (CHS) and her innovative virtual reality program has already been internationally recognized. The program allows hospice clients to use technology to virtually visit their homes or gardens, attend family events or take a virtual trip around the world.
But Lehbauer’s impact goes far beyond one program.
Her compassion, knowledge and grief support services are utilized and appreciated by many community members.
“What became apparent to me was, as Suzanne makes it all look so easy, not all hospice societies and services are the same and it isn’t until you cross boundaries and use multiple services that you realize just how lucky we are,” says Lynn Ujvary, who nominated her for the award.
Ujvary has been on both sides of the hospice table — as a supporter and fundraiser and as someone in need of their services.
“The impact is huge and ongoing,” she says. “[Suzanne] makes a difference.”
“She has taken us to a new level in thinking about hospice and I suspect she’s not yet done.”
This isn’t the first time Lehbauer has been recognized for her work. She has been rewarded four times over 10 years with the B.C. Hospice and Palliative Care Association and Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem award.
Under Lehbauer’s leadership, Castlegar Hospice has also been recognized three times since 2015 with the Community Social Award by the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce — an award that is the result of input and voting by the Castlegar community.
The chamber’s executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk congratulated Lehbauer for the new award by saying, “You are such a gift to the Castlegar region with your incredible passion that you bring to Hospice. I’m not sure most people can begin to realize the endless hours that you put in for the people that you serve. You have always gone that extra mile for those in need.”