Last week the Board of Directors of Prairie Mountain Health announced the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Brian Schoonbaert effective April 5, 2024, and an extensive recruitment process for a new CEO is now underway.

"Brian's retirement was no surprise," shares Board of Directors Chairperson, Lon Cullen. "When Brian came on 3 years ago it was to help us get through the pandemic crises and he had guaranteed that he would be here for 3 or 4 years, so we were planning for his departure at that time, knowing that there was an end date that was in short order."

"Brian helped us tremendously through the covid years and is also helping with a lot of the construction [at the Brandon Regional Health Centre] right now and it just made sense for him to continue his plans to spend more time with his family," says Cullen.  "When he came to us it was a matter of whether he wanted to retire at that point or help out when we really needed the help. He chose to work with us, which we truly appreciate."

Schoonbaert’s career in health care has spanned over 35 years – initially as a Finance Director for BGTW (Baldur, Glenboro, Treherne and Wawanesa), then as Vice President – Finance and Information Services for Brandon General Hospital and Brandon RHA. In 2011, he became Chief Executive Officer for Brandon RHA.

"Ninety-nine percent of Brian's time was spent in the Westman Region," notes Cullen. "He had experience from top to bottom and was well familiar with everybody in the communities that surround and form Prairie Mountain Health."

With the amalgamations of health regions in 2012, Schoonbaert assumed the role of Vice President, Finance, Capital, Support Services and Chief Operating Officer of BRHC for Prairie Mountain Health. In 2018, he was seconded to the Manitoba Transformation Management Office (TMO), leading several initiatives for the TMO.

"One of the things we found with Brian was that he is a great compassionate leader and a very good listener and so he's been wonderful hearing from communities about their concerns and trying to recognize that we're all working in this together," Cullen explains. "So, it's not a 'them' and 'us' mentality.  It was a very collaborative effort to solve as much as we could."

"At the same time there were so many things through the early pandemic coming down dealing with Covid," he adds. "And it was divisive and problematic for everybody.  But this spoke to him as a leader, and we needed a strong leader; somebody who was there to help.  It was a tenuous time for all of us, and a 'testing' time as much as anything else.  There were lots of factions across the entire province, and Prairie Mountain Health was no different than the rest of the province."

Lon Cullen shares what steps they are taking to fill the position of CEO of Prairie Mountain Health. Please listen to the audio below!

We thank Brian for his commitment, passion, and dedication to Prairie Mountain Health. We wish him a happy and healthy retirement!”

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