Fond farewell for respected Primary Care Nurse

Deborah receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Canadian Forces Health Services Command at her retirement ceremony on Sept. 3. Photo credit Dave Yates

Deborah receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Canadian Forces Health Services Command at her retirement ceremony on Sept. 3. Photo credit Dave Yates

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Members from Canadian Forces Health Services Pacific said farewell to one of their longest serving members.

Doctors, nurses, and clinic staff held a retirement ceremony outside the main entrance Sept. 3 for Primary Care Nurse Deborah Walker.

With physical distancing measures in place, they celebrated her 18 years as a civilian Department of National Defence employee, and her 41-year career in the health care sector.

Walker, 60, says the event and her career were special.

“I loved the job of looking after and caring for our sailors, but my time has come to an end and it’s time to move on. It was a demanding job that took great focus and energy.”

She acted as a liaison between ship’s medical teams and land-based members of the Integrated Health Team 3 (IHT3).

Her co-workers, including Primary Care Services Manager Peter Blencowe, praised the skills and determination she brought to the table.

“Over the years I have known Deb, she has had but one aim: the health and well-being of the sailors,” said Blencowe. “She truly exemplifies what nursing is all about and treated every person with the same level of care and respect. We will miss the joy and enthusiasm that Deb brought to work every day.”

Walker says her desire to care for people began at a young age.

“I decided I was either going to be a teacher or a nurse. I went the nursing route, never looked back, and it was an enjoyable career from the get-go. I started my career at Veterans’ Hospital in Winnipeg as a Nurse Aid and ended with the Department of National Defence.”

Her connections to Canada’s navy were strong even before she joined the base health care team. She grew up in Winnipeg and was a member of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and the Navy League of Canada Wrennettes from 1973 to 1979.

“Her late father Petty Officer Stoker Hugh Walker was a member of the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War and served aboard ships of the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic.

After working many years as a Nurse Aid, Walker became a registered nurse in 1988 after graduating from Red River Community College.

Shortly afterwards, she moved to Victoria and joined the team at Royal Jubilee Hospital for 14 years. Then she made the jump to the base clinic in 2002 after noticing a job posting for temporary work.

Her duties as a liaison between Pacific Fleet ships and their staff included working closely with the ship’s Physician Assistants and Medical Technicians, the chain of command, calling hospitals to check on members when they were admitted, receiving documents and hospital charts, arranging for follow-up care when patients were discharged from the hospital, and coordinating care for members being repatriated from ship deployments.

“It was really a team effort to make sure a ship was ready to deploy and every member of our health care team was part of that. It was especially rewarding to know the sailors on RCN ships respected the jobs we did.”

Walker isn’t finished with her work in the health care field. She will continue with casual employment with local private sector company Occupational & Emergency Medical Solutions and also in a consultant’s role as a Nurse Assessor with Veteran’s Affairs Canada.

She offers this advice to today’s young nurses and health care professionals just starting out in the field.

“Be proud of your chosen profession, always take time to learn and above all be kind,” concluded Walker.


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