Good mental health is essential for living a happy, meaningful and productive life. Thanks to Denyse Houde’s ongoing work as a Director of Mental Health & Addiction Issues, the Fraser Health Authority is well positioned to help the most vulnerable members of our population to enjoy the full lives that they deserve.
Denyse manages a budget of about $30 million, encompassing primary, acute and community care for up to 1.6 million citizens. Her initiatives affect services in Burnaby, New Westminster and the TriCities.
“Through her leadership and strong collaboration with Primary Care, Emergency Medicine, Geriatric Medicine and other programs, she works tirelessly to optimize care for patients,” says Mental Health & Substance Use (MH&SU) Regional Department Head Terry Isomura. A finely-attuned sense of fiscal responsibility, widely-respected expertise in her field and strong advocacy for accessible, quality care help Denyse stand out even among other top-qualified nursing administrators.
“Denyse has become the regional expert on the Mental Health Act and Guardianship legislation,” says Dr. Nigel Fisher. Her extensive knowledge and authority stem from lifelong learning and unmatched experience in her field, since she first began working in the field as a staff nurse at an Inpatient Psychiatry Department in 1977.
After making a positive impact as a frontline nurse, she now supports patients’ mental health across entire regions by making far-reaching changes across a continuum of care. For instance, she helped shape facility planning for the Royal Columbian Hospital’s $50 million MH&SU’s redevelopment; she led implementation of a system-wide community electronic health system; she has also integrated MH&SU with primary health care and conducted comprehensive reviews of therapy and assessment services; she also is part of the MH&SU Provincial Planning Council — all of these major efforts have had a significant, positive impact on patient outcomes.
A responsible and accountable manager, Denyse is constantly working to improve support for health care practitioners as well as patients. For instance, she has supported tools to manage behavioral risks for Emergency nurses and physicians at Fraser Health, such as the ASTAT Clinical Practice Guidelines and the RAC Service Delivery Manual. This has improved safety for staff who might otherwise be taking unnecessary risks with patients undergoing a mental health crisis, ensuring all stakeholders benefit.
While Denyse has shown dynamic leadership, she also inspires those around her to be better leaders as well. “In my own role as the Manager for Tertiary Mental Health and Substance Use Services, I reported to Denyse and I learned from her about the kind of administrator I wanted to be,” says Judith Macrae. “Denyse is an authentic leader, a clear communicator and skilled listener who is open to new ideas. Again and again, Denyse has coached and mentored others and led interdisciplinary teams through significant initiatives to improve service delivery.”
Denyse has been a transformational nurse leader who fosters a healthy work environment. “She leads with integrity and by example,” says Registered Nurse Janet Shortt. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she is known for being “caring and considerate, fostering confidence through frequent feedback and recognition — an exceptional role model for nurse leaders.”