I am the I in IWK – Irene Barkhouse

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32 years ago, Irene Barkhouse started part-time at the IWK Health Centre working weekends as a telecom operator. Now, as the telecommunications coordinator, Barkhouse has made a career of connecting people to the right answers.

“There used to be a lot of hands-on work with mobility and land-lines. That’s no longer the case but I’m still behind the scene. I’m the go-to person for any telecom needs,” says Barkhouse.

As telecommunications coordinator, Barkhouse oversees almost all internal and external communications for health centre. With her team of 16 operators, she keeps track of patient contact information, makes sure health care professionals are accessible through pagers, sets policies for contact procedures and so much more.

Keeping track of it all, in an organization as large as the IWK, is no easy feat. With so many moving pieces, Barkhouse lends her years of experience and extensive knowledge of the IWK’s people to keep communication flowing.

Barkhouse makes-light that telecommunications and switchboard are like a brain for the health centre, having to know who and where everyone is at all times. “If people don’t know who to contact or aren’t sure how to proceed in getting in-touch with someone, then we’re who they ask.”

Barkhouse attributes her long-standing enjoyment of telecommunications to the people that she’s gotten to know along the way.

“My favourite part is the feeling I get from knowing that staff can rely on me to obtain any telecom-related information and helping them with their needs. Everyone that I have the pleasure of working for, and with, is amazing.”

“Telecommunications is all about team work, within the operators, myself and the entire organization. It’s a great feeling to work with such a fantastic team.”