Lianne Ritch, nurse coordinator, sexual assault service at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, has been recognized by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General for her tireless efforts and an over 25-year commitment to support people and communities in the field of sexual assault and gender-based violence. She is the recipient of the 2020 Award of Distinction from the Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards.
Left to right: Dr. Tracy Pickett, medical director and Lianne Ritch, nurse coordinator, sexual assault service, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. This photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Tracy Pickett, medical director, sexual assault service and Lianne’s nominator, proudly shares: “Lianne has shaped our program and has played an instrumental role in developing our education program that is delivered throughout BC. She coordinates the Provincial Sexual Assault Examiner training where nurses and doctors are trained in the provision of care for survivors of sexualized violence. Lianne has been generous with her time and wholly dedicated to supporting patients, families and programs.”
When Lianne first found out that Tracy nominated her for this award, she said that she was “shocked, profoundly honoured and full of gratitude.”
Lianne started her career as a nurse in 1986 at UBC Hospital – she recalls this was a great foundation to begin a career in nursing.
“From there, I went to South East Asia for three-and-a-half years and wound up working at the Myanmar (formerly Burma) –Thailand border – I worked with the All Burma Students' Democratic Front as a nurse in refugee camps.”
When Lianne returned to Vancouver, she worked as an outreach nurse in the DTES and public health nurse with new immigrants and refugees. Then, in 1994, there was a posting for an on-call sexual assault nurse at BC Women’s Hospital. “This was the first time this type of role was available,” Lianne said.
“I’ve always been interested in working with people who are disenfranchised or marginalized and want to help people be involved in change and advocacy. I’m drawn to emotionally supportive care, and sexual assault services is so focused on patient-centred and trauma-informed care that it fit perfectly with my values.”
Lianne has held leadership roles as the Provincial Nurse Coordinator and most recently as the Vancouver Nurse Coordinator where she is responsible for the clinical and nursing components of the Vancouver sexual assault service program.
She has worked as a consultant with the Canadian International Development Agency in South Africa where she provided expertise to the Ministry of Health wanting to establish a specialized sexual assault service modelled on the Vancouver program.
Lianne has been involved in developing numerous polices in the field; most notably, the creation of the BC provincial forensic evidence storage policy and a provincial protocol giving survivors access to their non-forensic drug and alcohol screening results. Lianne contributed to a research study “Clients’ experiences with a specialized sexual assault service” published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing.
Lianne also works as an independent consultant most recently writing operational guidelines for the newly established Sexual Assault Response Team in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Lianne sledding in Whitehorse, Yukon
“I believe in helping people at difficult times in their life and I believe in making change for sexual violence injustice,” said Lianne.
Cheryl Davies, Chief Operating Officer, BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, has known Lianne for decades through their work together. Cheryl notes that, “Lianne has always thought it is important to make connections to the diverse sectors of our society. Lianne’s connections from working with constabulary to serving on TransLink committees and RCMP divisions for sexual assault cases has been extensive and important.”
On her most recent achievement, receiving this Award of Distinction, Lianne, humbly says, “I feel like I have just been doing my work - what I love to do and am drawn to. It means a lot to be recognized by Tracy. Sexual assault services at BC Women’s is very much a team environment - from the office to the bedside, everybody makes a huge difference.”
“Lianne, has been an amazing role model, inspiring to many,” says Cheryl. “A clear and steadfast advocate in this area for decades. The work Lianne has done with our community, hospital and health authorities, will continue to support a legacy of infrastructure and services that will continue on with the good work that she started.”
Tracy adds, “Lianne Ritch has whole heartedly been the foundation for the longest running sexual assault program in Canada and has richly supported and impacted care for all British Columbian’s.”
“Each year the ministry recognizes individuals, groups and programs that have made outstanding contributions to crime prevention and community safety with the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards. Nominations for the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards are reviewed by representatives from the provincial Safe Communities Working Group (SCWG). The SCWG brings provincial partners together with the common goal of keeping the Province’s communities safe.” Link to source.
The Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards 2020 Virtual Ceremony was held on January 21, 2021 and you can watch the recording on YouTube. Lianne receives her award at: 7:38.